Day Dining:The Dorchester
Park Lane, W1K 1QA, (020) 7629 8888
Afternoon tea with champagne £46.50
The setting of The Promenade was fantasmically fancy with burnt vermillion walks, towering jasmine scented blooms and brocade velvet setees to sink into, but friendly service vanquished any stuffiness that may have been associated with such surroundings.
Being in celebratory mode my tea was accompanied with a glass of fizz. For the all important brew mum was swayed from her usual decaff black to the Paris blend which was as romantic as its name with sweet nectar and caramel notes. Whilst my mouth revelled in the rapturous bonfire of my Lapsang Suchong. The finger sandwiches were refreshingly a mix of classic and experimental - cucumber on carraway and chicken on basil. To follow a little sweet taster of blood orange jelly with cardamom cream top whetted our tastebuds for the sweet joys to come.
The scones were small yet perfectly formed, jams were as they should be; fortified fruit jus and clotted cream was clotted and creamy. But the absolute show stealer was the picture perfect platter of tarts and cakes. Delights from a lemon iced choux sphere with a caramelised hazelnut hat, dark chocolate and pear centred chocolate shortbread and a crushed praline wafer base cheesecake laced with lemongrass and lime micro shavings.
Pre Dinner Drinks:Bob Bob Ricard
Upper James Street, W1, (020) 3145 1000
I adore this place for its outlandish interiors, its like the Orient Express' little camp brother train. Ideal for a cocktail or few and a little nibble of Bobcorn, popcorn popped in coconut oil! There was some focus on Britishness with Pimms and cucumber featuring on quite a number of concoctions swizzled around with fresh berry juices, all went down very easily.
The Main Event: River Cafe
Thames Wharf, Rainville Road, London W6 9HA, (020) 7386 4200
Could you define a great restaurant as a joint where you get ten times the flavour for your buck or a restaurant that is bejazzled with Michelen stars? Or is it a dining establishment that reasonates a passion for food and provenance? If it were the latter, River Cafe is definitive of this - as well as being rightly so decorated with accolades. Its no secret this place is legendary. From the founders to the quality of talent it continues to nurture, and lets not forget the food!
Our meal was faultless and delivered by staff who loved that you love the food. I was waiting to pick out some slight fault, but from the first dunk into the fruity glistening extra virgin olive oil, I knew that would be futile. Starters were absurdly good; anchovy dressed spinach, artichoke and raddichio salad, Cornish crab with sorrel and smoked roe shavings and an intense clam vongole. The mains only outdid the starters; whole Dover Sole baked with rosemary and pulses, deep fried atrichoke provided crunch to sweet chargrilled scallops with mint and chilli and slow cooked veal shin with saffron risotto and carmelised carrots.
There was just enough room for a couple of deserts for sharing; the infamous Chocolate Nemesis which is best described as a slab of the best (gooey) part of a chocalte brownie and smoked caramel ice cream. Topped off with a couple of dense espressos, perfecto!