Having Reservations…

Yesterday I went out with some friends of mine to see a show followed by some drinks and dinner. 

We had a great time. Handbagged was witty, topical and a lot of fun and with a few drinks under our belts (there may have been three grapefruit Cosmopolitans involved…for me), we expected that dinner at American-eatery-in-Soho, Jackson and Rye, would contribute some worthy state-side vittels to finish off our evening. 

And the verdict? My inaugural grits (a kind of polenta porridge) were weird, pleasant-ish but not right with shrimps, my sea bass with apple and fennel slaw was light and lovely and the pecan pie was mmm…mmm scrumptious!

But I digress. You see, Jackson and Rye don’t take reservations which is a pet peeve of mine. And I am coming across this situation in London with greater and greater frequency. 

A catch-up dinner with a friend at no-bookings Italian ‘tapas’ joint Polpo last year was planned around being there just before 7pm to ensure we got a table rather than when we were actually hungry or what was convenient for us. And looking for somewhere to eat after the theatre with Lil Chicky last October was fraught with queue after queue.


(We eventually found a table at Tuttons right on Covent Garden which was lovely…and for future reference, book-able.)

I remember when Jamie Oliver opened his sans booking restaurant chain Jamie’s Italian in 2008 and we thought we’d head down to the one in Kingston to give it a try. We queued outside – no room inside for waiting – for a barely acceptable 15 minutes. I’ve been to Jamie’s Italian once since when we were lucky to have only a five minute wait. 

To say I was put off is putting it mildly. I accept that if I haven’t booked then I have to take what I can get but this we-don’t-take-bookings nonsense is all getting a bit much for me. I don’t want to have to trawl Soho post-show because of this growing ‘no booking’ policy. What ever happened to looking after the customer? Couldn’t they at least allow some tables to be booked, leaving some free for these apparently all-important walk-ins?

Polpo’s website offers an explanation of sorts, saying that their casual Venetian ‘bacaros‘ are designed to encourage the locals to pop in for a bite to eat and to build a sense of community amongst their regulars. There are 3 Polpos and 1 Polpetto in Central London, none of which take bookings. Who are these ‘locals’ I wonder?

In any case it would appear these places are doing rather well and that the standing in line has become a badge of honour – after all, if you’ve queued (or waited in the bar) for at least an hour, the food had better be rave-worthy, or at least good enough for you to tell everyone about. I don’t know about you but after an hour, my palate becomes a little less discerning, swamped by a-drink-(or two)-while-I-waited or the sounds of my stomach growling with hunger…or both.

Luckily last night’s drinks were at one of our favourite drinking holes, the Freedom Bar, just two doors down from Jackson and Rye so The Umpire kindly did a recce before we gave up our pre-dinner perch. And the meal was delicious.

But if I’m really honest, I have my reservations as to how long I really would have waited for it.

Ye Olde Bucket List…Part Two

With the previous night’s Shakespearean sortie under my belt, on Sunday I added another satisfied tick to Ye Olde Bucket List by visiting Lord’s.

Lord’s is the home of cricket. It’s located in North London and as my local bus goes right by on its way down to Victoria Station, you can get a glimpse of the Nursery Ground over the wall. So it was with much anticipation I arrived at the gates with friend The Umpire to see Australia versus England in the second Ashes test.

With England leading by about 500 runs from the first three days of play (for those of you who don’t know your cricket, test matches can go for five days), I had little hope of an Aussie victory but the Ashes series is an age-old contest between our two nations and when in Rome London, Lord’s is what one must do.

Australia got an absolute shellacking. No surprise there given recent performances. But it was a great day. Lots of sporting banter, a cricket umpire as a companion (to answer all my inane cricketing questions), some really fabulous weather and a goodly selection of vittels to keep us sustained: what more could a person want?

Oh yeah. A few more runs on the board.

Here are a few pics of my Big Cricket Day Out.

The first one’s of yours truly, mainly to prove not only that I was there but also to demonstrate that England is actually having a Summer (note the blue sky behind the hat and sunglasses).



Fans had travelled from across the world to stand sit shoulder to shoulder and support their team.

The emergence of the players at 11am…England was STILL batting.

This is the Grace Gate, the official players entrance. It’s Grade II heritage listed – that happens a lot in London.

And this is the Big Vacuum Cleaner, ready to suck up all the rubbish it could find. Just kidding. It’s actually the media centre.

And in true form, the banter was everywhere. Even on the back of the dunny toilet door.

 

And that, my dear Gidday-ers, was Lord’s and another tick made on Ye Olde Bucket List.

Speaking of ticking things off, never fear peeps. I’m still ticking off the days until the very fabulous  birthday celebration of yours truly. Just 7 sleeps to go…