When I thought about how I wanted to celebrate my 25th birthday, I imagined cheering flutes with friends, laughter with family, a romantic night out with Allyn… and food. Lots of it.
Naturally being a self-confessed foodie, booking a restaurant (or three) is my go to for a celebration, because is there much better way to spend one’s birthday than moaning with satisfaction over a creamy rich pasta?
Last week, after spending the morning playing homemade arcade games with Allyn (yes I know, I’m a very lucky lady), I was presented with a card inscribed ‘Be My Guest’. On a somewhat rare occasion, I’d somehow put my controlling antics to one side and managed to resist every kind of temptation to pick where to spend my birthday evening, instead presenting my man with my lengthy ‘ole London bucket list – well I had to control something 😉
“A table for 2 at Gilbert Scott” it read.
Boy did good.
We perched in a cosy corner table of the luxurious Marcus Wareing restaurant, the lights beginning to dim as the piano tinkled and guests chattered over exquisite looking dishes such as the tomato, basil and olive amushe bouche that came promptly to our table.
As we perused the menu, we toasted to turning 25 with a carafe of 2015 Muscadet ‘sur lie’. The starters were a feast for the eyes but wanting to save room for dessert we went straight in for the mains and believe me there were no regrets.
Fancying a spin on a seafood dish I ordered the Cornish monkfish, served with paper thin slices of caramelised cauliflower, fregula and a rich cauliflower puree. The fish was unlike any I’ve had, served on a bone and packed with flavour. I was in amore of the fregula, small droplets of pasta, buttery and soft.
Allyn’s main almost gained food envy but with it being my birthday I was allowed to sample more than one spoonful! A slow cooked lamb rump came served on roasted spring onions, labneh and zhug (a hot coriander chilli sauce that Allyn couldn’t get enough of). On top of the dish were two grilled lamb ribs, so rich and full of flavour that they made me quite literally roll my eyes with satisfaction each time I took a bite.
On the side we ordered a portion of triple cooked chips with a smoky butter mousse that was quite literally melt in the mouth. Could this meal get much better?
Time for desserts! I toyed between half of the menu up until the last moment, finally deciding on the apricot, hazelnut and Earl Grey tart served with crème fraiche. It was sickly sweet like treacle, balanced with the fruit and a nutty base.
Allyn’s choice of a clover club cheesecake with raspberry sorbet was the prettiest dish of the night, bright pink with beautiful layers of a jellied smooth mixture and fresh berry zing.
Whilst I was busy snapping away, a sparkling plate suddenly appeared beside me! A Happy Birthday wish from the Gilbert Scott team. As I made a wish (no telling!) and blew out my candle I examined the mini dessert. A canape size lemon meringue pie almost left me with no room to finish my own pud, sweet and not so sharp with a divine marshmallow topping.
I would highly recommend Gilbert Scott for a weekday birthday occasion. The service and food is dependably excellent and it’s worth saving time for a quick wander around the exquisite St Pancras Renaissance Hotel.
For my Saturday night weekend celebrations, I organised a small dinner for 10 at Coppa Club Tower Bridge, taking place in one of their sunny cabanas on the riverfront. The former igloos that were booked up in days have now transformed into fairy lit cabins, dripping in wisteria and ivy.
It was a perfect sheltered spot for a muggy summers evening, especially for the handful of bloggers in attendance! Even your most cynical friend would want to Instagram this spot.
Now you’re paying for the surroundings perhaps more so than the food but with main courses at an average of £14 a pop, who can complain. I was impressed with my crab linguine and many other dishes around the table looked like a hit. My only pet peeve was the slow service, with top ups taking longer than my empty flute could handle but it wasn’t a spoiler in any shape or form.
Moving on from the river, we mooched over to City Social where cocktails and wine were sipped to the midnight view of London.
Extremely slightly bleary eyed with a regret of mixed drinks, I awoke on the Sunday to herd my family over to Spitalfields Market where I’d made a reservation at Blixen. A restaurant I’d walked past but never eaten in on more than one occasion, I was desperate to give it a go.
The conservatory was beautiful, every corner covered in large plants and bulb fairy lights. We plonked ourselves down on a long comfy table, scattered in cushions and spacious for 12.
The menu was packed with temptations, with even a brunch menu available all day. My roast chicken was a ginormous beast of a bone, meat falling off at the touch and dripping in juices. Alongside were some buttery potatoes and a delicious charred cabbage.
Other dishes looked equally droolworthy; a cheesy burger, chorizo bites, lamb ragu and poached eggs with a potato rosti.
For pud we ordered a selection; sweets and chocolate for the kids, some sorbet for my hungover head and a saffron spiced poached pear that was too pretty to resist.
Again you could say the service was long but you try being a Chef cooking up a meal for 12 people… as well as the other 70 covers packed with families on a Sunday lunchtime. As someone who is never in a rush to leave a restaurant, I was impressed.
Three meals later and one too many food babies conceived, I was ready to crawl into my PJs and watch Sing with my man.
Here’s to turning 25. If this year is anything like my birthday, I’ll be one happy (albeit slightly chubbier) lady.