“For once maybe someone will call me ‘sir’ without adding ‘you're making a scene’.”
- Homer, Scenes from the Class Struggle in Springfield (3F11)
Going somewhere for breakfast is a strange experience. Going for breakfast in Mayfair even stranger. To get up, get dressed smartly, and head out early on the tube without eating doesn't feel right. It leaves a hole in the stomach and a taste of early flights in the mouth - one croissant and three cups of Pret filter coffee on the tongue.
Sitting in a restaurant in Mayfair in front of curried fish, rice, and discussions of business, a glance out of the window revealed three men in tweed, cantering horses. Again, a strange place for breakfast, Mayfair. But then, a slightly strange place altogether. The Queen is your neighbour, and champagne, cigars, and caviar your corner shops.
Not a place I eat often, clearly; but it was my birthday, I wasn’t paying, and for reasons of a long family story that isn’t worth telling, I needed a location in London where the locals were ‘safe’ - for their benefit, not just hers. Fortunately, there were no altercations on the short walk between the tube and Cafe Murano, even if three swaying, Special Brew swigging, fingerless glove wearing gentleman did appear outside the Ritz as we walked past - how does she do it?
Cafe Murano is a small, smart, clean restaurant, with staff who seemed so courteous, professional, and pleasant it made me feel nauseous. With the front of house being so good, that could only mean the chefs, previously balancing knives on their fingers and deboning salmon blindfold, would be quivering wrecks, mistaking soap for garlic and dishwasher fluid for olive oil. Seriously, she has that effect. Many a restaurant steeped in history and laden with Michelin stars destroyed in the seconds it takes her to order a side of bread.
But still the meal grew better. The food perfect, the portions a tad small, but all the more reason to order more courses. The vegetables crisp and fresh with tangy ricotta and a helping of someone else’s beef carpaccio. Meat makes a meal. Tender halibut followed, sitting atop three pieces of asparagus - I took a second to name each stem - and scattered with some sort of crumb. As the wine flowed too fast and my taste-buds had been seared by the 17 inches of sugared icing of my bought-in birthday cake, pudding was a non-event. I imagine it was as good as the rest.
And then it was over. We stayed for hours. We gave them every chance to prove the strangeness of Mayfair or flander and confirm the inevitability of her curse, but they single-handled failed on both counts. Clearly an excellent and charmed restaurant. Good luck to Fifteen is all I can say - she’s heading there tonight...