With restaurants opening indoors and outdoors I visited two regulars of mine.
I have been patronising Olivo in Victoria for 30 years. It was started by Mauro, a quiet Sardinian, and majoring on regional cuisine from his native isle.
Italian restaurants before then were more showbiz with photos of film stars autographed for the proprietor.
At the lower end Spag Bol was the dish of the day and you could eat eight types of veal.
Mauro served up in his cheerful yellow and blue decor more unusual pasta like spaghetti all bottarga (grey mullet) and it soon took off.
So much so that there was an Olivetto, Olivo carne (meat) and became more an operation than a one-off restaurant.
Last Tuesday I went there.
Gone was the yellow and blue decor symbolic of Sardinia’s sun and sea, replaced with a more minimalist black and silver.
However the cuisine was still top class and the service helpful. I missed Maria the dark haired Maitresse’d who made many a head turn but the bottarga was still there.
At £150 for two – with my guest drinking Coca Cola and me having a Campari and orange, a glass of white wine and one of red – you could not call it cheap but a good example of how a restaurant has morphed into a successful brand without compromising its standards.
There was a queue at the Ivy at lunchtime yesterday.
It’s a smart operation concentrating on us girls with cocktails and open all day.
Here my guest and I enjoyed cocktails, a bottle of chilled rose and two courses and coffee.
The bill was £130 – quite fair these days.
At the moment restaurants are full and flourishing as diners come out of lockdown.
However they need to be less arrogant especially at the top end.