Tuesday, 8 February 2011

Some Royal Inspiration For Valentine’s Day?

By Anna Robin.

Seduction is an ancient art. From the court of Cleopatra to Mrs Wallis’s America, seduction and flirtation has ruled supreme. In Greek mythology the seduction of Helen of Troy caused a decade long war and the death of uncountable innocent lives. Seduction is clearly a dangerous tool. Those who possess the ability to seduce, in my mind, should use it for the common good. As Spiderman knew too well, with great power comes great responsibility.

However, for some reason the real masters of seduction are not throwing themselves dashingly in front of tanks or cooing in the ears of tyrants but excelling in the restaurant business.

At a preview of the Valentine’s menu at Sauterelle restaurant in the terrifyingly grand Royal Exchange, I, and a friend who kindly agreed to support my journalistic inquiry by partaking in cocktails and a five course meal, had a delightful evening watching masters of the restaurant and seduction trade.

The Sauterelle evening of seduction began with a dalliance with the mixologist, Zoran Peric, who talked us through two cocktails. At this point started the flirtatious and drunken glow that enveloped the rest of the evening, as he smoothly complemented our cocktail-shaking skills.

Clutching our second cocktail (practice makes perfect), we were shown to our table by our charming waiter. The décor of Sauterelle restaurant is more airport waiting room than chic restaurant but with tables facing out into the Royal Exchange the view for people watching was stupendous. In fact, the evening’s education in seduction continued as the age-old mix of beauty (the ladies) and money (the men) vied for each others affections on the floor below.

The attention continued as each plate was brought with a smile and a matching wine from our waiter who, helpfully, was also the sommelier. The five courses began with Yukon gold potato vichyssoise, sourdough crouton, périgord truffle cream, which was delicious but perhaps more easily recognisable as a glorified mushroom soup. Plate number four was my favourite, roast venison saddle, Jerusalem artichoke, wild mushroom fricassee, celery autumn nut crumbs venison. Perfection, I may go as far as to say, considering the romantic overtones of the evening, a food caress?

The only disappointment was a bland goat’s cheese and beetroot salad in the middle of the meal. The dessert of Iced Carrot and orange Parfait was a perfect meal ending and managed to keep the overall food consumption on the right side of full. I imagine this is incredibly important in a Valentine’s menu as the night should not end with you and your date being too full to move.

So we ate and drank and generally felt loved and special. The evening wrapped us in a cocoon of good service and luxury.

Alas! Seductions do not always have happy endings. Even a person who began as the most arduous lover can look astray. We laughed and smiled at the witty comments of our waiter as he plied our table with more delicious food and then, tragedy, as we watched heartbroken to see him supply the same care and charm to the table next to us. C’est la vie.

If you’re lucky, you might still be able to book your Valentine’s Day meal at Sauterelle restaurant. It’s £50pp and the ladies walk away with a stunning red rose, luxury chocolates from Paul A. Young and a red goody box courtesy of Kiehl's. So what are you waiting for boys?

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