Tuesday, 24 November 2015
A couple of weeks ago I went to an event held to publicise the launch of a range of new flavours of Kettle Chips. Ordinarily, I would not be that interested in a new flavour of Kettle Chips, and I suspect Kettle Chips know this as well because to ensure a very healthy attendance from London's gathered foodie people they paid Simon Rogan to cook us a three course dinner. So we started with Wensleydale cheese dumplings with butternut squash (a light, herby dish that brought to mind a Westcombe Cheddar course from a life-changing meal at l'Enclume a few years back), then had Gressingham Duck breast and leg with creamed kale and Wiltshire truffle (all kinds of wonderful, nuanced and rich with the flavours of late autumn) and finally Maldon salted chocolate and jasmine with sorrel (soft/crisp textures and chocolate/citrus balanced to world-class effect). It was, in short, a masterclass by what I'm going to go ahead and call the UK's best chef, whether he likes it or not. Oh, and the chips weren't bad either (my fav was the Wensleydale cheese).
But adding to the thrill of the food itself was the knowledge that so much of what made it good was home grown. Rogan may have been trained in classical French techniques under the likes of Marco Pierre White but his style is so unmistakeably Britain 2015, and the ingredients he uses so specific to these islands that he just couldn't be working anywhere else. After a recent fairly uninspiring trip to Paris, coupled with a weekend in Cornwall where everything we ate was in some way exciting, new or interesting, I had pretty much decided that the UK was in fact now the best place to eat in the world. France? Pah.
And yet, here comes Les 110 des Taillevent to remind us all that, actually, there's no such thing as bad cuisine, just bad restaurants, and though it may not be very trendy to admit it these days, French food can still be thrilling when they pull out all the stops.
There's a history of famous foreign brands or high profile restaurants coming to London, expecting to be treated like the Second Coming then having their sorry arses handed to them. Keith McNally's Balthazar is the most obvious recent example, a temple of New York restaurant culture recreated painstakingly in Covent Garden to almost every last detail, except somehow also serving hopeless sub-Cafe Rouge food. It's inexplicably popular but don't let that fool you. There's also Five Guys, which I've enjoyed when I've visited in the US but over here has morphed into something sloppy and tasteless, but also oddly expensive. It's also wildly popular, because people are idiots.
Anyway hopes weren't high for Les 100 de Taillevent, who have a flagship 2 Michelin star restaurant in Paris (where a dish of Lièvre de la Beauce - hare pie - costs €138) and have chosen a grand room on Cavendish Square to open their first UK venture. And a quick glance at the menu on the way in did little to reassure - a £29 lobster salad starter, £21 for saddle of lamb, and a very confusing arrangement of wines by the glass in odd 70ml measures, it all pointed towards another flashy, expensive failure; arrogant French, coming over here, thinking they know how to run a restaurant! The nerve.
And yet, from the moment we were sat down and the lovely smiley service appeared, it all seemed to click into place. The wine list is big, and initially rather confusing, but is actually a rather neat way of tasting some pretty big wines for not much money. For example, I don't know how many people could afford a full bottle of Louis Roederer Rosé 2010, but how about £15.50 for a 70ml shot? Each of the 110 wines are matched with a particular course, in four price categories; none of them are exactly cheap, but it's at least honest and it's quite good fun choosing your own matches.
But that's the wine. What about the food? Poached duck egg with lardons, champignons de Paris and baby onions was a warm, hearty dish of bold flavours and soft textures, like a walk through a forest after a rainstorm. Nothing foraged, no cubes of aerated watercress or pickled Alexander, just mushrooms, onions, bacon and a poached duck egg, seasoned to perfection. I loved it.
Similarly langoustine ravioli with basil and citrus butter, a very cleverly balanced dish, which spoke of real skill in the kitchen. The silky, just-so pasta, the smooth butter sauce with a gentle tang of lemon, the meaty seafood filling, this was precise, confident cooking, hardly groundbreaking but still deeply enjoyable, and the kind of thing you rarely see in London. At least, not if you're the kind of person who just leaps from one Foraged Modern British opening to the next, confident you're not missing out on anything interesting in some stuffy French temple of fine dining. Ahem.
Pâté en Croûte was a beauty, pink chunks of tenderly layered meat (pork definitely but I think also perhaps pigeon breast?) studded with pistachio nuts and topped by a glorious ribbon of meaty aspic. You would not want for a better pâté en croûte, and if you're wondering why you don't see many of them in London, Google a recipe. Only the French could come up with a method so ludicrously time consuming and difficult. So thank you L110dT for making the effort.
When was the last time you ate a vol-au-vent? Personally I think it may have been at a family gathering at my grandmother's house in Liverpool in the 1980s, frozen pastry casings filled with a mixture that tasted like Heinz mushroom soup. Which of course meant they tasted great, albeit slightly unsophisticated. Here, L110deT have given them the full fine dining treatment, with luxurious strips of lamb sweetbread and meaty crayfish, in one of those complex meaty sauces that the French do so well.
