It's one of those places where there are terribly polite, slightly disturbingly obsequious people around every turn, wanting to open doors for you, offer you drinks, carry stuff, wipe your nose. Okay maybe I'm taking it too far, but you get the idea. It starts when you drive up the driveway and park next to the extravagant water feature and two dudes in suits rush up, one to open the door and one to offer to take your car away for you to some unseen garage. The only cars allowed to stay in the vicinity are big and black, with tinted windows and huge price tags.
You walk into a triple volume (possibly even quadruple) room with an enormous chandelier thingamy above a bar and little groups of chairs huddling around small tables on which to set your designer drinks. It's all very gracious and stylish. One whole wall is glass with a view of The Mountain (the one I refer to in the phrase The City Beneath the Mountain). It's beautiful. Here, too, many men quietly ambush you with menus, drinks etc. I had a Rose Petal Mojito. It was as beautiful as the decor, filled with blood red rose petals and deep green fresh mint. Very Christmassy colours really.
Then next door to the restaurant where Aubrey, our waiter, placed an enormous file on the table - the wine list, all gazillion pages of it, complete with index. Now, here I need input. The wine could be bought in a number of formats - 50ml, 150ml, 250ml or a bottle. Honestly, who drinks 50ml of wine? Do you think they give it to you in a syringe, like you give babies muti? I went for the 250ml, expecting a carafe. I got an enormous glass, into which they poured it. I kept looking to see if there was a goldfish in it.
The menus were printed on large pieces of paper, embossed with the chef/owner's name. Next to us, a married couple sat, looking not-too-pleased to be there. What a waste to go to such a special place and not enjoy it. That's beside the point though, the funniest thing happened. While Shuzie and Pop discussed the merits of the wine list, and I glazed over (I'm a pleb when it comes to wine), I suddenly smelt burning. The not-so-happy-man's menu had caught alight on the flame of the oh-so-stylish little candle on their table.
The food was sublime, I asked many questions about what was what, it had lots of unpronouceable-but-delicious-sounding things on it, as predicted. The company was even more sublime, and we all ordered different things and classily handed them all around the table so we could taste everything. C's order of pork belly was the ultimate winner - delicate medallions of pork, each with a little jacket of perfectly crisp crackling.
G managed to join us for pudding, leaving the monster boss behind. She chose the 'Lemon and Olive Custard'. I was pleased because I'd been intrigued by it. That's what it was called and beneath its name it said 'Cocoa crumble, chocolate mousse, chocolate tile'. It came in a large creme brulee dish - yellow-looking, half the top covered in dark chocolate (tile?) with a small ball (mousse?) covered in edible (I hope) gold paper. It was horrible. Tasted like... well... olive oil. Turned out the crumble was underneath.
When Aubrey came back we discussed this with him. Unfortunately somebody else took our pudding order and he sympathetically told us that he would have warned us against it had it been him! It did not detract from a fabulous evening, though, the beginning of my Jolly Season and we left, through the door opened by another dude-in-a-suit, satiated with delicious food and good company.
Who could ask for more?
1 day ago