Wednesday, March 11, 2015
Dinner at The Fountain Restaurant, Fortnum & Mason, Piccadilly
Sometimes, I joke that Fortnum & Mason is my spiritual home.
With spring just rounding the bend in London, the store is becoming a little overpopulated, but once I've pushed through the swarms of tourists and made my way up to the top, I like to look down and simply exist in this beautiful place of flowers, chandeliers, regal biscuit tins, and crystal glasses.
As I commented over on Instagram, I'm not exactly sure who actually buys marizpan apples, but ... they're beautiful.
The Fountain Restaurant at F&M is very special to me: it was here that we met John's dear Uncle Chris (whom I loved) for afternoon tea several years ago, when he was still well enough to venture out of his Pimlico apartment, before he passed away from cancer. And it was also the restaurant where my parents met John's mom for the first time - a brunch that I was both excited and nervous about! (Spoiler alert: it was wonderful.)
Chris introduced me to F&M, shortly after I moved down to London from York. He knew I'd love it (he knew me well). And when I walked down the stairs to The Fountain last night, I paused at the entrance briefly and thought of him - and I missed him.
It didn't seem like so long ago when we were occupying the very seats above, pouring Earl Grey into porcelain cups and straining our tea leaves. I remember craning my head around to take a good, long look at the teapots that lined the wall.
I remember thinking it was the most beautiful dining room I'd ever sat in - aside from The Goring Hotel, where Chris also took me to once, for lunch.
When Zomato invited me to dinner at The Fountain last night, I didn't hesitate with my answer. I couldn't wait to revisit one of my favorite restaurants in London.
To me, it's a privilege to dine at The Fountain; you always feel as though you're somewhere really special. As though you're someone really special. And I think it's hard to find a restaurant in London that still has that sort of magic - a little bit of mystery coupled with an air of grandeur.
It's always the little details that I appreciate at The Fountain, often with a colonial touch.
Their signature color is a teal-blue - not quite Tiffany blue but not quite green. It's a lovely color that's repeated throughout the store and restaurants.
And, you know me. My food orders often verge on quirky. It delights me to see breakfast being offered on the menu for dinner. I almost ordered the Highland Scramble. Almost.
But then I remembered that I hadn't had smoked salmon in ages, so I ordered the hot smoked salmon salad instead, and the kedgeree for my main course. I've been craving kedgeree for so long! (I'm fully aware that I can make it myself ... but, still.)
And John's glass of Shiraz was so delicious ... I decided to treat myself to a glass of my own (even if it meant that I could only finish 1/4 of it). Also - that bread basket? It's a mini version of the F&M hamper, with F&M stamped in their signature black letters on the lid. Adore.
The salad was divine and the kedgeree was as comforting and nourishing as I remembered it to be. Sometimes, I have a difficult time ordering what I want rather than what I think I'd ought to have. Do you struggle with that too? Last night, I saw the menu and thought, 'I should have the lamb cannon.' But what I really wanted was the kedgeree, even though that's a slightly offbeat selection for dinner at a restaurant like F&M. Then again, you know what? It's on the menu for a reason.
And that's what I really love about The Fountain: that you can be yourself there and no one will judge you. It's a place where you really feel at home. Where you feel honest. I noticed several diners eating alone last evening, which seems like such a great idea. Why not treat yourself to a nice dinner? F&M is the perfect place to do so. Service is attentive, but not intrusive, and always, always welcoming. I've visited on three different occasions and have always been treated like a guest - I can count on one hand how many restaurants make me feel like that in London (and yeah, it's less than 5).
But enough of my rant ... I woke up this morning craving the apple strudel with cinnamon custard we had for dessert last night. How's that for good memories?
It looked so tasty that, when the plate was placed on the table, the couple next to us exclaimed, "Ooooh! Strudel!" Any dessert that illicits that kind of reaction is a guaranteed win.
The Fountain - a magical place that will always remind me of happy times, meaningful first meetings, and special occasions. Even if that occasion is just an ordinary Tuesday night in a busy, bustling city.
We were generously hosted by ZomatoUK and The Fountain Restaurant at Fortnum & Mason - thank you! John and I have loved the restaurant for years - we're sure that you would too.