Let’s talk about the restaurant.

It looked quite respectable from the outside — down a little lane way, a bit posh but not too garish, expensive-but-reasonable dishes on the small menu card outside. We were early, so went inside and downstairs for a drinks … to a bar with the worst interior I’d ever seen. I mean, seriously: if you had a small cellar-space to turn into a quiet, sophisticated and cosy room for a few quiet drinks before dinner, would you fill it will a circular monstrosity of a bar? A solid ring of glistening, burnished wood sits in the center of the room, polished, golden-hewed pipes rising up and over us to create shelves of liquor. Icy beer pumps sit at east of the four cardinal points, their promise of freshly pumped brew spoilt by the limited choice of Fosters, Carling or Kronenburg. The bar-tender enters through a small hinged gate, a lock separating her from the crushed masses of thirsty would-be patrons, and is lit from beneath by the fluorescent tinge of small fridges filled with bottled beer. The bar almost fills the room, leaving just enough room for stools at the bar and thin couches around the walls … and as people arrive the available seating space very quickly fills up, blocking the bar from anyone who isn’t already crushed chest-to-wood against the gilded cage.

The smell of rising damp permeates the air. Seriously, whoever was in charge of designing that bar should be drawn and quartered, or worse: forced to work the bar for a night. Suffice it to say we didn’t stay long, heading upstairs to the restaurant proper as soon as was acceptable.rn

The restaurant was busy, but at least the waiting-staff could actually get to all the tables. Ours was non-descript but pleasant: in the middle of the room, clean, white table-cloth a suitable canvas for gleaming silverware and shiny crystal glasses. Our waiter was friendly and harried, which may be exactly what you want — it gives you a feeling of, “yes, I’m quite busy as you can see, but I’ve always got time to stop and talk to you, my most important guests.” Of course, he may have just been resting. Either way.

So we sat, and laughed, and drank good wine, and ate some bread. Our entrees arrived!