Another main course of saddle of lamb was literally just that (alongside a roasted garlic clove and a twig of raw rosemary) and so needed the suggested side of ultra-French Robuchon-style buttered mash. But it was cooked well and had a good flavour and still disappeared without complaints.
I'll forgive a couple of service issues (staff were very reluctant to bring tap water for some reason, and forgot one of the sides) because it's early days, and because so much of everything else was so good. The room, too, is worth a mention - grand but not intimidating, and with soft furnishings and seating so plush and comfortable you want to stay overnight. It's for the most part already a mature and self-assured operation from top to bottom, a fantastic place for a celebration or special occasion. Oh, and though we didn't have room for them, I've heard on the grapevine the desserts are wonderful; all the more reason to go back.
So thank you Les 110 de Taillevent, not just for the effort you've clearly put into the food and the room but for being such a great cultural ambassador for French cuisine, at a time when it threatens to be dismissed (and I've been as guilty of this as anyone in the past) as irrelevant, expensive and dull. L110dT may stretch the wallet a bit (the bill was about £50 a head), but it's great fun and there are desperately few other places in London doing this kind of thing to this standard. It turns out the French can run a restaurant after all. Who knew?
Wednesday, 18 November 2015
Have you ever wondered why there are so many great places to eat in Cornwall? Perhaps you haven't, if you don't obsess over these things to quite the same worrying degree I do. But take it from me, there are loads, from crab huts and oyster bars to multi-Michelin-star fine dining, to any number of exciting, seasonal gastropubs in between, this is a part of the world that geuinely hosts a mature restaurant scene as opposed to the "couple of ludicrously expensive fine dining restaurants and nothing else" that seems to pass as a restaurant culture in most other parts of the country.
So again, why Cornwall? The most obvious answer is that's where the ingredients are, and it's certainly the case that the area can boast a staggering range of producers and masses of fantastic seafood. But then so do many parts of the south, north west and east coasts and the most you'll find there is a fish & chip shop and a Pizza Express. Clearly something special happened in Cornwall. But what?
Skip back to 1975, and after the police are called one too many times to his Great Western Nightclub (those fishermen can get a bit fighty with a few pints in them) a young Rick Stein and his wife Jill have been told in no uncertain terms that they need to find another way of making money on the site. Reluctantly, and with no professional culinary background, the Steins open the Seafood Restaurant, cooking - it hardly seems possible now - frozen prawns and monkfish (labelled simply "white fish" on the menu; in 1974 nobody knew what a monkfish was) to some vaguely-remembered recipes of his mother's. It was a restaurant born of necessity, in a fishing village where tons of fresh crab, lobster, oysters and sardines were landed every day yards from their front door, packed onto refrigerated lorries and sent to Spain and France where people were willing to pay for them.
At some point, the penny dropped. Why on earth were they selling frozen fish at great expense in a fishing village where the stuff is being hauled in from the sea fresh every day? So they got talking to fisherman, who sold them some of their catch to sell in the restaurant. And, quite understandably, given the choice between fresh fish or something chipped out of the freezer for a few quid less, customers chose the former. Cutting a very long story very short, the Steins had created their own nascent market for local seafood, and the seeds of a Cornish food revolution were born.
And so, in 2015 we end up with somewhere as lovely as St Petroc's bistro (bought by the Steins in 1988 but a very different beast now to how it was then), where people do lovely things to lovely ingredients in a bright, friendly old townhouse up a quaint old street, in a way that couldn't exist anywhere but Cornwall. The menu is the platonic ideal of what a great local bistro should be; namely, local ingredients wherever possible, nothing too fussy or overworked but still making intelligent use of modern techniques where appropriate (they have a Big Green Egg and aren't afraid to use it).
This isn't a normal review so I won't go into the usual exhausting detail on all the dishes, but it's worth pointing out a few highlights. Firstly, two vegetable dishes caught the eye - a plate of very odd-looking "padron" peppers, and something else called "flower sprouts". Both are from a local producer called Ross Geach who is the man in charge (well, along with his dad) of Padstow Kitchen Gardens just out of town. At this point we knew very little about Ross and his farm; but we did know that the padrons served at St Petroc, some weird little gnarly things the size of a 10p piece, some much bigger and looking more like a green bell pepper, had far more flavour and certainly far more chilli burn, than anything in a pack from Brindisa.
Secondly, the flower sprouts. Again, by this point we didn't know where they came from, but were told only they were a bio-engineered cross between kale and Brussels sprouts. The frills of the miniature "kale" leaves soaked up all the lovely butter they were cooked in, whilst the "sprout" element adds those earthy, brassica notes. And on top of all that, they look really pretty, like miniature heads of kale.
