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A la Colthard/Petite Maison

Ollie and I have a South African friend in town, a tour guide we met in Cape Town 20 years ago. We decided to take her to Petite Maison as in my humble opinion this is the best food in London. I ordered the same starters as last time; pissaladiere, burrata (tomato and mozzarella) warm crevettes and salmon carpaccio. Once again divine. For mains we had a whole sea bream and tomato gnocchi.  Our visiting friend thoroughly approved but confessed to eating smaller portions in her home land. Petite Maison has raised Nicois and healthy dining, no fatty creamy sauces, superbly fresh ingredients to a whole new level.

Last time it was lunch, this time dinner. Last time I was not aware of how noisy it was and we were compacted this time into the smaller tables by the wall. The greeter seemed more interested in her slender figure squeezed into a green dress (makes ya sick!!) than greeting us properly and conveying us to our table which was not made up. These are minor criticisms as the service was friendly and helpful, the waiter said the bream was enough for two persons, for example, and helped not pushed the ordering. The wine list is not cheap but we found a Bourgogne Aligote under £40.

It’s interesting how high end dining has changed. In the sixties the greatest treat was to be taken by mummy and daddy to Mirabelle or Parkes and daddy would be in a Savile Row suit, Jermyn street shirt and tie and mummy in a Norman Hartnell frock. With the arrival of chic Italian Restaurants like Alvaro and Terrazza dining out became less formal but most men still wore at least a jacket. Last night the dress was jeans, one guy was in white sweatshirt not out of place in a gym. Mobiles were on every table, the diner next to us had two and was braided by his lady companion for looking at one whilst she talked. I did not see one tie nor suit, little wonder Austin Reed went out of business. Personally I miss the glamour but it came with a certain pretension too. Certainly I do not remember eating as well as this. As for our glamorous greeter, she wore a pair of spectacles and as she glided past our table I cited the famous Dorothy Parker witticism:

Men don’t make passes at women with glasses.”

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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