Many of the poshest restaurants close on a Monday – after their busiest three days, there is a need to recharge batteries. There is also a long-held notion that the freshest ingredients are not available on a Monday. This makes a lot of sense, as hunting, gathering and harvesting (and most pertinently, wholesale market ) activity is very low on Sundays. So the dilemma for these guys? How can we miss out on the jamboree that is the first big money extracting festival of the year as a business suffering the ravages of recession?
I’m guessing that most will not to be able to resist. One of my friends had phoned to check on table availability at one such local food emporium. Their set lunch is less than £20 a head. No, they were not opening lunch time, but they did have a special offer for Valentines evening. £95 a head, “which includes a free welcome glass of champagne”. They cleverly have two different menus, with slightly different taste sensations for men and women (so I don’t know how they will cope with same-sex couples – not an easy question for your waiter / ress, is it? “Which one of you takes the male role in your relationship?”).
I think I will take my free glass of champagne at home, so we don’t feel just a tiny bit ripped off. Like arranging a wedding celebration. As Richard once said – “3 tier cake, rich fruit, white icing – £35 all in. Stick a model of the bride and groom on top? £135. The plastic costs £1.50. How does that work out?” (Yes, he is an accountant).
We will have one of our favourite simple meals tonight. Beef Stroganoff. Thin strips of fillet steak, half moons of slowly sautéed onions, with strips of flat mushrooms, glass of white wine when it is fried to pink for the steak, then a dollop of craime fraiche and a generous sprinkling of nutmeg (secret ingredient), with salt and black pepper. Served with plain rice, and a hefty Rioja. Posh and fun and easy.