They say that people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. Friendship as an adult expat is a weird thing. You find yourself in a strange land having abandoned a lifetime of connections to dive deep in a culture that is strange yet wonderfully familiar all at the same time and having a good friend can simply make all of the difference in the world.
Miss Runaway Kiwi and I met at some blog event years ago and became fast friends with a speed that only expats armed with a healthy serving of gin can facilitate. Since then we’ve navigated North African spa hotels (by golf buggy mostly), gained entry to Hogwarts, sampled a plethora of brunch, sashayed down Downton Abbey staircases, swooned over cat gifs, laughed over ridiculousnesses (it’s a legit word I swear) and try to catch up whenever she’s actually in London and not swanning off somewhere else in the world.
We both come from the same city in New Zealand and seem to have settled in the bright lights of London – mostly with aplomb but certainly with a serious amount of head-scratching as we navigate our way through the cobbled pathways both metaphorical and literal.
She has a wit that astounds me, an imagination only matched by Douglas Adams, a similar delight in Doctor Who and an accounting knowledge that is breathtaking. So, finding ourselves with a Friday evening not dominated with work for once, we initially arranged a relaxed catch-up on her couch with wine, which somehow morphed into a luxuriously appointed 5-star dinner overlooking those tempting city beacons.
It was a Friday at the end of long weeks for both of us, and I guess we just fancied spoiling ourselves (helped by a 50% off deal we found on hot-dinners.com and the teasing post Mr & Mrs Silverspoon modelled recently) so with celebratory glasses of bubbles in mind off we went towards North Greenwich.
I wasn’t intending the night to become a post (many meals we have don’t for a variety of reasons) but as soon as the menu was placed on our table by our lovely waiter, I knew it was going to be irresistible. Having convinced us to pop upstairs for the 18th floor after dinner for a nightcap (there was very little arm-twisting if I’m honest) we both ordered a glass of Friday magic and settled in to solve a few world problems.
Whilst we perused the a la carte menu, we enjoyed our hors d’oeuvre of air-popped crackers made from quinoa and black rice accompanied by both a red lentil puree and mascarpone/yoghurt cream. By this point as twilight began to fall over our beautiful city skyline view, I’d already realised the rookie error of not taking my proper camera, but ploughed on nonetheless.
Presented with a selection of bread (always an understated highlight of a nice meal) and our soupcons of flavoured butter – one with caramelised onion and one with hickory powder I believe – our waiter explained how the restaurant has been newly launched (in August this year) and how chef Tomas Lidakevicus has taken inspiration from the spice trading sh that used to sail in and out of London’s murky river. Taking our time to choose (read: being way too busy talking) Madam Runaway Kiwi chose an appetiser of Sweetcorn textures served with a doughnut and pied bleu mushroom. I wrestled with my conscience and ultimately (in the name of indulgence) fell for a memory of Bordeaux with the Foie Gras Ballotine accompanied by figs, gingerbread and caramelised mascarpone. It was simply delicious.
We both couldn’t resist the Irish Ribeye for our main, which came in the stunning blue hour of dusk (clearly arranged just for our window-centric table), meltingly delicious ox cheek, pickled onion, black garlic and salsify – ordering a side of al dente broccoli for the good of our food pyramids.
Dessert was a sophisticated take on Sticky Toffee pudding and should have taken better notes which provided a delectable, light end to our feast.
Finishing our feast with contented sighs and spurning coffee for a cocktail upstairs, our lovely waiter presented us with a plate of petit fours that we couldn’t resist. Mini-doughnuts, chocolate potatoes (truffles) and lychee marshmallows that were metaphorical cherries on top of our Friday treat.
The hotel is typically grand with lovely a nautical theme that jauntily runs through – brass fittings, seafaring lounges on the ground floor which had our wander-lusting hearts aflutter and beautiful, plush carpet with a dreamy pile that wouldn’t look out of place in captain’s quarters.
Having finished our meal – the service was unobtrusive but never left us wanting – we traipsed up to the 18th floor to the SkyBar revealing the astonishing lit up city skyline and a window-side table that our waiter had sweetly reserved for us.
Spending another while sipping our cocktails and spying upon the offices opposite us with a handily available telescope that wouldn’t look out of place in the steampunk universe, we discovered one of the best views of the Millenium dome roof from the other side of the hotel – in the Ladies bathroom of all place – that had us Snapchat swooning.
All in all, a delectable evening of opulence and surprise. It is certainly a destination restaurant and one to bear in mind when trying to escape the excited masses who gather in the 02 for concerts.