Well. Well well well. My weekend once again ended up very different from planned.
It was recently my birthday, and although I had a sneaking suspicion that H1 might do something special over the weekend for it, I didn't want to assume anything, or write anything on here, in case I was wrong. How embarrassing that would be. For me and H1.
He spoilt me on the day itself, with a relaxed* breakfast, and a delicious dinner, and bubbly and tea and Magnolia Bakery cupcakes**, so I was prepared for all the fuss and attention to be over by the weekend. I mean, I didn't want that, and would probably have given myself a decent amount of fuss and attention to make up for it, but I could have handled it.
I am, once again, very pleased that all my (admittedly vague) plans went awry. What I did was so much better - and once again, pretty much revolved around eating. Amongst other activities, we went to a fancy restaurant with four excellent friends, to relax and dine in splendour, and annoy our waiter***.
The restaurant, Saxon and Parole, is one I've been wanting to try for aaaaages. About a year, in fact, ever since it opened. When I say fancy, I don't mean fancy fancy - not like Per Se level****, for example - but fancier than everyday. There's no dress code or anything, but you feel quite comfortable and appropriate in a dressier outfit, just like you do in its sister restaurant, Public (another of my favourites in this city full of favourites). It's been highly rated by all sorts of publications, including New York magazine, and by people I know personally, and I have met the head chef and he is lovely and was trained under a New Zealander in London, so he knows and loves all the same places as me. And the prices are not outrageous, and the waiter was very polite even when we were at our most annoying*****, and the food is SPECTACULAR.
I've been considering all day whether it's the best meal I've had all year, and I think it's definitely way up there. It could well be, but I just can't say because I've eaten so many extraordinarily good meals this year, and I know there are many more that I've forgotten about. I had the hanger steak, which is a really odd choice for me, but it was genuinely incredible. The reason I don't usually go for the steak is because I'm not really a hunk of meat type of person - I prefer my food to be a bit creative and imaginative - but this was amazing and beautiful, with butter served in a bit of bone and insanely sweet slow-roasted tomatoes sitting on the side. Far from just a hunk of meat. I wish I had taken a couple of pictures. I had my camera with me, and everything. But I was having far too good a time to even think about capturing it on film (you know what I mean by film).
H1 had the chicken, which was also ridiculously good, and he and I shared a plate of brussel sprouts - again, a supremely odd choice for both of us, but the brussel sprouts are one of the things Saxon and Parole is known for. They're chili-caramelised, and they didn't disappoint. In fact, there may have been a small squabble over the last few.
Finally, we shared the s'mores for dessert. By this time I had had two or three glasses of the delicious Tablelands New Zealand Pinot Noir we were enjoying with dinner, plus a glass of bubbly, plus the undivided attention and love of five of my favourite people. I was...excited, especially when I tasted the s'mores, and they tasted like whiskey smoked marshmallows with my mother's self-saucing chocolate pudding. They only advertised the first part of that description, but they could promote it on both. I'm sure the good people of New York both know and love my mother's self-saucing chocolate pudding.
In short, a truly excellent night, and another restaurant to add to the list of places I must go back to - a rapidly growing list that sits next to the list of places I must try. This is what will keep me in this city. The food******.
*As much as we ever relax, anyway.
***Not actually an aim, but quite inevitable by the third bottle of wine.
****Per Se is actually on the fancy fancy fancy fancy level, FYI.
*****About five minutes before they turfed us out of our seats because they needed the table. This was done in a very nice way, with gentle ushering back to the bar and free drinks, so I'm only mildly resentful.
******And sure, the friends, but I've already accidentally left friends all over the world. Can I really do the same with the food?