Monday, September 22, 2008

Petrus. Pre-dinner drinks.

So, FINALLY, I've sat down and actually plotted out the design and architecture of what was easily the best meal of my life. As previously described, hubby and I went to Petrus in London back in June, before it became Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley, (pictured) not knowing it had just been named, "The Best Restaurant in London."

We took a cab over which is an experience in itself - I've taken London cabs before here in the States and still wonder why more companies don't use them - they're so easy to get in and out of! Particularly when you've had an 8-course meal with a pre-dinner cocktail, pre-dinner champagne, plus wine (wink wink). And the little fold-down seats are adorable.

Anyway, we arrived early for a drink. As we sat in the lounge and perused the 10+ page cocktail menu, we could tell immediately that things here were just a bit different. Remember that Sesame Street song? "One of these things is not like the others..." well, it was kind of like that. We felt ever so slightly out of place. Now both of us were dressed to the nines mind you, but still, the whole vibe here just DRIPPED wealth. These people weren't just rich. They were wealthy. At ease with themselves and their lush surroundings. They were used to this stuff. Meanwhile, my hubby and I had, "We're trying too hard! We're dumb American tourists!" emblazoned in Sharpie pen across our foreheads. Even the young female escort hanging all over two rich old farts in the corner seemed more at home in this place than us. And that's saying something because you could tell she hadn't been invited. She was purchased. She was ol' "Escort #9" with a bullet.

It didn't help that the cocktail waitress came over and said, ever so curtly, "May I HELP you? Are you LOOKING for SOMETHING?" At that moment, I was so grateful for my sweet but inwardly evil, brassy southern upbringing, as well as my training with Chatham alums. In a voice that dripped with honey (and hopefully was not trying too hard) I stated, "Why yes, we're here for a dinner reservation and would like to get a drink."

Her whole face changed. I guess the magic word was "reservation" because not only did she swing into action, but three or four other hostesses came back frequently from then on to check and see if we were all right. Now THAT is more like it! We were showered with fancy cocktail nibbles and the hostess offered to walk us over to the restaurant when we were ready to go. And of course the drinks would be added to our dinner bill. No fuss, no muss. I could get used to this.

My cocktail, simply put, was stupendous. Tall glass, crushed ice, two straws, and god knows what else. That night is such a blur that I have absolutely no recollection of what I ordered. And I can't even go back and check. Their drink menu used to be online, but no more, as explained in my previous post. In any case, it tasted of citrus and herbs and just a slight spice from either ginger or cardamom. And it completely kicked my ass. By the time our reservation was at hand, I was doing one of those walks in tottering heels where you hope that no one notices you probably just did 6 tequila shots. But I wasn't too far gone to make an UTTER fool of myself. Just tipsy enough to be sassy at a party, not the embarrassing lush in the corner with her eye makeup half down her face.

You see, I had fasted for most of that day. My tummy can't take all the rich foods it used to, so in preparation I had taken two Prilosec, eaten lots of fruit, swilled gallons of water, and had only eaten a ginger digestive with some tea before heading off for our 10:45pm reservation. That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it. At 10:35 that evening, I was drunk, hungry, feeling blissfully happy, and walking with a strut, playing at being wealthy as the hostess escorted both of us across the lobby to our reservation. I felt like a million bucks, and we were headed to what we knew would be the meal of our lives. Does it get any better than this? I think not.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2008


So while in London, I had probably the greatest meal of my entire frikkin' life at Petrus. A 2-Michelin-starred-Gordon Ramsay establishment right in the heart of either Mayfair, Knightsbridge, or Chelsea depending on what map book you follow. It's located within The Berkeley Hotel.

What's weird is that while researching the links for this story, I learned it won't be a "Gordon Ramsay Holding" for long (which I bet is why our old "eff-bomb" master looks so worried. Notice whose face is on the website? Not Marcus Wareing from the looks of it, too many crags! No, it's GORDON, and the website says that Petrus will be closing September 9, moving to a new location in early 2009.

What the Petrus website doesn't tell you is that Gordon's spectacular young protege was just named as London's "Top Chef" and his restaurant, "The Best in London." No longer Petrus, it will now be renamed Marcus Wareing at the Berkeley. Evidently, Gordon and Marcus have come to a not-so-nice parting of the ways, and Marcus has ended up on top. Too many TV shows Gordon? Click here for the story.

So basically, I am not alone in thinking that our dinner at Petrus was incredible. It was. And I knew it would be from the beginning. Not only did I have to make reservations a month in advance, but the only one available was for 10:45pm on a Monday night. "I'll take it!" I exclaimed, I know, way too enthusiastically in my boorish American way. As foodies, my husband and I were just so thrilled to have the experience of a 2-Michelin star place - and the thought we might run into Gordon, our favorite angry celebrity chef, was just icing on the cake.

Now I feel like I didn't give Marcus nearly the credit he deserved while we ate there. Yes, we had reserved because of the stars and Gordon's name, but secretly all along, it was Marcus behind the scenes giving us the meal of our lives. Good going dude. You deserve every accolade, and I'm sorry for the oversight. Gordon who?

I wonder what happens with Jean-Phillipe though? Oddly enough, he was *working* and working hard, late on a Monday night, the night we dined (more on that tomorrow). I hope Gordon is at least giving him a great compensation package, although I bet ol' JP won't be leaving Gordon's grasp just yet...

(Stay tuned to tomorrow's episode for a course-by-course rundown of the place. I swoon just to think of it.....)

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where i've escaped...

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