A client lunch today at The Princess, the second such meal there in the past fortnight: don't you just love this time of year? And while we didn't manage the excesses of last time's eight-hour marathon (wasabi pistachios in the pub bit downstairs basically constituted a second on-site meal) we certainly did very well. The ideal lunch, in fact, for a chilly November in London town.
I was slightly disappointed to see that the menu had changed little, if at all, from my visit two weeks ago, but no matter: there were enough things that had grabbed my attention then to give plenty of choice again this time. It felt like a soup day so I went for today's only special, a silkily satisfying smoothie of Jerusalem artichoke, leek and roasted garlic that pressed all the right inner-warmth buttons. (Given the JA's gaseous reputation it was probably just as well we hadn't lingered in the pub downstairs for a pint of Landlord beforehand.) Both Lindsay and Andy went for the risotto, a gutsy affair studded with butternut squash, pancetta, flash-fried sage leaves and (allegedly) chestnuts. Just like our old chum Michael Vaughan (remember him?) neither hung around long enough to trouble the scorers.
The mains were great. Lindsay and I both went for the slow cooked lamb shoulder, which came with pureed pumpkin and a dollop of spinach. This was every bit as good as the massive whole shoulder I was lucky enough to have a share of at the Anchor & Hope a month or so ago, arguably even better: at least with a single portion you know where to stop! Andy plumped for the fideuas, a Catalonian pasta in the form of lozenge shaped grains a little larger than rice. This came paella-style with wild mushrooms, spinach, peas and other goodies and looked a hearty treat. Andy confirmed this impression, but clearly regretted combining it with the risotto. He was looking forward to a kip on the train back to Bedford.
We washed all this down with a couple of bottles of an interesting Sardinian cannonau (grenache), one of the excellent value recommended bottles from a longish but very helpful wine list. This, and the exemplary bread, were the finishing touches to a small but perfectly formed cosy winter lunch. And pretty good value too at just over 40 quid a head.
The Princess, 76 Paul Street, EC2A 4NE 020 7729 9270