Monday, 11 July 2011

Belgian Helps Cat Through Tube Ordeal

By Cat McGovern.

Why is the tube so shite? When embarking on a hellish journey on this device, I always check the TFL Journey Planner so that it can give me a rough idea about when I will be at my desired destination. Today it and TFL have failed me and it has put me in a stonker of a mood. 22 minutes to Baker Street from West Brompton seems reasonable. Only, today it 50 minutes! Why? Because the tube is shite; fact.

This means I am half an hour late for Café Luc’s 1st Birthday, situated on the very pleasant Marylebone High Street. A modern Belgian restaurant - and no, it’s not another Belgo - Café Luc is quite different. It is also next to my favourite shop, Cath Kidston, so this makes my mood calmer. The lady on the door is all smiles and enthused by our presence and guides us in.

I pick it up the cocktail from the tray of drinks and navigate to a table filled with cheese blocks. Said cocktail initially confuses my taste buds as it looks like a Mojito, but there’s something quite different about it. It smacks of rum and the taste of mint and sugar is subtle, but there’s something else in there I cannot identify. Fortunately, the general manager comes over and introduces himself, probably because I look so confused yet engrossed in the cocktail. He tells me that it is called an Orange Pekoe Ceylan Mojito and that a Mariage Freres tea infused rum is used. I express my love of cocktails to him, in particular martinis and immediately a Marco Polo Martini arrives with the same tea flavour present. It is exquisite and a top-notch martini. Thinking about it logically, the tea must mean that it is healthier than other cocktails, so I should have them to be healthy right? Hmm... perhaps not Cat.

I see that steak tartare is amongst the offerings, and delight in sampling one. Small cones of frites and shrimp croquettes are also being circulated and I wonder why I have never had this kind of food in Belgium. I have, of course, eaten a mountain of frites and mayo, but the shrimp croquettes are apparently a Belgian delicacy and I can see why. They are light and not too greasy and go fantastically with frites. But my full attention is on the tartare. I pop a few naughtily into my mouth and the waiter notices my love of them, and repeatedly leaves trays of them on my table. Score!

A man with an amusingly large bottle of Louis Roederer champagne, affiliated with Café Luc, tops up everyone’s glasses and I coyly beckon him over with my feminine wiles. Just as I’m settling into the evening, the event is suddenly over. People trickle out and I’m left with the horrid prospect of the return journey on the tube. TAXI!

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