Saturday, 11 June 2011

A Grand Day Out

Way back at the beginning of 2011 Liz and I promised ourselves a visit to Tate Britain and it's much lauded Watercolours Exhibition, so yesterday we had a day out. The Metropolitan Line was running for the first weekend in weeks (apparently Take That were playing Wembley so that may have been the reason) and it was also The Queen's official birthday and therefore Trooping the Colour was taking place.

The exhibition was gentle, interesting and educational. We couldn't have asked for more. The highlight for me was a particularly stunning picture by Charles Rennie Mackintosh called Fetges. When I win the lottery I shall try and buy it. I was less impressed by the squiggles of many of the later artists and felt I could do as well. So there Tracy Emin!

We tried to take a bus to Trafalgar Square as we were lunching at Les Deux Salons just behind the National Portrait Gallery but because of Trooping the Colour the buses were all on diversion so we ended up walking from the Embankment. I knew the fly-past would be at 1 and so we took our places in the Square and waited. Sure enough an aerial procession of chinooks, the Battle of Britain Memorial Flight and many others, culminating in the magnificent Red Arrows, flew directly over us. It was just wonderful.

And then it was lunchtime and my second visit to Les Deux Salons, having been there with Foodycat earlier this year. It seemed like Liz's kind of place.  I had booked but the brasserie was very quiet although our waitress did say that a party of 10 had cancelled and that they were full for the evening. (I worry about this kind of thing - fantastic eateries disappearing because of the recession etc.).

I began with Cornish crab, green mango, chilli, lime and ginger. It looked extremely pretty but I reckon the chef had been a bit heavy-handed with the ginger. I couldn't taste the mango at all and, given recent publicity, it had beansprouts in it which was a bit scary! (I am still here 24 hours later so I think I survived e-coli).

Liz chose a Broad bean and goat cheese salad and felt that the cheese wasn't quite punchy enough. Some of the beans had been skinned, some hadn't. That met with approval.

I then opted for Sea bass with seashore vegetables, fennel, lemon and crushed potato. The fish was fantastic but seaweed (which is basically what it was) was downright unpleasant. Samphire would have been nice. There is salty and then there is salt-enhanced.

The star of the entire meal however was the Special of the Day. It was Slow-cooked breast of lamb carefully interspersed with slices of potato to make a boulangere. It also came with sweetbreads. Liz pronounced it the best thing she had eaten for ages. She also thought it had been very cleverly, even mathematically assembled. It looked like a meat and potato lasagne. Very, very good.

I had chosen the pudding I was going to have even before I chose my starter, and it was to die for. Iced peanut butter parfait with roast banana. I need the recipe because it was just perfect. Not too sickly, which it easily could have been, and set off nicely with a large wodge of praline.

Liz, who has a whey allergy, was slightly disappointed that all of the desserts on offer yesterday contained cream but, in the interests of research, she chose a Raspberry and rosewater macaroon with me agreeing to eat any cream that might adorn it. Again it was really pretty. And again it was very tasty. Liz went home vowing to find out how to make macaroons.

(And yes. I ate the cream in the middle).

We shared a bottle of Temperanillo. The bill including service came in at just over £100. We both felt it was worth it and Liz is going back in a couple of weeks with some other foodie friends.

All in all a grand day out Grommit.