diamond geezer

 Friday, January 25, 2013

It's that time of year when restaurants aren't doing so well, so the Evening Standard invites Londoners to visit 24 of them on the cheap.

One of these restaurants lies by the Thames near Tower Bridge. It's one of the cheaper dining establishments on the list, special-offer-wise, but the welcome at the door is very warm. This may be because the staff are always so gracious, or it may be because the ES crowd are filling most of the tables.

A choice of locations is offered, either out of the way by the far wall or out of the way in the far corner. The latter location is described as "on the sofa", which edges it. The table turns out to be just wide enough to make talking across it slightly awkward, but that's not noticeable until you sit down, and by then it's too late.

The waiter is effusive. Indeed he's possibly the most effusive waiter I've ever met, smiling and grinning and thanking me at every available opportunity. He thanks me for sitting down. He thanks me for holding the menu. He thanks me for not ordering drinks yet. He thanks me for thanking him, but I refrain from thanking him back in case the charade continues.

The Evening Standard set menu offers a fine selection of food, with one additional choice per course compared to most of the other two dozen restaurants on the list. Nevertheless the waiter sees fit to hand over the usual à la carte menu, printed on nice card rather than paper, in case diners can be tempted over to the dark side at this late stage.

His heavy European accent proves difficult to understand further, or perhaps my heavy English accent proves difficult to understand back. He has to repeat something about water, and I have to repeat something about not being sure what he said, and then he wanders off with the wine list before he twigs I might actually want some.

The first course arrives swiftly, which is the joy of ordering off a limited but popular set menu. My pate looks suspiciously like a turd on toast, all swirly and brown and rising to a sharp point, but thankfully tastes delicious. Elsewhere the lentil soup is full-bodied and flavoursome, so I'm told, although the lack of bread roll is a cost-saving too far.

The second course takes rather longer to arrive, during which time the adjacent couple order desserts and coffees, drink up and depart. The delay causes the head waiter to come over, eventually, and apologise. Again comprehension is not easy to come by, but either my mince will be here soon or my meal will be, so I assume the latter.

My pasta is delivered by the restaurant's least enthusiastic waiter, who lingers only to grate a grudging layer of cheese across the top. He repeats this duty for a bland-looking risotto, although it's top notch tasty, apparently, thankfully. Waiter number one then waits until I have a mouth full of tomato sauce before mumbling a query about whether or not I'm enjoying it. I mumble back, and he thanks me profusely for whatever it is I might have said.

The dessert course requires further exuberant negotiation. The slice of tiramisu that follows is so large that the lady at the neighbouring table feels moved to lean over and point out that her portion was noticeably smaller. My panna cotta goes unremarked, but slips down nicely, and I am at least able to clear my plate.

The bill arrives with additional flourish, and a grinning "grazie", presumably in the hope of earning an augmented pay off. But the bottom line already includes 12.5% extra, so I pile up the precise amount in notes and coppers and that'll have to do. Further gratitude is offered on the walk to the door, and on the way through it, and all feels genuine. A most pleasant evening, courtesy of the ES's annual wintertime special offer, thanks.

<< click for Newer posts

click for Older Posts >>

click to return to the main page

...or read more in my monthly archives
Jan19  Feb19  Mar19  Apr19  May19  Jun19
Jan18  Feb18  Mar18  Apr18  May18  Jun18  Jul18  Aug18  Sep18  Oct18  Nov18  Dec18
Jan17  Feb17  Mar17  Apr17  May17  Jun17  Jul17  Aug17  Sep17  Oct17  Nov17  Dec17
Jan16  Feb16  Mar16  Apr16  May16  Jun16  Jul16  Aug16  Sep16  Oct16  Nov16  Dec16
Jan15  Feb15  Mar15  Apr15  May15  Jun15  Jul15  Aug15  Sep15  Oct15  Nov15  Dec15
Jan14  Feb14  Mar14  Apr14  May14  Jun14  Jul14  Aug14  Sep14  Oct14  Nov14  Dec14
Jan13  Feb13  Mar13  Apr13  May13  Jun13  Jul13  Aug13  Sep13  Oct13  Nov13  Dec13
Jan12  Feb12  Mar12  Apr12  May12  Jun12  Jul12  Aug12  Sep12  Oct12  Nov12  Dec12
Jan11  Feb11  Mar11  Apr11  May11  Jun11  Jul11  Aug11  Sep11  Oct11  Nov11  Dec11
Jan10  Feb10  Mar10  Apr10  May10  Jun10  Jul10  Aug10  Sep10  Oct10  Nov10  Dec10 
Jan09  Feb09  Mar09  Apr09  May09  Jun09  Jul09  Aug09  Sep09  Oct09  Nov09  Dec09
Jan08  Feb08  Mar08  Apr08  May08  Jun08  Jul08  Aug08  Sep08  Oct08  Nov08  Dec08
Jan07  Feb07  Mar07  Apr07  May07  Jun07  Jul07  Aug07  Sep07  Oct07  Nov07  Dec07
Jan06  Feb06  Mar06  Apr06  May06  Jun06  Jul06  Aug06  Sep06  Oct06  Nov06  Dec06
Jan05  Feb05  Mar05  Apr05  May05  Jun05  Jul05  Aug05  Sep05  Oct05  Nov05  Dec05
Jan04  Feb04  Mar04  Apr04  May04  Jun04  Jul04  Aug04  Sep04  Oct04  Nov04  Dec04
Jan03  Feb03  Mar03  Apr03  May03  Jun03  Jul03  Aug03  Sep03  Oct03  Nov03  Dec03
 Jan02  Feb02  Mar02  Apr02  May02  Jun02  Jul02 Aug02  Sep02  Oct02  Nov02  Dec02 

eXTReMe Tracker
jack of diamonds
Life viewed from London E3

» email me
» follow me on twitter
» follow the blog on Twitter
» follow the blog on RSS

my flickr photostream