EAT - DRINK - BE MERRY
The Gilbert Scott
5th Jan 2013
Love’s Labour’s Lost is the most unusual play, it’s about deferred gratification, a bunch of young, wealthy bachelors decide to dedicate three years to study, fasting and rejecting the pleasures of the flesh. Inevitably a Princess and a gaggle of dreamy ladies turn the boys’ heads and in a flurry of misinterpreted and misdirected love letters they all fall in love with each other and are about to walk off into the sunset. But right at the end a messenger arrives to say the Princess’s father has died, so they decide to halt proceedings for a year, and that’s it, that’s the ending of the play. It leaves you feeling quite empty having sat through two and a half hours of story and character to find there is no ending, very unsatisfactory.
Arriving at a classy venue like the Gilbert Scott really lifts the spirits, the team behind the well stocked bar are a dreamy bunch, lots of glamorous sounding accents and tight white shirts, you’ll find no fatties here. They are a keen knowledgeable and skilful team, but what comes over most is the evident enjoyment that have in working together in this place. It’s infectious. A happy team makes a good environment to have a drink, and my dirty martini is a thing of joy.
Moving into the restaurant you begin to feel that you’re in some kind of film set, the room is grand, high ceilings, big windows, a pianist. This is cool. The staff, once again are attentive, and much more patient than I would be with a rather stupid American woman on the next table. She’d ordered tiger prawns, which came with their heads on, ‘Excuse me, I can’t eat these, could you kill them for me?’ - Kill them? ‘ And I can’t peel them either.’ They were removed, beheaded, de-shelled and returned within seconds.
So we each had a glass of English fizz, good to see our stuff is the cheapest on the menu, Gusbourne, from Kent, very good smelling of nettles and strawberry, very acceptable at £11 a glass. She had Crispy Pig’s Head with laverbread mayonnaise and pickled cockles, really well balanced pig and seafood. I had duck terrine, quite dense but lifted by the addition of apple and raisins.
She then went for ‘pigeon in a pudding’ expecting some kind of suet pud affair, but instead was presented with a Yorkshire pudding which was then filled with well cooked pink pigeon and an intense, rich gravy, which really made it. I had a little lemon sole with a fab anchovy topping. For extras we had some chips and buttered sprout tops.
Lastly I had ‘Mrs Beeton’s Snow Egg’ a lovely variation on a floating island, a dense ball of fluffy soft meringue paddling in a crème Anglaise and at its heart a wonderfully bitter orange marmalade. She went for Yorkshire parkin, dense dark liquorice, fresh pear and salted caramel ice cream. Top stuff.
So there we have it, we’ve waited all day and have chosen well and munched through a meal we absolutely fell in love with. This is not Michelin star territory, it’s not trying to be, it is well thought through, expertly delivered classic British cooking. Great ingredients, well balanced dishes, good sized portions, there are no complaints here. But hold on, let’s have a look at this bill. Starters £8.50 a pop, ok, mains, £18 and £19, alright, puds £7 each, acceptable, service 12.5%, not un-reasonable. So what’s this at the foot of the bill? ‘2 Cover Charge £4’. No sorry, you’re just spoiling it now, we’ve all had a lovely time and we’ve all had a drink so let’s not make it nasty. What the Gilbert Scott have done there is just killed the Princess’s father. A perfect meal, not cheap, but very well done nonetheless and then they go and ruin it for four quid. Dear Gilbert Scott, we do not do cover charges any more, it’s not the 1970s. Stop it please, you have left a very nasty taste in my mouth.
Total including 2 glasses of fizz, a bottle of Touraine, service and cover charge £153