This is no laughing matter.
This morning, I went for breakfast in the City. Now, one of my eateries de choix when I’m in that part of London is SOS – the downstairs bit, of course, I’m not made of money! – and I’d been semi-fantasising about their porridge since last night (which was odd, considering where I was – more of that later).
It’s awfully nice! When I’d walked past though, on my way home just before midnight, it was a hive of activity – and not in a good way. They had the painters in and a sign on the door saying that it would be closed for renovation but would be open ‘tomorrow’. No date was supplied. Did they mean tomorrow as in ‘tomorrow’? Or as in ‘the day after tomorrow but we’ve put the sign on early so tough luck’? It turns out it was the latter.
Thus it was that with porridge on my mind and murder in my heart, I ambled into Carluccio’s in West Smithfield. No porridge on the menu, so I settled – a little grumpily – for muesli with yoghurt and berries and honey. And some of their delicious coffee. Things were starting to look up. And I yielded to the temptation of some freshly squeezed orange juice. Except it wasn’t. And this is where the Michael Winner bit comes in.
Now, I don’t like to complain in restaurants but I was so disappointed with the – erm – dissonance between what I was expecting and what I was experiencing. It was almost as awful as that thing when you think you’re drinking coffee but it turns out to be tea (or vice versa). So I asked, politely – so maybe not so very like Michael Winner – if it was freshly squeezed. And my waitress, politely, went and found out that it wasn’t because they’d been terrifically busy the day before … or something.
Anyway – she very nicely offered me some fresh orange juice (because the oranges had now arrived – wtf?) for free and, although I was now awash with two cups of their lovely coffee and one glass of not-freshly-squeezed orange juice, I was still craving that sharp, clean, pulpy, authentic, invigorating and vitamin-packed sensation and so I said, ‘Yes, please’ and took it away in a paper cup to drink on my way.
Anyway, now to the plenary. Smith’s of Smithfield – please put dates on your notices. Carluccio’s – if it says ‘freshly squeezed’ on the menu, then make it so. And, note to self, when I want something great, I’m not going to put up with something just OK. Even if that makes me seem like Michael Winner.
(Sometimes, of course, things are unexpectedly greater than you were hoping for. And that balances things out, doesn’t it? Yesterday night, for example, when I was oddly thinking about porridge and before I walked back along Charterhouse Street in the moonlight, I had spent an evening that was sharp, clean, pulpy, authentic and invigorating – but probably not vitamin-packed – with some very nice people. More of which, later.)