The rest of the menu was no less newsworthy. Local Cornish charcuterie could genuinely hold its own next to anything from France or Italy; I don't know why I should still be surprised when British charcuterie turns out to be brilliant - we're very good at this kind of thing now - but even so these were very impressive. Sardines wrapped in vine leaves were the star of the proper starters, cooked tenderly in the Big Green Egg and full of meaty, oily flavour. And the onglet steak, gently smoky from the charcoal and beautifully rare, was further proof that Hereford may be Britain's finest eating cattle.
The point is, it was all good, and not just because there were chefs in the kitchen that knew how to cook (though there were) and front of house staff who know how to serve (though that was also the case). It was good because this was a Cornish restaurant, confident in its ability to showcase the best local produce without it feeling forced or gimmicky, comfortable in its setting and place in the grand scheme of things, and able to do all this without feeling like a London-cool or Parisian-style bistro transplanted to the West Country. St Petroc's Bistro couldn't exist anywhere but here, and is a perfect gleaming example of why Cornwall, and Padstow in particular, is a world-class food destination.
With all that in mind, there are two events coming up in the next few weeks - both sponsored by GWR which not uncoicidentally is your best way of getting to the West Country in the first place - that will shine an even brighter light on this extraordinary part of the world. The first, on Saturday 28th November at Watergate bay, is the Fifteen Cornwall Winter Fayre. Ross Geach from the aforementioned Padstow Kitchen Garden (which you'll hear more about on my next post) and Fifteen Cornwall chef Jack Bristow are doing cooking demos, and there'll be all sorts of food producer stalls as well as the Southwestern Distillery on hand with samples of their gin and pastis. Yes, that's Cornish Pastis. Geddit?
Anyway, all the details are here; it's free to attend so you don't have to worry about getting tickets, just getting yourself down there for the day.
The second - and higher profile - event is the Padstow Christmas Festival, which takes over most of the center of Padstow for the period of Thursday 3rd to Sunday 6th December, and brings together almost every top chef working in Cornwall today as well as a good number from further afield. It sounds like an absolute riot - demos from Rick and Jack Stein, Angela Hartnett, Paul Ainsworth, Mark Hix, Mitch Tonks, James Knappett, Nathan Outlaw, Ashley Palmer Watts, Michael Caines and (barring divine intervention) James Martin, and an even greater number of producers and stalls spread out around the harbour. I know a lot of foodie people from London who are travelling over for it (though don't let that put you off) and I'd be there too if I'd organised myself a bit sooner. Still, there's always next year.
Meantime, next time somebody sneers about "Padstein" or celebrity chefs consider how far we've come since the dark days of frozen chips and chicken in a basket, and how wonderful it is we now get to eat most of the fantastic seafood our fishermen bring in instead of it all being shipped off to France or Spain. And for that we have to thank not just the Steins but anyone producing, consuming or appreciating the finest local, seasonal food and drink, not just in Cornwall but up and down the country. It took a long, long time to get here, and in many areas we've got a long, long way to go. But if you need inspiration, just look West.
GWR is a sponsor of both the Fifteen Cornwall Winter Fayre and Padstow Christmas Festival. Meals at St Petroc's Bistro kindly provided by Rick Stein co.
Monday, 2 November 2015
For all my whingeing about Michelin over the years, and there's certainly been lots of whingeing, I do begrudgingly admit that the Red Guide probably get it right more often than they get it wrong. Most of the starred restaurants in London and the UK thoroughly deserve the recognition, and whilst there's a list of places whose continuing lack of a star threatens to make a laughing stock of the whole business (the Dairy being right at the top of that list, I mean come on), a star is more often than not an indicator of a very decent standard of food and drink. A star means something.
But while it's often frustratingly difficult for restaurants to win a star, with some of the capital's finest restaurants ignored year after year, I also get the very strong impression stars are very difficult to lose as well. I can think of more than a handful of restaurants who probably should have been quietly dropped a few years ago, and it's these places, coasting on their reputation and relying on the fact that Michelin seem to grant a few years' "Benefit of the Doubt" grace period, that pose the greatest risk for the diner.
For all I know, the Black Rat in Winchester used to be a really good restaurant. As I say, it's not easy to win a star, and they must have done enough at one time to convince Michelin they were worthy of one. Perhaps at one time they were serving food "prepared to a consistently high standard", to use Michelin's own description of the one star category. But I'm afraid there was very little in a recent meal to suggest this is still the case, and compared directly with other Michelin-starred meals elsewhere - hell, even plenty of restaurants without a star - the Black Rat falls uncomfortably short.
You can tell a lot about care and attention to detail in a place from their house bread. At the Black Rat there are two styles; one shocking black squid ink and parmesan (I think) which was pleasant only insofar as it's not really possible to cock up parmesan bread, and one very ordinary wholewheat which tasted a bit like what happened when I once had a go at baking at home. Not inedible (since you ask, thank you very much) but not very exciting.
