I was off to a Prom on Monday night, and tried to persuade my companions to eat in Daquise, the Polish restaurant at 22, Thurloe Street,London SW7, but to no avail. It wasn't the memory of the Barsczc with Ushka, the Pierogi, the Golabki or the potato pancakes that drew me back, but my memories of Daquise nearly forty years ago, when an atmosphere à la John le Carré reigned in the place. I remember old men with improbable moustaches muttering furtively in Polish and looking around suspiciously as they planned to take back Poland from the reds, weather permitting. It was very... whatever 'echt' is in Polish.
Alas, my will did not prevail and we went off to Dino's at 1-3, Pelham Street, a reliable Italian restaurant (café, really) that I have also patronized for nearly four decades. The point of the story is that the food was wonderful. Cheap and wonderful. We didn't have a lot of time, so I ate escalope of veal Milanese with chips and salad washed down by a much more than passable Chianti. Post-concert I returned and had the piatto toscano (antipasti) that I hadn't had time to have before the Prom, plus more Chianti, obviously. All the food was excellent, the side salad having been particularly nicely and carefully prepared, and served at room temperature. The piatto toscano was served appealingly on a small wooden board and was intelligently put together: good meats, olives, artichoke hearts and mushrooms. The other post-show diehard had no complaints about the pannacotta, either. This is cheap, friendly and excellent. I wish that I lived next door.
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