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a la Colthard

Yesterday Bob and I travelled up to London for the birthday celebration lunch of his godson’s mother, an old friend of mine too. She had booked the Oxo Tower for the event. I am being forced to revise my dictum of not trusting a restaurant with panoramic views. The food and service were stunning as were the views up and down the River Thames at Bankside. I found myself making comparisons with Auckland and Sydney.

From the Oxo we could see comparable skyscrapers in the city but the real difference was opposite us was – the rotunda of St Paul’s Cathedral, you simply do not see any old buildings in Australasia.

Our friend organised the menu so I cannot comment on price. The service though was professional and my pumpkin soup rich and hearty, followed by a delicious chicken breast in a mustard jus. In the style of the modern restaurant that wants to work the tables there are no set meal times and we had to yield the table at 3.00pm. However they found us a place in the bar. It’s a slick operation – it has to be – but so what lacking in warmth, soul  and intimacy.

My dear friend Nick Emmett of English’s has reached the finals of the restaurant manager of the year.

Rightly so.

It’s a smaller operation but Nick knows his customers (‘usual table 91 outside, number 2 inside, Mrs Colthard’ never Daphne, let alone Daffers) and that is why I return.

I was less impressed by our hotel the Hotel du Vin formerly Cannizaro House, Wimbledon.

It’s a magnificent building with gardens overlooking the park.

The greeting was poor and although most of the tables were empty we were refused entry to the conservatory for a coffee. The room itself had poor light and it took ages for an answer to my call to reception for directions on where to find the bottle opener. I felt the Australasian hotels had the edge in comfort, service and cost.

A recurrent theme in our organ is adapting to the demands of a modern society that we oldies do not full understand.

At the table was the young  niece of our hostess. The girl could have been a model, willowy figure, tall,  strong facial features. She must have spent 90 % of the time on her mobile with no interaction with the group. I still remember the saying “Children should be seen but not heard”, but we should add “without mobile”. I would have liked to have conversed with her but it was simply not possible. Ok, we are boring old farts but what was happening in her mobile world that was so much more interesting and might have she learned some experiences from this old trout that has been round the block ? I guess that, like St Paul’s amidst the skyscrapers, we are an anachronism.

Daphne Colthard
About Daphne Colthard

After graduating at RADA but finding no roles Daphne went into magazine journalism with Good Housekeeping. Widely recognised as one of the country's leading restaurant and hotel reviewers, particularly by herself, Daphne is the author of "Bedded and Breakfasted", a light hearted chick novel and Grand Hotels DC: the Daffers Dictionary. Daphne lives in West London and is married to an investment banker Oliver. They have 2 boys Humphrey and Tarquin. More Posts