What better way to start the New Year than being unlike the rest of London. I still haven’t watched the New Year fireworks yet, but I will get round to it someday. My commitments are abit like my blog, 3 months of hiatus then BANG you see a post. Magical.
Anyway what better way to spend New Years Day than to check in at The Athenaeum Hotel and eating a long awaited delicious meal! The Athenaeum was booked via Lastminute.com top secret hotels, which isn’t very secretive. A quick googling and viola you get an answer. If you want to know what the description for The Athenaeum is then it’s below:
“This hotel has a central location. Situated in the West End, great for a weekend break. First class facilities and service. Five star guest room facilities.”
Luckily we got upgraded, which reminded me of my Seville trip back in September, to a Park View Room! Considering how expensive London lands are these days, having a view over Green Park, well I pretty much felt like a trillion dollars. Not a million, because that’s just meagre sum these days, but a trillion.
Everything is 5* quality, minus the shower which had shower curtains and the most temperamental water I’ve ever come across. Nice to have seconds of cold water when in a hot country, but in UK nah uh. Wrong. Minibar was complimentary apart from the alcohol beverages and service is excellent. Recommended.
New Years Day, New Years Day is just so hard to find a good restaurant that is open! My 2nd attempt to visit Goodman but it was closed. In these hard first world problem times, what did a girl do? I just had to make do with St. Johns! Tough life. In fact it was a brilliant excuse to get partner in crime to go because he had been refusing this suggestion few times before. Oh New Years Day, you are the best.
As we walk along the calm streets of Green Park towards Leicester Square for our 7:30pm appointment with St Johns, we noticed how busy Chinatown restaurants were! Little Korea had a massive queue for dinner and so did the others, bet the Chinese were happy that night ;P.
Seated we pondered over the menu and settled upon these dishes:
Starters: Squid, White Beans and Artichoke
Mains: Aylesbury Duck Leg and Braised Red Cabbage/Braised Ox Cheek, Celeriac and pickled Walnut.
Dessert: Their famous Madeleines, half a dozen.
I sat there in silence sharing our starter and I wondered why it reminded me of the octopus salad in Sicily we always had. Partner in crime looks just as confused as I am. Then he leans across the table and says:
“This looks like an octopus leg”
I look at him with wide eyes and an ‘o’ expression.
“Is it? Did we order octopus or squid?”
Partner in crime looks certain.
I carry on eating, see a squid body, 2 seconds pass.
“Well, looks like we’ve got the best of both worlds. Squid and Octopus!”
It’s delicious, but I have confirmed that I am not a fan of artichokes.
The mains swiftly follow after a 10 minute interval and I’m diving into my duck leg without waiting. I love duck. Especially the ones cooked in its own fat and has a crispy skin with delicate, soft meat on the inside. The braised red cabbage is much needed and complements the rich and fat duck. Excellent dish and the best duck leg I’ve had so far.
Partner in crimes’ braised ox cheek is beyond our expectations and turns out to be quite big. It sits upon a smooth, velvety celeriac mash with some pickled walnuts on the side. The ox cheek has a small layer of fat and the meat gently breaks away from a cut of the knife. Scoop it up with some mash; it was excellent English comfort food.
By this time we are both quite full but I press on and urge partner in crime to order half a dozen of madeleines. It’s fine I say to no-one in particular because half a dozen is only 4. We can easily finish that. To my amazement, and his amusement, 6 freshly baked delicate madeleines are placed on our table. It’s obvious maths is not my strongest point. He looks across and smiles.
“Your so ditsy-ly cute.” (Proceed to gag at our couple-ness)
We ate the soft, pillowy texture madeleines and then I burst out laughing in tears because partner in crime makes a joke. He and I can’t stop, well more me just holding my stomach trying really hard not to laugh. I keep pointing at the madeleines and only say that word in English, everything else in Cantonese. The table next to us thinks we are bonkers and mad. Laughing about madeleines, who are these aliens?
I tell you, it was a funny joke, you had to be there. I am certainly not mad.
St. Johns has been on my list every since 2009. Visiting it for the first dinner in 2012 lets me know that this year is going to be bloody great, if not awesome! I part with 30 pounds for the dinner. Just for food, no drinks. Feeling ecstatically happy about 2012, I left for a nights rest back at The Athenaeum.
Do reserve before you go and the daily menu can be seen online. It’s so worth it. Understated delicious-ness. Can you just go?
St John Hotel
1 Leicester St