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Successfully avoiding the Royal Wedding

As anyone who has access to TV, a newspaper or an internet connection will know, there was a Royal Wedding on at the weekend. It’s not something I’m particularly bothered about – I wish them well, but it’s no business of mine. However, their “Big Day”clashed not only with the FA Cup Final, but with an important family occasion.  Last weekend was the closest weekend to my father’s 80th birthday, and my sister had booked the immediate family a table for lunch at Brasserie Blanc on the South Bank to celebrate.

The trains down to London on the Friday afternoon were packed, and there was even a “Town Crier” in full regalia on the platform at Paddington station, presumably seeing people onto the train to Windsor. The tube was really crowded too, with lots of people wearing royal wedding commemorative T-shirts. On the Saturday, the train into central London was full of people watching The Wedding on their smart phones. I wasn’t one of those people – quite apart from my almost complete lack of interest, I have a very stingy data plan on my mobile, and I certainly wasn’t going to risk going over the data cap and paying extra to watch it!

Fortunately, so many people were otherwise engaged watching The Wedding, the South Bank was very quiet, and the restaurant was only about half full, which made for a very pleasant lunch without over-stretched waiters. In fact, I was pleasantly surprised by Brasserie Blanc – yes, it’s a chain making use of the name of a top chef, but (unlike for example Marco Pierre White) you got the strong feeling that standards hadn’t been allowed to slip.

I can’t eat a huge amount at lunchtime, so I went for the Prix Fixe menu which was excellent value and really tasty. I had asparagus, hollandaise and a poached egg as a starter, followed by confit pork leg with really smooth mashed potato and spring greens. The others chose off the à la carte menu, and a direct comparison showed that their portions were distinctly larger than mine – but I could barely finish mine anyway, so that was just fine by me.

The others all seemed to enjoy their meals too. The cheese soufflé starter (which my mother and sister both chose) was pronounced to be the best either of them had ever had, and the roast suckling pig, lamb tagine, roast chicken and steak all went down extremely well. Not all on one plate though, I hasten to add! That would have been excessively greedy! All of the food was well cooked and well presented, and was served by attentive (and clearly very well trained) staff.

I didn’t have room for dessert but the others did, and absolutely polished them off, so they were clearly really tasty too. I made do with a strong black coffee – I’m really not used to eating so much at lunch time! Or drinking that much either – I must have put away nearly half a bottle.

We don’t make a big fuss of birthdays in my family, and really only celebrate significant decades. But this was one such occasion, and it was very enjoyable. And it gave us a cast-iron excuse to avoid watching The Wedding!