THE PRINCESS: WHO STOLE THE DUMPLINGS?
A simple supper tonight with two very good chums who I had not seen for a long while. A highly literate Essex housewife and her meal ticket.
I had wanted to try The Fox which was due to re-open this week. Unfortunately, that has been delayed so, as we needed to eat within a short distance of Liverpool St, I plumped for a reservation at The Princess.
I had forgotten how abominably loud the restaurant area can get when the bar below is full of London’s equivalent of the B&T crowd as it was on this rainy Friday night. When I finally managed to fight my way through the crowds and climb the spiral staircase, I could barely make myself heard by the waitress.
Eventually, I was able to get her to understand and was shown to a centre table while she took care of my dripping coat without batting an eyelid
When my friends arrived and deposited their equally drenched coats we chose quickly from the small menu which is a hybrid of Iberian and Italian and a few other things thrown in for good measure.
To begin, two of us chose flash fried squid on top of a mound of skordalia. Slightly chewy but with a good light, crisp batter. I did, however, expect the skordalia to have a more garlic kick.
The housewife chose a risotto made with roasted squash which, bizarrely for an other wise vegetarian dish, came with a big slice of (unannounced, I think ) pancetta on top. A problem for her, but not for me as I helped myself to it.
Two main courses were of the robust variety with solid but unremarkable versions of those gastropub staples, Lamb shank and belly pork. Not a lot to report. They were well flavoured hunks of meat and welcome on a cold night.
More interesting was a dish of Fideus ( a small grain like pasta ) with wild mushrooms which we all helped devour.
We ordered two desserts to share between the three of us and when the wait for them extended past the twenty minute mark, we began to think that the kitchen was struggling to cope with the fact that the dining room had now filled to capacity. The waitress finally appeared with two plates, one of which held the banana tatin we had ordered and the other one which did not hold the ricotta dumplings with chocolate sauce which was our other choice. Instead, she plopped down a plate containing a chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream with the words “ I am really sorry, we can’t find the dumplings”
How does one lose dumplings? Presumably they are not things that you leave laying around and forget where you put them.
Still, they were incredibly apologetic and gave us the puds on the house. Very good they were too with the tatin having an excellent light base and the chocolate pudding a delicious rich molten centre.
I was off the juice tonight after a week of over indulgence and because I have another personal trainer course tomorrow. My friends, however, splashed out on a bottle of champagne which I did not taste but they seemed to enjoy.
Service throughout the meal was as good as I can recall anywhere and well deserving of the 12.5% added to the bill which came to just over £100 for the three of us.
All in all, a decent neighbourhood supper with no fireworks but solid, steady cooking in pleasant surroundings. That is if you go after 8pm when the kids have gone and you can actually hear yourself think.