Monday, February 25, 2008

Bees. Busy As.

This year in an effort to be healthier I made a more conscious decision to make and eat dinner at home during the week and take lunch in with me as many times as I possibly can. To dine out only at the weekends, thereby cutting out those pesky calories and credit card debt in one fell swoop. This is in stark departure from last year where everyday, by lunchtime I ate every calorie lost in the morning gym workout. And then went out for dinner to top it all up. January, and most of February, went swimmingly and we ate out less, made more thoughtful choices about where and what to eat when we did.

This week it all caught up with me. The endless chasing of things to keep me entertained at the weekends and an unusually high workload has left me feeling a little stretched. So on Thursday evening, with me bored of home cooking and V wanting to give me a break (especially from my whinge-ing about it) we decided to break our rule and go out for dinner. I had just finished a nice long swim and could have eaten a horse. Instead we chose Sri Nam which has a reputation as a fancy-schmancy Thai eatery in the busy Canary Wharf district. The ground floor of the restaurant is the main space for a quick meal at lunchtime but at night it’s a bar. On a Thursday evening it was like any other jam packed city pub, full of suits talking at the top of their voices and drinking away the stresses and bonuses of their jobs with colleagues. The seated bit is up wide concrete steps and we got a table for 2 quite quickly. We’ve been before and the décor was the same, nice linen, dim lighting, fresh orchids and comfortable chairs, if a little too closely packed together. Nice but not memorable. This time the food was disappointing to say the very least. Fish and chicken that didn’t taste very fresh or flavourful and service that was in enough of a hurry to make us feel intrusive and in their way. Wallets lighter, un-sated palates and 35 minutes later we made way for the line of people eagerly waiting on the stairs for a table. Sri Nam did not in any way live up to its reputation or even our last experience. I think my home cooking might have been worth more, grumbling and all.

On Friday we enjoyed dinner overlooking the Greenwich skyline, at the home of new-ish friends. While being entertained by their 2 year old toddler we ate a fine homecooked meal and chatted with the hosts and their guests, 2 couples and one singleton, none of whom we had met before. By the end of the evening it was duly established that any name mentioned was somebody known by somebody else in the group. Apparently it’s a small world if you went to similar B schools. It was way past midnight before we left.

Saturday started with a much needed late start. A swim followed by quick lunch followed by a 1 year olds birthday party all afternoon. And as 1 year olds birthday parties tend to be, it was full of little kids – about 12 babies and toddlers, each accompanied by a full set of parents. V, I and two other couples were the helpers as it turned out. It was fun and I cuddled loads of little ones, sweet and plump and oh so lovable. Inspite of the drooling. At around 5pm I rushed home to spend the next few hours with a very pregnant friend. Baked and plied her with rich chocolate cake and caught up on all the gossip while V watched six nations rugby and dozed in front of the TV. Then her hubby arrived and demolished another quarter of the cake. Then they left and our pre-planned-going-to-dinner friends arrived and with them we charged to Il Bordello in Wapping.

Il Bordello had superlative reviews everywhere on the net and bonafide Italians in our friend’s office had strongly recommended it. It took us two weekends to get a booking and in the end it didn’t really live up to its reputation. It’s the ground floor of a revamped dock warehouse, not quite by the water but definitely imbued with the feeling that the cobbled streets that led to it served an important purpose. The décor is simple and quite uninspired, some stone walls adjacent to copper plated panels, tables covered with plastic table cloths and packed too close for comfort. The menu was extensive, serving the usual array of pasta’s, pizza’s and large meat meals, nothing unique or different than on many an Italian restaurant in London. The potions were huge – even the salads we ordered to start with seemed to be half a field of greens per plate. My tuna and bean salad turned out to be a plate of lettuce with canned tuna and canned beans turned over onto it - tasteless and clearly not Italian. I then ordered what I consider the benchmark in Italian cuisine, Spaghetti Bolognaise and V what he considers his benchmark, a Pizza. Mine was big enough to feed 3 people and was tasty if a bit drowned in tomatoes. V left half his pizza so that was that. A minestrone soup and a dish of seafood linguine ordered by two of the others were pronounced as ‘quite good’ but on the whole we felt let down in the face of all that hype.

Then deciding we were still young at heart (a sign of old age when you keep saying this) we hoofed it to trendy Hoxton Square. It was buzzing with the young and restless and we were clearly out of our depths. So instead of standing in any of the endless queues at 1am we enjoyed a few rounds at the Reliance. Easy music and a slightly older than teenage crowd meant we fitted in a bit better. Caught a cab home at about 2.30 and then crime show TV for me till India-Australia cricket for V took over.

Forced to wake up mid-morning on Sunday to cook a meal for friends with a baby. Spent all afternoon entertaining them, plying them with butter chicken and aloo gobhi and left over cake and strong Caribbean coffee. By the time they left it was tea-time. I was too tired to sleep or concentrate on very much, even TV. So a few hours of pottering around the house, packing lunch’s, sorting out the kitchen and making some calls to India and I was ready for bed. At 7pm.

Saying it was a busy week followed by a busier weekend would be something of an understatement. I’m snoozing now.

Sri Nam: North Colonnade, Cabot Square, Canary Wharf, E14. Ph: 020 7715 9515
Il Bordello: 75 – 81 Wapping High Street, London E1Y 2WG. Ph: 020 7481 9950


  1. Anonymous1:20 AM

    okaaay.... I'm now convinced you have enough energy for a 1000 people:-)

  2. Anonymous6:12 AM

    So many babies!!!

  3. Deepa: I don't. Which is why I have been a heap of sleep all this week!

    PH: The best bit being I could play with them and return to parent once they got grouchy/ heavy/ poopy/ wail-y!