17 April 2009

One Night in Hertfordshire

Update (2015): St Alban has, sadly, long since closed.

Well, not quite--Lower Regent's Street more like--but that was where we told Maman we were going for dinner and as the restaurant was called St Alban, it was almost true. St Alban is the younger sister of the Wolseley--a little younger, a little cheaper, a little funkier and a little easier to get a reservation for the same evening when it's already 4.30 and your name is Bexquisite. After 40+ days of effective pudding fast, thanks to my chocolate ban, it was nice to be able to have a range of chocolatey options on the menu from which to select. I had to forgo a starter to make sure I had room but we had some nice bread and the parents ate some nice-looking olives (but I don't do olives). A glass of prosecco helped me to wind down after a hectic Friday early evening involving calls to people in Hawai'i; I realisee too late Hawai'i was ten not eight hours behind the UK and that I had therefore rudely awakened the poor recipient of my call.

Comme entrée, I had a delicious, melt-in-the-mouth chargrilled salmon with some sort of posh mushy peas (with garlic) as a garnish. Papa's pizza and Maman's belly of black pig (black belly of pig? Pig of black belly?) also looked pretty tasty and the waitress was extremely friendly, if a little too quick to say "you're extremely welcome" at every opportunity. I decided to go for one of the recommended puddings--chocolate and hazelnut caprese with crème fraîche sorbet. I was initially worried that the chocolate and hazelnut would come garnished withe mozzarella or basil, as you would expect with a caprese salad, but the waitress assured me it was like a really chocolatey brownie. And it was very nice, although I couldn't quite finish. With coffee, they brought macaroons, which looked very pretty, all green with their coloured wrappers but weren't as tasty as Paul's.

For years when I was growing up, we went out for a family dinner in Oxford most Friday nights, usually to Pizza Express (the Oxford branch in a 12th century building is one of the non-plasticky branches and is so quite nice) or Browns. We would then go to either Haagen Dazs or Borders for ice cream and book shopping respectively. Tonight was a little rainy so we got a cab to the Borders at Oxford Circus. I bought another Tudors book (Antonia Fraser's biography of the wives of Henry VIII), Papa bought about 10 books, including one on the Tudors and one on the War of the Roses. By the time we'd finished, the rain had stopped so I guided the parents back to the Mews, through the eastern part of Marylebone (EaMa?), which was quite a pleasant walk (it avoided the cacophany and chaos of Oxford Street, at any rate).

So, it was a nice Friday evening. Tomorrow, we're going to the Tate Britain to do some culcha at the van Dyck exhibition. It's quite nice reintroducing the parents to the delights of London and getting them keen about all of the little places I know and the routes I go...

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