Two weeks ago, we celebrated Jase's 35th birthday. I suggested a trip out to a restaurant to celebrate as poor Jase has been pretty down about the job situation. It's been really hard for him being out of work for over half of this year. Thank goodness my job situation has given us some stability.
He decided to book a table at Benares (he didn't tell me this though), the Indian restaurant run by Atul Kochher. We were impressed by his dishes on the Great British Menu and had talked about going someday. However, I hadn't thought that it would be any time soon as his restaurant is in Mayfair and I haven't even tried venturing into central London with Lauren yet.
I'm not sure why this is, except that perhaps I dreaded the thought of being jostled by hundreds of hostile commuters on the Underground whilst trying to manage a pushchair on my own. Very few of the Tube stations in London have lifts and although some do have escalators, there are many with multiple flights of stairs. Definitely not pushchair or child friendly. So Lauren has never been on the Tube, although we have been on the bus together.
However, on our recent holiday to Barcelona, we went on their excellent Underground system with Lauren without too many hitches. Having said that though, their Underground is much more modern and user friendly! I suppose this gave me more confidence to venture into central London.
Jase booked a lunchtime table as he felt it would be easier for the two of us to manage Jocelyn on a day when Lauren was at nursery. Although it meant Lauren missed out on the meal, I doubt she would have enjoyed it; it would have been too boring for her to sit still for that length of time!
On the day, we dressed up Jocey for her first Michelin Starred restaurant.
I thought she looked gorgeous! This picture also shows how big she's grown. Lauren first wore this outfit when she was 4 months old (Christmas 2005) and it was big on her at that stage. Jocey was 6 weeks old on Daddy's birthday.
We actually got to Mayfair without too much trouble (being lunchtime), passing Claridges on the way. For a moment, I thought we were actually going to eat there! Benares wasn't muich further away; it was tucked between a Rolls Royce and a Bentley garage on Berkeley Square.
This is us at the restaurant.
We had an absolutely fabulous time. The staff were friendly and attentive, and we were well looked after. We were surprised and pleased to see Atul in the restaurant, supervising service.
The food was excellent. I had a soft shelled crab strter and Jase had the mixed kebab, both of which were excellent. Following this, I had venison and Jase had king prawns. The dishes were a fantastic mixture of complex yet subtle flavours. We both enjoyed the food immensely.
We agonised over the dessert menu...
When the desserts finally came, they were as beautiful as the rest of the meal had been. The staff even added an additional birthday flourish when they found out it was Jase's birthday.
It was a wonderful and memorable meal, which really lifted our spirits. Happy birthday to Daddy! That evening we had a little family celebration at home with Lauren. She wanted to wish Daddy a happy birthday in her own way.
A perfect end to a perfect day!