Last weekend was the weekend I’d been waiting for.
My dad’s birthday celebrations in London, ending with a meal at Marco Pierre White’s restaurant Wheeler’s of St. James’s.
I am an avid fan of Marco. I find something eerily attractive about him, despite finding him somewhat scary at the same time (I think women are attracted to danger…) so for me, I was dead excited!
We started the day in style with a limousine ride to the capital with plenty of champagne on hand for the journey.
We were dropped off at Covent Garden where we went for lunch at a lovely little restaurant called The Palm Court Brasserie where I enjoyed a cauldron of Moules Mariniere (garlic, onions, white wine, cream… so simple but so delicious) some really impressive french fries and warm, freshly baked bread. Mussels are easy to get wrong with broken shells or overcooking, but the Palm Court got it just right… they were hot, delicious and cooked to perfection. Well recommended if you’re out and about in Covent Garden.
From there we went to see Agatha Christie’s “The Mousetrap” at St Martin’s Theatre, which was absolutely brilliant (I’m not telling who dunnit though!!).
Back to food… I knew that St Martin’s was near the infamous The Ivy in London, didn’t realise it was just across the road! Now being a member of a family of foodies, we just had to have a go at getting in for a drink! Sadly we were turned away but the doorman did give us a business card recommending we book in advance. Chance would be a fine thing!
After our unsuccessful attempt to get into The Ivy, my aunt (very glamorous and fashionable as she is) suggested we head towards Ronnie Scott’s. It had just opened as we arrived, so was very quiet, but the music was great, the wine was flowing, and pretty soon it was time for the piece de resistance: Wheeler’s of St. James’s.
Having experienced my first ride with a London cabbie that didn’t know where he was going, we arrived on St. James’s Street, surrounded by gorgeous period buildings and of course, the restaurant.
On entering we were escorted to our table…
… surrounded by some rather impressive artwork…
There were other touches equally as naughty like the leather covered bannisters and risque pictures in the bathrooms, but I loved the decor… knives, coffee and sexy ladies… obviously a man of good taste!
After receiving the menu, a fine selection of traditional British cuisine, specialising in fish and steak, to say I was salivating is an understatement, so without delay we ordered. Sadly not everything on the menu was available, which was slightly annoying as the restaurant wasn’t full, but one shan’t complain.
Sophia: Pate of Foie Gras and fresh bread
Mum: Mountain of Deep Fried Calamari (I always love generous portions…)
Sonya: Quail’s Eggs & Hollandaise Sauce
Punil: Raw Oysters (with plenty of Tabasco sauce)
Dad & Denise: Fresh Cornish Crab Salad
The starters were faultless. Generous portions, delicious food, my crab bisque was exceptionally flavoured with big chunks of crab meat, a far cry from the watery offerings of lesser chefs. A fantastic start.
Me: Lobster with butter and herbs, served with 3 times cooked chunky chips and buttered spinach… yummy!!
Mum, Dad, Sophia & Punil: 16oz T-Bone Steak (entrecote for Punil) served with 3 times cooked chunky chips, onion rings and bearnaise sauce.
Sonya: Cod (I’ll admit I’d had a few too many glasses of wine to remember everything about every dish!)
Larry: Calves Liver with braised red cabbage and mash
Denise: Roast Belly Pork with Butter Beans and Proper Crackling
The main courses looked absolutely amazing, as you can see (despite some of the photos being a little blurry…). My lobster was phenomenal, really tender and succulent with a rich, buttery sauce. The steaks appeared to be a little less than amazing though. The rare steaks were cooked a bit too much, the mediums not cooked enough and less than impressive steak knives left the carnivores a little disappointed. The triple cooked chips however were so good, that Punil actually asked for a doggy bag!
The portions really were something though, as I don’t think anybody finished their whole plate!
By the time desserts came round, most of the family opted for coffee or liquers. Though Sonya ordered the Cherry Trifle ‘Wally Ladd’ she took only a couple of spoons and declared defeat, Me, Sophia & my dad however had other ideas!
We all ordered the raspberry souffle, but again (disappointingly) they didn’t have enough left, so me being the good daughter (it was his birthday…) opted for the Eton Mess instead.
The raspberry souffle looked amazing… risen sky high, delicately pink and oozing with a lovely raspberry sauce (with extra to pour on).
My Eton Mess was just as gorgeous, with whole strawberries and strawberry coulis and a large helping of vanilla ice cream hidden under the mountain of freshly whipped cream and smashed meringues. It was lovely…
However even I couldn’t get to the bottom of this peak!
The meal as a whole I thought was lovely. Great atmosphere, loved the restaurant, and everything I had was delicious, though I must admit, I was really disappointed that they didn’t have everything offered on the menu, and I was even more disappointed that my dad didn’t enjoy his steak as much as he was hoping, but on the whole, I still think it was a fantastic night… although the less said about the bill, the better…
All in all, I had a fantastic weekend.
My return to Birmingham was a more sombre affair, but I won’t comment as I won’t ruin my celebratory tone. I just recommend everyone enjoy a nice cup of tea and get back to normality!