The joy of eating out again. The pain of trying to get a table

‘Would you like to go on the waiting list?’ may now be the most terrible words in the English languageWhen Boris Johnson first announced the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, hope burned gently inside me like a warming plate beneath a murgh makhani. In just a few weeks, I would be able to eat food cooked by someone other than myself, a feast to which I wouldn’t have to give a second thought – no shopping, no washing up – until the arrival of my credit card bill. What a relief. But where first? Mind racing, I pictured gorgeous, higgledy-piggledy Noble Rot in Soho. In that moment, I decided I would get there long before my companions, order two portions of those superlative little choux pastry buns filled with duck liver parfait and glazed with sauternes, and eat every last one myself, accompanied only by a large, cold glass of something the colour of an old wedding ring.For as long as it lasted, this was an extremely pleasing daydream. Like all the best fantasies, it was straightforward, unashamed and built for easy repetition. But then – pfff! – reality hit. You can more easily pass an aubergine through a pretzel than you can book a table in some restaurants right now - or perhaps in any restaurants at all. Certainly, if you want somewhere with outside space (no eating inside until next month), you can forget it. Continue reading...

‘Would you like to go on the waiting list?’ may now be the most terrible words in the English language

When Boris Johnson first announced the government’s roadmap out of lockdown, hope burned gently inside me like a warming plate beneath a murgh makhani. In just a few weeks, I would be able to eat food cooked by someone other than myself, a feast to which I wouldn’t have to give a second thought – no shopping, no washing up – until the arrival of my credit card bill. What a relief. But where first? Mind racing, I pictured gorgeous, higgledy-piggledy Noble Rot in Soho. In that moment, I decided I would get there long before my companions, order two portions of those superlative little choux pastry buns filled with duck liver parfait and glazed with sauternes, and eat every last one myself, accompanied only by a large, cold glass of something the colour of an old wedding ring.

For as long as it lasted, this was an extremely pleasing daydream. Like all the best fantasies, it was straightforward, unashamed and built for easy repetition. But then – pfff! – reality hit. You can more easily pass an aubergine through a pretzel than you can book a table in some restaurants right now - or perhaps in any restaurants at all. Certainly, if you want somewhere with outside space (no eating inside until next month), you can forget it.

Continue reading...

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