Yesterday I had my first meal outside my home of the new year. And I have to say it set a pretty high standard for restaurants for the rest of 2016.
I was expecting pretty good things. After all, Fay Maschler rated The Hourglass in South Kensington as one of her favourite restaurants of 2015. Of course, being so convenient to the museums and because Fay said such good things I wasn't expecting to be able to get a table, and indeed the online booking said there were none. But tweeting them got me a booking (and there were several free tables so maybe the online system isn't working?).
After a fantastic couple of hours at the V&A (The Fabric of India, closing this weekend, is amazing if you are remotely interested in textiles, and Bejewelled Treasures, for all the magpies) I was well and truly ready for food.
It's one of those menus where you could close your eyes and point and be completely happy with your choices, but I went for fish and chips. Which wasn't perfect. The batter was a bit thick and hard, and the fish inside a bit overdone. But the chips were so delicious (I know some people get arsey when the chips are too big, and one of these was about 1/4 of a large spud) and the tartare sauce so perfect I didn't mind.
Sharon's venison suet pie with red cabbage sent her off into plans for learning to make suet pies and bringing her husband next time they are in the area (which is pretty often; they are very good about galleries and museums). It definitely had a lovely savoury aroma, but it wasn't really the sort of dish I could ask for a taste of without making a hell of a mess with the gravy.
I'd valiantly passed by the crab on toast (one of my favourite things) on the starters menu to save myself for pudding. We both had the buttermilk pudding with butterscotch pear (Sharon's very sound reasoning was that she was too full for sticky toffee and she likes her own apple crumble), although the salted caramel chocolate almost won me over. I do love it when there is a small, sweet option. The buttermilk pudding was a very good choice though. Really light, wonderfully tangy with a proper wobble. And I always love a poached pear.
It was a very good start to a year of eating out and very much to be recommended if, like me, you tend to feel a bit overwhelmed by the prosperity of South Kensington and just want nice friendly people to bring you nice food at a fair price.