The lights are on but nobody is home. I’ve vacated life, turned off all forms of messages and checked out. Sophie’s birthday has broken me, physically and financially, more than my own, more than Glastonbury, or any lads holiday. There was champagne on the Thursday, so much champagne, and sherry for reasons unknown and darts, well, holes in a very expensive wall. Then stirring from a slumber on her actual birthday, more champagne, a pitch-perfect lunch at Cuubo, negronis, more champagne, cocktails, tequilas, more fucking champagne, wine, then the realisation that we had a train to catch in six hours time. All of this before the main event in London. It’s little wonder I write this now in the throes of flu. Bird, bat, Colombian, or otherwise.

We made the train. Don’t ask me how. Dropping the bags off at the suite of Hotel Cafe Royal that we would never be able to afford ourselves, before walking the 30m to The Devonshire for a pint of the black stuff as they open the doors. More negronis, more champagne, a brilliant afternoon with the most wonderful friends in Bentley’s. The French House, Dram, Three Sheets, a ride on one of those of stupid fucking tuk-tuk things that charged forty quid for three minutes, Trisha’s just in time for the band to finish and Gerry’s just in time for the band to start. I’m still not over that tuk-tuk. Want the real cost of living crisis? It’s those bastards. I can only assume it’s the licensing fee for playing The Best of Akon on repeat.

And Bentleys? It’s brilliant but then it always is. The only people who don’t like it are the ones who have never been, I assume put off by the pert £9 native oysters and lack of any real value on the wine list. Two starters off the specials board; crab on toast and prawn and scallops gyozas. The latter stars, fragrant and spiked with heat. Sure, it’s dressed-up for Regents Street but the principals are correct.

Mains range from a £44 tranche of halibut, to fifty quid turbot with morels and Jerusalem artichoke, each cooked with the absolute precision you’d expect from a Richard Corrigan restaurant. There is crab pasta for the birthday girl and an arms-length of battered haddock, served with chips that have been fried with none of this Heston nonsense, lemon wrapped in muslin, mushy peas that aren’t that great and a tartare that really is. We pass the haddock around the table and still don’t get close to finishing it.

The bill is a mortgage payment, helped with martinis, a £180 bottle of Palmer Blanc de Blanc and more Gavi than sensible between four. Fish isn’t cheap, nor should it be, and Bentleys is about as polished as fish restaurants get. With no new restaurants booked for nearly three weeks I think I’m going to take a break from here. We might even book a holiday. After last weekend we both need one.


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