Today I took my first me-time outing in London doing something that would have been par for the course for pre-baby moi. Today though, it was like a trip to the moon and back.
The Husband has had a few days out including a couple of trips to the pub and a day at the soccer with his cousin. It’s easy for him to have a day out because I’m used to being at home with baby B. It’s not so easy for me.
Lucky for us B takes a bottle and will also drink from a sippy cup so I am able to pump milk for him but at the same time I’m still producing milk so if I’m away from him for an extended period it needs to go somewhere. I use an electric pump and don’t have a portable manual one so careful timing is necessary.
Today the stars aligned and I was able to make my way to Mayfair for a relaxing solo lunch at the 2 Michelin starred Hélène Darroze at the Connaught. I have only dined at a restaurant with a star once a couple of years ago in Champagne. That restaurant had 1 star and was amazing so I knew I was in for a treat.
I arrived just as the restaurant was opening and was shown to a table very comfortably set for one in a discreet corner with a view of the windows and across the room. The hostess offered me a selection of newspapers (as I was dining alone) and the sommelier arrived soon after to offer me an aperitif. I went with a glass of a 2005 vintage Bollinger that was everything a glass of champagne should be – and everything I’ve missed about enjoying champagne since getting pregnant.
Next the waiter came over and talked me through the menu. Hélène Darroze has an adorable menu system involving marbles and a little checkers style board. I could have gone for the lunch formula but I couldn’t resist the a la carte menu and had fun picking my marbles to order my lunch. I went with Foie Gras, Veal and Chocolate.
When you go to a starred restaurant a 3 course meal is never really 3 courses. My lunch started with an amuse bouche of focaccia and ham, a cheese croquette and an apple and fennel infusion. The focaccia was the lightest I’ve ever had and the apple infusion rounded out the flavor after the cheese croquette beautifully.
Next out came the bread with both an unsalted butter and a spiced butter which were equally delicious. Apparently the bread was made with a special flour from France but it was beautifully crusty on the outside and soft and light on the inside.
The first course was the the foie gras. Now I know this is controversial but I do eat meat and wear leather and enjoy foie gras. I’m not ignorant of how its produced but I still eat it on occasion. When I say on occasion I mean maybe once or twice a year. In this case I was well rewarded. This was the dish of the day for me. The accompanying apple and hazlenut was just perfect and the Foie Gras was the creamiest I’ve ever had with the perfect amount of richness. I could have been perfectly happy and blissed out with just my Champagne and this dish.
Next up was my main course of Veal. This dish was at once light but extremely comforting and full of flavour. It was served with parmigiana-reggiano, capers and wild leek and had all kinds of lovely textures with a bit of crunch and a lovely velvety jus.
The dessert was a chocolate sphere with yuzu, cashews and a hot chocolate sauce. This was different to other chocolate dishes I’ve had in that it was the bitter flavour of the beautiful chocolate from the domenican republic that sang rather than being overpowered by sugary sweetness.
I mulled over whether or not to round out my meal with a tea. I mean seriously £8 for tea? But I’m glad I did because £8 for tea actually got me these lovely petit fours and a chocolate truffle as well as a beautiful white tea brewed to perfection.
I finished off with a little palette cleanser of lemon sorbet and was farewelled with a small cake in a take home box that I’m generously going to spilt with the Husband tonight.
The thing about Michelin stars is that it’s not just about the food (although it could be and it’d still be that good) it’s also about the experience. The staff were just so lovely I found myself feeling relaxed as though I were dining among friends even though I was there alone. In particular the sommelier, who was french, and my waiter who was from Palermo were really lovely. I had mentioned to them and I was a new mum having a baby-free outing and I just felt like they really made an effort to make my experience a smooth one.
Dining in restaurants like this one have the potential to be quite intimidating but my experience was the perfect balance of relaxed lunch while taking me to another level of luxury which is just what I needed after spending the last 8 months in my pyjamas eating frozen dinners and pre made salads.
I’m sure Hélène Darroze who is also a mother will appreciate how special it is for a mum with a little baby to be able to get away and enjoy a dining experience like this one. It was uplifting and certainly very inspiring to see a fabulous female chef at the top of her game.
After my meal I indulged further by crossing the street and trying on a few gorgeous pieces at Roland Mouret. My two favorites were this one and this one. Unfortunately they are both somewhat out of my maternity leave budget (and let’s face it, my ordinary one too) but oh so fun to try on. Besides now I know my size maybe I can splurge on a sale item for my birthday…I’ll think about it anyway.
I was silly enough not to take any pictures of myself in the perdy dresses but here’s a terrible shot I snapped when the sales assistant was getting my fitting room ready.
One treat I am seriously considering are these gorgeous Sunglasses but given I’d have to wear them with contacts I’m going to have to think about it.
All in all I had a magical afternoon that made me feel like I was really on holiday. One of the best parts though was coming home to Baby B’s smiling face and outstretched arms, getting into my Pjs and climbing into bed with him for some boob and a nap.