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Hot Chocolate recently returned from her holiday in Jamaica. I can’t tell you how well she looked; rested and glowing, and with the long plaits she’d had done just before she went away, she looked about 12 years old. That didn’t stop me going out with her though. I can take it.
We’d pre-booked dinner at the The Cookbook Café at the InterContinental London, at Hamilton Place, just off Park Lane. It’s about 20 minutes walk from Victoria Station, so, apart from the fact that I took us the wrong way round the Hyde Park Corner roundabout so we had to dice with death at one point, it was quite a pleasant walk.
This restaurant is one of several in the hotel, and has won a Three Star Award from the Sustainable Restaurant Association, a not-for-profit organisation set up to help restaurants, and others in the food industry work towards sustainability. I didn’t know that when we booked it; we’d found one of those deals where you pay a reduced price – this one was for a three course meal and Free Flowing Bubbles.
We’d chosen to have an early meal, partly because HC had only flown home the day before and partly because I’d been working and hadn’t had time to eat, so we knew we’d both be tired and hungry. And anyway, in the words of the Fabulous Frankie, “she’s always too hungry for dinner at eight.” Not too tired or hungry for non-stop chat throughout the meal though. When we worked together, we chatted when we had downtime, but now that we don’t see each other pretty much every day we just seem to have a lot to catch up on. All the time. You’d have to know us to understand the conversations, they seem to flip about a lot, but we know what each other is talking about.
Our lovely waiter offered a choice of three sparkling wines: a French white methode champenoise, a sparkling rose and Prosecco. The girls like Prosecco, so that was easy. We also asked for some tap water, which came up in bottles with mint leaves – very refreshing.
Obviously, as we were there on a meal deal, we didn’t get the full menu, but that didn’t matter at all, there was a good selection. And as soon as I asked for gluten free bread, they brought that up too. Another thumbs up.
We both decided to go for the smoked duck breast to start. It was a cold starter, served with quails’ eggs and some salad leaves and mayonnaise. I think we were actually silent while we ate this, at least to start. I think I’d probably expected it to be hot, or different, but it was lovely, with a very subtle smokiness to the duck.
HC chose lamb for her main course, served with green beans and mash, I chose the chicken. For dessert, we both went for cheese. The food was good, no complaints from either of us. Nothing else to say there. Good, honest food.
The Cookbook Café prides itself on its suppliers. Clearly, not all the food is UK produced (I don’t know anywhere in the UK where they grow cocoa trees) but they choose Fairtrade and locally produced where possible. As someone who is concerned about food miles, and the way her food is produced, these are plusses for me. (I don’t say that I always eat organic or buy Fairtrade, but where I can… And I am very fussy about my meat, and so is HC. In fact, I think I should write a blog about our meat supplier at Smithfield…But that’s a story for another day.)
The restaurant also runs food festivals from time to time; it also runs events such as Cocktail and Dessert Master classes. At £35 a throw, I think that’s pretty good value. Particularly as I am sure you get to try whatever you make.
There are also brunch menus for Saturdays and Sundays. Eat as much as you like and drink endless Bellini’s or Prosecco. Eggs, waffles, ham, smoked salmon, traditional roast dishes and desserts… I think I may be going back for many visits.
© Susan Shirley 2015