Busy busy busy this week and I have a silly night of birthday frolicks tonight so it's not going to get any better. Just time for a quick round-up of some quality indulgence in the past few days.
Stretching the definition slightly, Alice and I celebrated Chinese New Year last Thursday with a trip to Dragon Castle, the magnificently OTT development just down the road from the Elephant. I went here once before with Mark and we tried one or two of the more adventurous dishes that I'd been reading about in the early reviews: duck tongues were disappointing; pork belly and eel less so. But the restaurant itself had impressed, despite (or maybe because of) the cheesy birthday music that blasted out of the PA system at regular intervals throughout the evening. It was big, bold and busy, and well worth the cheeky cab ride after we'd kicked off the evening with a few Borough pints.
This time round, despite the auspicious time of year, it was pretty quiet. A pity, because the food was even better, and far more consistent. We started with some soft-shell crab (good, if slightly overwhelmed by the nutty chilli dressing), seaweed with cashews (standard) and golden garlic scallops, which were very good. A slight communication failure meant we had two each, but we were far from disappointed: good and fresh, the scallops were served on the shell, perfectly cooked and with just the right amount of silky garlicky melted butter. To follow: some pillowy tofu with chilli that almost persuaded me it would be OK to go veggie. Almost. For me, Chairman Moa's pork belly (disconcertingly described as Chairman Mouse) proved to be a generous number of juicy chunks of pig in a rich, tangy, incredibly deep and dark aromatic sauce. As with Howard's trip to Acorn House, the inclusion of broccoli was a little odd, but this time it worked pretty well. Egg fried rice and Singapore vermicelli (which would have been a meal in itself) and a decently prices Gewurtztraminer completed an excellent value top meal.
Fun and games at the third time of asking on Friday night at Wrights, sitting up at the bar (where else) with Mark and Howard. Lots of top-end oysters, some cheaper ones slipped into the beef pie, a couple of bottles of decent plonk, one or two porters and a lobster thermidor later and we left our perches more than a few quid lighter but very happy with our lot. Really must go back and review it properly one day.
The same goes for Chez Bruce, where I had a fabulous lunch on Saturday to celebrate Cat's birthday. An unfeasible number of children and assorted accompanying adults squeezed into the comfortable private room at this Wandsworth favourite. Under such circumstances it would be impossible to review the place in detail (we didn't have access to the full menu for a start), so I guess I'll just have to arrange to go back some other time. Never mind. The highlight was a rabbit, leek and salsify tagliatelli (above) that hit all the right buttons. The kids also did very well with terrific looking chicken and chips which were finished off without complaint by one or two lucky dads. Special thanks must go to our waiter, who shepherded us through a potentially trying meal with endless patience and good grace.