The final excitement of the London summer, before we went home for the Ricke family vacation, was Andrew's birthday. I think I was almost as excited about it as he was, and we both had a great time. Since he is a banker and a London gentleman, I wanted to give him a suitable birthday celebration, so we went to Mayfair for some old school, old boys fun. I had to work that day, but Andrew took the day off and met me during my (extra-long) lunch break. We went to Bentley's Oyster Bar for lunch. We had seen the chef, Richard Corrigan, on one of Jamie Oliver's TV shows and liked his food philosophy, so we wanted to try one of his restaurants, and it did not disappoint. When we showed up for our reservations, the staff greeted us by name, and as we were ushered through the restaurant, everyone said hello and wished Andrew a happy birthday. We sat down at our table in a beautiful room with antique silver everywhere and walls covered in William Morris fabric. As soon as one server handed us our menus, another handed us glasses of champagne on the house. As the name suggests, the restaurant specializes in seafood. Andrew started with some squid stuffed with chorizo and feta, and I had a lovely, ice cold gazpacho with little toasts and rich, garlicky aioli. Then I had grilled sea bass with baby leeks and romesco sauce, and Andrew had a gorgeous fish pie with huge scallops, prawns, and chunks of salmon. We barely had room for dessert, but we shared a coconut-lime rice pudding, which topped everything off quite nicely. After lunch, we walked over to Jermyn Street, which has long been the place for gentlemen to buy shirts, and we looked at some for Andrew because he was getting ready to start his new job at Barclays HQ. After that, I sent him off to the Tate Modern to look at a photography exhibit while I finished work. Later, we met the Kiwis for some tacos and margaritas in Notting Hill. The food was delicious, but the tacos were the size of saucers. And I mean little espresso-cup saucers. They were so tiny! But we had a great time, and we knew we would soon get some real Mexican food at home.
The only other thing to report from the summer was our next flat-finding expedition, which was as easy as the first flat finding was difficult. We knew we needed to move closer in so Andrew could get to work at Canary Wharf more easily. We dithered for a while about where to look, then Andrew had the brilliant idea to figure out our ideal location and work down from there. So one Sunday we went to Marylebone High Street to talk to some estate agents. We discovered that the estate agents' offices close early on Saturdays (makes sense to me...) but we found a guy who was just closing up shop and who was willing to have a chat with us. He made us feel like we could potentially find a small place in Marylebone at the very upper edge of our budget, but we didn't get our hopes up too high. He showed us a basement flat that we could afford, but it was teeny-tiny, even smaller than our flat in Enfield. We gave him our information and didn't expect to hear anything, but I got a call from him the next week about a flat, went to see it the next day, and put down our names right away. We sent in our deposit but had to wait until early October to move. That was the only drawback, though. I'll write more about the flat and post some pictures soon. And on my next post, our family vacation in the Wild West!