My wife and I don’t get out as often as we’d like, but every once in a while, a Gift Horse comes along and it would be impolite, neigh (!) foolish, to look it in the mouth.
Such a Gift Horse trotted along on Tuesday when, by a combination of circumstances and generosity, we found ourselves as premature Empty Nesters: my stepdaughter was staying over at her dad’s; and our sons had been invited for a joint sleepover at one of the oldest lad’s classmates’.
What were we to do? Stare at the telly all night? Indulge our fantasises with an evening of wild passion? Nah! Seen that, done that. Got the chafing scars.
This Gift Horse was presenting us with the chance to get out of the house. Together. Sans babysitting fee. So like a couple of racehorses approaching Beecher’s Brook, we jump at it.
And thus we found ourselves in the posh and plush surroundings of the upstairs restaurant of The Wells in London’s uber-expensive Hampstead.
It’s owned by the sister of the London Evening Standard’s uber-critic Fay Maschler and we figured that if it was good enough for her, then it would most certainly be good enough for us.
Located in the beautiful leafy back streets of the universe’s most expensive village (pop. Wealthy Americans, Russians, Japanese, celebrities and bankers), the Wells is part-pub, part-restaurant, both effortlessly set in a magnificent townhouse.
This was our opportunity to feel like we had ‘arrived’. And we did. We felt it. At the table next to ours sat four Extremely Rich Older Folk who we earwigged throughout our meal as they bragged on and on and on about knowing Simon Cowell’s brother, about holidaying at Sandy Lanes (the world’s playground for the super-rich), about rubbing shoulders with billionaires, and about money, money, money – both making it and spending it.
Whatevs…they still went to the toilet after every course. Just like us normal folk.
Besides, we were pretty flush ourselves, what with saving on the babysitter fees, so we were there to fill our boots. Eat now, pay later. On the credit card.
Surprisingly, though, it didn’t turn out as expensive as we’d anticipated – around £50 a head, with a delicious bright and zingy bottle of Yealand Chenin Blanc included. Perhaps we should do this more often.
But what of the food?
My Successful Other Half started with ham hock, pea salad with a poached egg and mustard sauce.
I went for scallops on pureed potato. Hers was a little on the large side for a starter, and the ham a bit too firm compared to the slow-cooker gammon I make at home, but delicious nonetheless. My scallops were perfectly cooked, though the puree was a touch too sloppy to pick up with my wide-pronged fork.
The mains, though, were a triumph.
The missus chose organic salmon with caramelized fennel, kale and a caper, dill and white wine sauce, based mainly on the fact that I’m allergic to fish so never cook it at home, plus she wouldn’t have to share it with me.
But it was my main, I’m glad to report, that stole the show: a plate of thickly-sliced salt beef brisket that was as melt-in-the-mouth soft as it was meaty, served with turned boiled new potatoes and a tart mustard sauce.
My wife finished with an oozing, scrumptious sticky toffee pudding.
While I, as usual, went for the cheeseboard, which was both generous in portion-sized, and imaginative in the chosen cheeses: palate-tingling Montgomery Cheddar, creamy Roblechon and tastebud-exploding Lanark Blue.
And the Scores on the Doors?
Average of total: 8