Monday, 19 November 2012

Birthday Binges

It's a family tradition to go for lunch or dinner on your birthday. We've been doing it for far too long, and now me and the bro are older, we seem to have far more expensive tastes in food. I blame my parents for introducing us to all kinds of food at a young age. But it's so rare we see each other now (even though I live 5 minutes away!) that we continue this tradition with a die-hard commitment.

I was a little late to the Brasserie Zedel party so for my 21-again birthday this year this place was my choice. It's a innocuous place, just off Piccadilly Circus, where TGIs and Angus Steak House make their money so not the first choice for the owners of The Ivy and The Wolseley to set up shop.

The entrance area is not exciting, but I thought it had an authentic Frenchy feel. We went downstairs and I loved the decor. Similar to the Wolseley, but more ostentatious, very art deco.

The waiters were suitably rude - I actually felt bad for being indecisive over my choice, and according to my lovely family, our server actually rolled his eyes at me. If you convince yourself this is the authentic French way, it makes you feel better. 

Unfortunately this is where my poor photography efforts fail. I had some amazingly garlicky snails and a large seabass. I won't rave over this place as I didn't think the food was rave-worthy, but I did really enjoy it for more than the food. The atmosphere is great, the menu is really reasonably priced and the people watching is fantastic. You really should share both the chocolate mousse and creme brulee for dessert, both are enormous and wonderful. I will go back soon.

Next up was the bro's birthday and if that was my 21-again birthday, his would be 18-again birthday. Although I know he wouldn't have chosen 'nose-to-tail' eating at 18. St John has been around for a while and serves up all the parts of animals that you wouldn't necessarily want to eat - until they slap a Michelin star onto it. So this was the destination of choice for Sunday and it did not disappoint. It's a very simple place, it used to be a smokehouse and the owners haven't messed with it much apart from installing a bar and a bakery (which provides such an amazing smell). 

After downing a glass of St John's lovely white wine, we sat down and struggled over our orders. I had to go for bone marrow - I've never had it and I was being adventurous. It's very fatty but I convinced myself it must be good for me in some weird way. Unfortunately it doesn't look the most appetising dish but it was very tasty, the salad was the perfect match - reminds me to make parsley, capers and onions more. (And yes I took the bones home for lunatic dog)

After some seriously tasty starters, I was so excited for my main course. A bit controversial, I'd ordered kid goat. I'm as far from a vegetarian you'll ever get and I don't feel guilty - all thoughts of bouncy goats were pushed from my mind. I wasn't disappointed, I absolutely loved it. The aioli it came with was perfect too.

Every single mouthful was so tasty, better than lamb and not chewy as I had feared after a bad goat curry at Carnival. The presentation is not the selling point here, the plates are plain, as is the whole dining room. Don't go expecting flouncy towers of precariously balanced food. I love it.

Special mention has to go to my dad, the tripe-loving fiend he is for ordering this. I don't know how he eats this, let alone loves it.
what absolute tripe
For dessert, we were all so full but had loved the food so much we couldn't deny the salted caramel tart.

look, it's oozing caramel
This was without doubt the best dessert I've ever had. It was so rich I could never have one alone (well, maybe) but honestly I could not believe how good it was. The bro ordered 12 Madeleines to take home - the smell of these is something I will never be able to describe but if you go, you have to bring some home.

I loved St John, it was the best meal out I've had in some time (excluding Roscioli from the previous post). It probably helped that I hadn't seen my beloved family in a while and we were all so happy to be in each other's company for once, but the food and the service were fantastic. Best of all, you can buy the wine I loved to take home so I will enjoy that over Christmas. If it lasts that long at the Barchester.

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