A decade ago, almost to the day of publishing this post, Mr Kiwi and I met on our first official date. Having spent a couple of months in each others company but with the expanse of a bar top separating us and crowds of fellow office revelers, we decided that a more intimate evening where we could properly get to know each other was required.
Whisking me to Picadilly Circus where my expat heart was set a-flutter (by those iconic lights) we stood near the Eros Statue (to get a picture of said iconic lights, nothing more risque), he escorted me to a charming restaurant where the lights were romantically low and the tables are perfect for an nice date.
And I panicked.
Much like when he proposed a few years later (but don’t worry, there were no Julia Roberts-esque Runaway Bride wedding shenanigans – in fact we had two ceremonies just in case) a small part of my mind freaked out at the beautiful setting, and we didn’t actually cross Rowley’s threshold for another couple of years. What can I say – my young self couldn’t handle the pressures of a first date and a nice restaurant – so we ended up in a beautiful Lebanese restaurant down the road.
So, when it came to our wedding breakfast – the slightly disingenuous name for a reception dinner – for our first round of nuptials (we had a smaller ceremony in London where we legally got married in the same room as Paul & Linda McCartney and then hauled ourselves up to Lincolnshire for the ‘proper’ church ceremony) we knew exactly where wewanted to take our family. After a celebratory champagne reception at the beautiful Landmark Hotel, collecting our even dozen core of Londoners, Lincolnshire yellow-bellies and New Zealanders, we motored down to St James for a feast worthy of the day.
Arriving in our Registry Office finery, we wandered past the quintessentially British Jermyn Street boutiques – showcasing everything from haberdashery to the Royal Family’s bootmakers – and settled along Rowley’s back wall with most of the people we loved the most in the entire world. Now whenever I book our frequent table, I always ask for the same area, purely for the memories it holds.
Rowley’s isn’t flash (something I wish I could teach my much-younger self to appreciate) there are no airs and graces either from the well-heeled diners or the lovely but not obsequious waiting staff, it is just old-fashioned class, pure and simple. No fussy white tablecloths, no having to dress up (to our amusement when we visited the other night there were 3 vicars in full collar opposite us) and each table place is set as standard with a steak knife. The restaurant is usually nicely filled with an after work/before theatre crowd, laughter echoes from each corner and there are always several couples just enjoying a little quality time.
All this time we have always ordered the same dishes on the menu. No starters, the Chateaubriand for two, a side of spinach and a couple of sticky toffee puddings to finish on a sweet note.
Creatures of almost a decade’s habit.
English-sourced, traditional meat is this restaurant’s raison d’être, and honestly, I don’t know why any one would order anything else. The building was where Walls (as in the iconic Sausages) famous butchery was established, and since 1976 Rowley’s Restaurant have continued on the delicious practice of feeding hungry diners. We adore the house speciality of mouth-watering Lake District steak, served with unlimited crisp, golden, French fries, green salad and the restaurant’s secret herb, Roquefort and butter sauce.
There are other options on the menu – deep-fried Spice Whitebait with a confit garlic mayonnaise, Lobster & Salmon Fishcakes, a cheeseburger with maple cured bacon and truffle mayonnaise and an asparagus, broad bean & pea risotto which all look lovely, but we can never resist the siren call of their Chateaubriand. It’s also one of the places in the world where I will happily order our steak medium-well to share with that husband of mine. That’s love people.
The Telegraph reviewer says that Rowley’s serve ‘what may very well be the finest steak and chips joint in the land’ and we can’t disagree even after quality testing for all these years.
Rowley’s, you have my heart.