Having scheduled an evening dinner in the London restaurant where we almost had our first date (and have revisited almost every year since) and church bells with proper celebrations in the local country club Up North a few days later, we just wanted somewhere to relax after the formalities were sealed (some might say I was tying him down with no chance to change his mind, others might have experience of the strange laws the UK has about marrying foreigners).
Falling prey to all kinds of despair, one evening fresh from another round of disappointment we walked past The Landmark Hotel wringing our hands. Assuming that the luxury 5-star hotel wouldn't welcome a party of cheerful Kiwis and Northerners, we had completely dismissed it from the list until we discovered their basement bar.
For years we have been nipping back to the Landmark; for the occasional cup of tea on a wet day, a pint here or there and for the occasional function; and the whole time we've said 'one day we should really stop in here for dinner'.
So recently when the Landmark's set menu rolled into my email inbox one grey afternoon, I simply booked it for early one evening and sent the boy a calendar invite requesting his presence (because that's what happens when you're a London Blogger and been married for so long, trust me). And then when Angie's review of the afternoon tea popped into my inbox, I knew it was simply fate (never mind the fact that it was nowhere near our wedding anniversary. Who needs an excuse, right?)
We began as all good meals do with champagne and crazily moreish bread. Warmed and served with rich butter and a self-serve garnish of rock salt, when our waitress offered to top us up, where we would normally say no, we may have enjoyed nibbling enough to order a whole extra plate of their olive bread which was eyes-closed good.
Despite studying the menu online I had a real problem deciding what to order - everything sounded delicious which caused an attack of indecisiveness - do I go for something unusual or comforting. In the end I went for a lovely starter of warm terrine of slow cooked pork & black pudding (served with apple & pear salsa, celeriac puree, walnuts) and Mr Kiwi chose the glorious Heirloom tomato salad (burrata cheese, black olive tapenade) which was my second choice.
For mains I went safe, a lovely plate of roasted breast of maize-fed chicken (served on a bed of tomato fondue, Puy lentils, roasted cauliflower and broccoli) and let Mr Kiwi order his ultimate heaven - slow-cooked barbecue beef with mashed potatoes and English asparagus. And boy did I regret not ordering the same (blog rules you see) as the beef was utterly, utterly tender.
And then, to add insult to injury, the best photo of the night was taken by my Instagram husband whilst he grizzled at me keeping him from his dinner. Just look, #nofilter I swear (none of my photos ever are). My mouth is watering all over again...
With an eight-floor high roof over the Winter Garden, the light even on a grey evening was fantastic, and makes the hotel restaurant quite lovely and a contrast to the gloriously British red-bricked facade. Inside there are a few edges that could definitely do with a polish but like the evening we spent with our family, we simply didn't want our visit to be over. (Oh, and our neighbouring tables are empty because we like to eat early - as the night wore on it got nicely busier.)
To continue the theme of gourmet comfort (rather than fiddly foams without substance) I ordered the vanilla baked cheesecake served with rhubarb compote and sorbet. Shaking his head at my rhubarb addiction, Mr Kiwi chose the white chocolate & lime cream served with blood orange sorbet. As it turns out it wasn't what we thought, but a delicate sponge. In actual fact it was delicious, and neither of us could agree whose was the best dish.
Of course we then lingered over coffee - a decaf cappuccino for madam and an Americano for sir - before regretfully collecting our coats and pottering off home to feed the cat. Sigh.
Our waitresses for the evening were so sweet - helpful without being invasive, and so understanding of my indecision - but what I adored was how they looked after an elderly couple who sat near to us later in the evening. The staff took such pains to settle them in comfortably that they both grinned from ear to ear for the whole celebratory meal.
I also told the Mr to take notes for when we're growing older disgracefully.