Tuesday, December 18, 2007

A festive Stanza

It’s our Christmas team lunch today and I always struggle over a destination. First of all we are pretty limited locally, though building work of a restaurant style nature is taking place very close to us so next year may have better potential secondly getting everyone together round the same table at the same time is always a real challenge and unfortunately despite our best efforts another J couldn’t join us today due to sickness. In fact we have all been taken it in turns to be ill and H’s little KK is also suffering horribly today but H really wanted to be with us today so she called upon the kind ministrations of K to tend to KK.

I’ve chosen the completely unheard of and untried Stanza in the West End. The menu looked great, modern and British and not just some dried plate of turkey and all the dull trimmings. Also, and perhaps evening more important that were able to take our booking for seven so late and so close to Christmas – phew. And on arrival I had to admit I was a little worried, it was entirely empty and you seemed to ascend from a strangely municipal entrance. The view that had been remarked on in another review was perhaps ironic as it seemed to be the not very happening street below and a birds' eye view of a fire station. Ahh maybe that’s it, perhaps they had a thing for firemen!

I managed to alarm the staff with one of my newly characteristic coughing fits and we ended up with some scrummy cocktails – purely for medicinal purposes of course served on a wonderfully sparkly granite bar top.

I start with a magnificent salad of Jerusalem artichokes, soft poached hens egg and Secretts peashoots. And it is really lovely, artfully arranged and as usual I am delighted when the golden yolk breaks and oozes over the earthy salad below. Delicious!

For the main course we all had the same brilliant idea - the aged Aberdeen Angus rib of beef (for two) 35 day aged, triple cooked chips, grill garnish and béarnaise sauce.

Now as this was for two and there were six we were fortunate we were able to pair up in twosomes of beef doneness. S and I went for rare, pink and fabulous! And what a choice, the beef was a magnificent beef, with superb chips served in little pots and my ever favourite tarragony béarnaise sauce – just stunning!
We also stepped up our five a day quota and piled the remaining space on our table with bowls of fine winter vegetables. This was a very happy cow, and we were very happy to consume it and all the accompaniments.

A perfect meal has is crowned with a little St. Clements’s cream Valrhona chocolate mousse, I have a sudden desire for a spot of dessert wine and ask the waiter’s advice as to what would complement my chocolate mousse. And he certainly found something honeyed and gorgeous for me and what a glass he served it in. I think there was half a bottle in there, and the meal ended in a hazy sweet, rich and chocolaty cloud of loveliness – a crowning glory indeed.

Stanza was a real find, okay there weren’t many of us in there but then great, we had the attentive and charming staff to ourselves. They even kindly furnished us with crackers so we wouldn’t feel left out. We had a divine time and it was with great regret we left that modern yet funky cocoon to join the real world again, phone calls had to be made, reviews done and clients placated.

Thank you Stanza, you did us proud, two festive forks for you!

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