Tuesday, May 13, 2008

A Narrow escape!

Not being French it’s very rare that we indulge ourselves in a ‘proper lunch’ during a working day. Sadly we are lucky if we get to grab a sandwich and then consume it back at the desk whilst firing off a couple of emails trying not to get crumbs in between the keys of the laptop. But today, fortunately we have promised to take some clients for lunch and having exhausted most of the reliable eateries in Canary Wharf we venture forth further down the River Thames and sit in the glorious sunshine at one of the Gordon Ramsay new pub ventures – The Narrow. I had a fabulous meal here with D at the end of last year, but it was winter and I didn’t really anticipate how extra decadent it would seem to be fed delicious food whilst basking in the rays of a fairly rare May British sun. There are some delicious starters on offer; I was toying between chicken liver and bacon salad poached duck egg or Welsh rabbit when we decided rather sensibly to forgo starters in favour of hitting the desserts later.

Not just because of the possibilities of a mound of creamy mash, I choose the cock-a-leekie pie and mash for my main meal. I am intrigued how a traditional Burns Supper stewy leek, potato and chicken stock soup works in a pie. And it’s very light; the pie has some chunks of poached chicken in the light broth and doesn’t seem to have the prunes that are often added to a cock-a-leekie soup. And the mash is very nice too, it just seems that mash works in any weather. Or is that just my humble opinion?

H’s Hereford rib-eye steak, Portobello mushroom and parsley butter looked pretty fine also, and that was before the addition of the chips and the nutmeg laced spring greens. In fact all the dishes seem to really hit the spot and our cunning plan of eschewing the starters mean we have the pick of the dessert list and decide to order our three favourites for the centre of the table.

We went for firstly, a chocolate tart – well it was compulsory, it was deliciously soft, melt-in-the-mouth and quickly devoured by the flashing spoons.

Next there was orange posset and shortbread; I thought this would give us a refreshing citrus bite after all that richness. And it did all that and more! It managed to be tongue tingling tart and creamy smooth at the same time and was a beautiful colour.

Finally there was a lemon cheesecake with rhubarb. Initially I held back from this, I was concocting my own ‘jaffa cake’ with both the orange posset and chocolate tart – very good! But the mmmm noises from around the table lured me in, and I was really surprised, I don’t generally like cheesecake but I had to agree with the consensus this was a seriously tasty version of a cheesecake. Maybe I have been converted!

Sadly all too soon, we had to leave the scraped-clean dessert plates discarded on our sun drenched table, with the French windows open wide overlooking the sparkling River Thames. Those silver towers of Canary Wharf which, glittering greedily on the horizon, remind us that those days of whiling the whole afternoon away over a bottle of Malbec or maybe a bottle or two of Laurent Perrier Rosé have long since gone. Such nineties decadence has been replaced with two-hour conference calls, endless spreadsheets, looming deadlines and then nursery commitments. But we all feel that it was a wonderful Narrow escape whilst it lasted and to be honest, we probably couldn't drink much more than a glass of something deep and red anyway. Clearly we're just so out of practice!

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