(This photo really has nothing much to do with this post. I just saw these cakes in the Hoxton Food Hall and thought they looked cool.)
So a couple of weeks ago, in a rare flush of organisation that was only tempered slightly by the rapid realisation that the world and his mother (or at least his girlfriend) had already had the idea, I went on the hunt for somewhere nice for dinner on Valentine's Day. Now this is something I've historically avoided, partly through (often) having no-one to take, but also because I can cook a bit and I was pretty sure I was going to get ripped off in a rammed restaurant trying to squeeze every last penny of starry eyed lovers. But this year, partly because I didn't think I'd have a functioning kitchen come the big day, I thought it was worth a stab and was delighted that an online booking via OpenTable seemed to have bagged us a table at Theo Randall.
Now I have never been to Theo Randall, but I knew it by reputation and I thought it would be about right: newly designed room, upmarket Italian fare, plenty of veggie options for Antonia etc etc. A bit like Locanda Locatelli (which is great) but somewhere new for both of us. Perfect.
And then I got the call. Let's charitably say that it was OpenTable and not the restaurant that called me because of a quirk of the online reservation system rather than the restaurant's embarrassment at what they were planning to charge us. "There's a set menu that evening Mr Bush, and it's £95 for three courses," said the nice lady. "Perhaps you'd like to have a look at the menu on the restaurant's website and give us a call back." Too right I would.
And it was true. Ninety-five quid. For three courses. I've been known to splash out on that much and more for a tasting menu but for three courses with precious little choice that has to be some sort of record. And from a generous selection of veggie mains and pastas on the à la carte menu we'd have been left facing the three words every vegetarian dreads at this time of year: wild mushroom risotto.
Fuck that. We're off to Magdalen.
Happy Valentine's Day.