When I'm old and have little more to do than dress and ride the bus for free from 9.00am, my dream - the dream - is to own a restaurant. Not a restaurant to be involved in and not a restaurant aiming for Michelin level food. One that I can shuffle to every day for lunch, sit in my corner, and wait until closing.
It's an Italian stereotype - the old man alone at the lone table sipping wine, beer, coffee, or hovering a spoon above cold soup. He's never going to move and no-one is ever going to take his place. Why? Because he's the owner.
And if I had to choose that restaurant today, it would be Branca.
In the heart of Oxford's fashionable Jericho, Branca serves the sort of food I could eat everyday and the sort of cocktails I could drink every minute. We last visited the week before Christmas, when they were setting the place for multiple Christmas parties. Managing to negotiate the use of a table for a short time, we shared a starter of antipasti, then liver and lamb mains. The lamb was slightly too rich, served with potatoes dauphinoise and a syrup like gravy - I was glad the starter had been light. There was also confusion around the greens. Spinach, chili and garlic were said to be the only thing available, before the lamb was then presented with broccoli. Perhaps they knew this sweet dinner needed an additional green balance.
No pudding or coffee as the coin in the tables metre had expired. Probably a good thing as I was sorely tempted by another mango caipirinha.