Posts Tagged ‘market table’

National Portrait Gallery, Trafalgar Square and Dinner Drama

Today, I went to the National Portrait Gallery with Evan. We didn’t have time to see the whole thing — we got about halfway through, and the Vanity Fair exhibit was sold out — so we’ll have to go back again. Good thing the museum is free.

Though it rained earlier today, the afternoon turned out to be quite nice, and we got a few good photos in Trafalgar Square, in front of the National Gallery and the large fountain there.

Trafalgar Square, National Gallery, London

After our time in the museum, we were ready for a snack and stopped at a nearby French cafe (I don’t remember the name and couldn’t find it when I searched online). I ordered a cappuccino, tap water and a Spanish omelet. Evan ordered sparking water and a panini. It took about 15 minutes to get my coffee, and more than 30 minutes later, we were still waiting for our food. And getting grumpy.

Nobody had come by to ask how we were, even though we were sitting right in front of the counter, and we finally asked them to check on our order. They found the order slip right behind the counter and asked us if we still wanted our food. Nobody had started on anything and they didn’t seem keen to. They weren’t apologetic about it at all, either. I also never even got my water. Serves us right for stopping near Leicester Square.

We were ready to get out of there, so we paid for our drinks and headed to Cookbook Cafe to get a good diner.

Thankfully, Cookbook Cafe yet again proved a good choice. We had salads and starters from the market table, a creamy onion soup, mushroom risotto and a nice selection of desserts from their pastry workshop table. We also had some delicious fizzy berry, elderflower and prosecco cocktails, with lots of muddled berries at the bottom of the glass.

Lunch at Cookbook Cafe

Cookbook CafeToday I wandered down the street looking for a nice lunch at a cute little cafe I’d walked by a few times before — Cookbook Cafe. Once I realized it was in the Intercontinental, though, I got a bit worried that it would be too pricey or too stuffy or that I would just feel like a bit of a fool. I couldn’t have been more wrong.

Walking through the clean and elegant lobby, bar area and cafe area, with its leather seats, shiny tables and small, square pieces of artwork, I stopped to check out the lobby menus. Not bad, but not a huge selection. I figured if the restaurant wasn’t going to work out, I could settle for a sandwich or some sort of snack out there. There prices were more than what I’d normally spend on lunch — 10 to 20 pounds — but it was a nice, soothing environment where I could at least pull my laptop out and get some work done while sitting in a comfortable spot.

When I got to the restaurant, I asked about the menu. It turns out that it’s just as affordable, if not more so than the lobby. And the market table was calling my name. I haven’t encountered too many market tables in restaurants before, but they seem to be the higher-class cousin of the salad bar. No sneeze guard. No regularly shaped and spaced slots. Just an abundance of fresh breads, salads, cheeses and more, laid out on a nice, big, wooden table. For 12 pounds, my meal also included some delicious pumpkin parmesan soup and dessert.

Market Table, Cookbook CafeThe service was also very friendly. My waiter was a very friendly hotel/hospitality management student from China who has been in London for two years now. The restaurant wasn’t very full, and it had a quiet, soothing atmosphere, with lots of clean lines and soft music. It would be a great place for a business meeting, and unsurprisingly, the rest of their clientele was in suits.

And now that I found the Cafe’s website, I have found out they have a “Chocolate Master Class.” Their description: “You will be starting with a glass of bubbles, Keith will demonstrate some tips and tricks, you will be tasting various chocolates and then you can make your own box of your signature truffles. To finish the sweetness off, our mixologist and bar manager Joel will teach you how to make the most seductive Chocolate Swirl Martini.” OK, I’m sold. Next class is on February 6 if anyone wants to join me.