It was John’s turn to choose venue this time.
It occurred to me as Janie and I were driving back to London from Southport, on the Monday, that I hadn’t yet heard from John about our arrangements for the next day. But by the time we got home and I got round to checking my e-mails, John had written:
I have gone traditional and local – The Bleeding Heart. I don’t know if you have eaten there before but it has become one of my favourites since moving to the area. We can have a drink in the Mitre beforehand also one of my favourite pubs in the locality; a real proper boozer although I don’t think you could call it a local unless you include all the local people who work here but reside elsewhere.
Anyway it’s booked for 7. Why don’t you pop round to my new gaff when you are ready. I can give you a quick tour of the offices now they are fully furnished and occupied, then head for a pint before determining whether to gamble on the wicket gate being open to Bleeding Heart Yard.
John had obviously forgotten that I used to work for Binder Hamlyn in St Bride Street and that The Bleeding Heart had been the staff canteen (for special occasions) back then…and indeed the Mitre was one of our regular haunts too in the Binders days.
In fact, I had returned to The Bleeding Heart fairly recently, with Micky, but it is certainly a place where I am very happy to dine again.
So we implemented John’s plan to the full – I managed to get to the BACTA offices in Ely Place around 18:15. The guided tour of the offices didn’t take long.
Then we retired to one of the little snug bars at Ye Olde Mitre, finding a good corner table for ye olde gits to swap stories over a drink. John was very pleased to learn of our meeting with Frank Dillon in Southport. I showed John the pictures (the write up was not yet writ). We also discussed the election and plenty else besides, before moving on through the wicket gate to Bleeding Heart Yard.
We were in the main Bleeding Heart restaurant that evening. John started with a raviolo of ricotta cheese, herbs, pine nuts and stuff, I started with a smoked salmon and Dorset crab thingie. I then went on to try the calves liver, while John opted for the roast fillet of Scottish beef with slow braised cheeks. As oft we do, we swapped samples of each other’s dishes before tucking in. All the dishes were predictably excellent, as was the service.
We both enjoyed a dry-but-fruity German Riesling with our starters, with John moving on to a Malbec and me moving on to a Barbera D’Alba with the main.
John went for the cheese afterwards, while I chose a strawberry parfait served with the recommended Tokay.
It was a super evening, albeit an indulgent one. I would have slept very well on the back of all that indulgence, indeed I did so until the sounds of sirens and helicopters (attending to the Grenfell Tower Block tragedy) woke me up in the early hours of Wednesday, making reality and disparity bite.