Do you prefer the hubbub of a busy restaurant or the slightly sleepier buffer hours around opening and closing times when you have the whole place practically to yourself?
It makes me feel kind old to admit this, but I really prefer an early evening repast; one where we are tucked around a corner that makes our meal a cosy, intimate evening – whether with the long-suffering Mr Kiwi or a group of friends who I haven’t seen in ages.
Also, if I had to wait until 8/8.30pm for dinner (without strategic mealtime planning) hanger would undoubtedly kick in, and I can not be held responsible for the results.
So when I booked in a cheeky weekday dinner with that Mr Kiwi at Galvin At The Athenaeum Hotel, it was an early bird booking for us – so early that we were the first guests to grace their tables.
With our waiter tucking us into one of the booths at the back, that husband of mine did turn to me with a puzzled look on his face, and muttered ‘right at the back of the restaurant?’ making me giggle at how he continues to surprise me even after a decade together, and disagree at his grouching (#marriage). I loved our leather covered booth at the back – it was perfect to settle into and people watch whilst we sipped our champagne.
But first, the bread. After tearing a branch off the warm loaf, and liberally spreading salted butter on the sinfully soft interior dough, he practically knocked my phone out of my hand and made me take up my knife before the heat totally dissipated. And, don’t tell him this, but he was absolutely on the money. It was delectable.
The menu, put together by Michelin-starred London chefs Chris and Jeff Galvin, is an ode to British cuisine and epitomises contentment and style in a way that only the English can do. Think plush, tweedy and soul soothing – aptly matching the cheery “toodle pip!” that farewells you from the hotel doormat.
We both chose autumnal comfort as a starter (even though choosing the same dish contravenes international blogger law) – a creamy butternut squash soup with garlic cheese filled profiteroles which were utterly gorgeous (but probably best to be avoided on a date night early in the relationship…)
Then we got all carnivorous for our mains; an enormous burger (served well done as standard which apparently perturbs a lot of diners, but trust the chef) which got a ‘this is the best burger I’ve ever eaten’ thumbs up from the Mister and a rib-eye steak that was cooked to absolute perfection. They were both served with a generous portion of triple-cooked chips which we couldn’t stop nibbling.
And yes, I enjoyed a glass of Sauvignon Blanc with my meaty main; I just don’t enjoy red wine unless it’s softer than a cat’s ear.
The only very slight disappointment of the evening were our sticky toffee puddings; they just weren’t all that sticky. This is the biggest first world problem, but as dessert is the course I look forward to the most it deflated our evening just a little bit.
As you can imagine with 3 such rich courses we rolled out of The Athenaeum ready to snooze, but with smiles stretching from ear to ear.
Have you been yet?