Beef cheek ravioli[sic] with onion squash and pumpkin seed crumble was a very odd dish. The flavour of the beef cheek was fine, a bit thin and wine-y perhaps but otherwise OK. But the strange grey pasta casing was way too thick, and it sat in a sweet, cloying squash purée that didn't work at all, either as a side or a sauce for the raviolo. And yes, despite being listed as "ravioli" on the menu, there was in fact only one bit of pasta. It's the details, guys.
Trout with salsa verde & red chicory was similarly disappointing. I don't think "soft baked" is a more appealing way of serving trout than the usual pan frying to a nice crisp skin, so I wonder why they tried to make a feature of it on the menu. And chicory is almost always too bitter to serve raw; braise it or leave it out altogether is my armchair advice.
The pigeon itself was the best bit of my main; a lovely deep-red, moist bit of bird, nicely seasoned and cooked well. And though a bit of "butter-basted" cauliflower showed no signs of having been anywhere near butter, it was nevertheless nicely charred and a decent accompaniment. But a sort of paté made with the pigeon offal (I assume) had a crust baked onto it for having been under the lamps too long, and the other ingredients - quinoa, raisins and a completely bonkers sprig of alexander leaf that just tasted of weeds (still, there's the "foraging" box ticked I suppose) - were just unpleasant distractions.
Grey mullet was pan fried to a lovely crunchy skin in the way that the trout should have been, so at least we got there in the end. And there's nothing wrong with a bit of boiled broccoli but I don't think I'm unjustified in expecting a bit more from a Michelin-starred main course. Mini cubes of duck fat potatoes were nice though.
Had things gone a lot better up until this point there's every chance we would have stayed for dessert. And who knows, perhaps desserts at the Black Rat are a triumph, worth the journey from London in their own right and the reason Michelin granted them a star at all. But I'm afraid we weren't about to take the risk so we paid up and slunk out.
Of course every bad meal is a shame; I'd have loved to have told you that the food at the Black Rat was worth the money and the journey time (£29 for a return ticket and 45 minutes from Clapham Junction) and there's no pleasure for anyone in reporting bad news. But if nothing my experience is a timely reminder that not one guide, or for that matter blog, or restaurant critic can be relied upon 100% of the time, and for all their industry clout and respect, even Michelin can get it wrong occasionally.
Thursday, 29 October 2015
The Sethi family's first restaurant in London was Trishna, in Marylebone. It's a great restaurant, Indian fine dining that isn't just about serving the same old curry house classics with while tablecloths and a wine list, but reinventing the cuisine from the ground up with superb ingredients, luxurious spicing and a staggering attention to detail. It's still one of my favourite places to eat out, and in fact I've got a big table booked for my birthday next month.
Next, along with Sandia Chang and James Knappett they opened Bubbledogs, a hot dogs and grower champagne concept that seems like a ludicrous idea before you're sat there eating great hot dogs and drinking grower champagne and then it all makes sense. It's still hugely popular. And soon after the Kitchen Table opened out back, 19 seats arranged around an open kitchen serving a seasonal tasting menu which won a Michelin star last year.
Then came Gymkhana in Mayfair, which was greeted like the second coming by London's critics and bloggers (myself included). And quite rightly too, because it's utterly brilliant. That, too, won a Michelin star. Then came Lyle's, where head chef James Lowe serves his St. John-inspired menu of modern British food, full of personality and punch and in one of London's lovelier dining rooms. And you'll know about Bao, their next project, which introduced London to the wonders of Taiwanese buns and still has them queuing down Lexington Street all day every day. Because it is also brilliant.
The latest project from the Sethis is Hoppers, and it's rubbish. Only joking, it's brilliant, just like all the others, and not just brilliant but unique and stylish and innovative and all the other hallmarks of a venture from the family with the Midas touch. The theme this time is Sri Lankan, a cuisine Londoners may have come across in certain spots in Tooting (Jaffna House is good) but is still fairly unknown to most people. Hoppers does it so well that it makes you wonder why nobody has tried to do this kind of thing to Sri Lankan food before, but then that's the genius of the Sethis, to reinvent a cuisine for modern audiences, keeping the traditional core flavours and techniques but creating something genuinely new and exciting.
Every corner of the menu is a surprise and a delight. "Cashew, cassava & ash plantain fry" is nuts and crisped vegetables dusted with a disastrously addictive powerful chilli powder, with a separate chilli sauce for dipping. The heat has you gasping but the flavour has you coming back for more.
Bonemarrow "Varuval" came with a special tool for scraping out the tender marrow from the cute little bones, in a sauce so complex and richly enjoyable it would have been a reason to visit by itself. To soak it up, a fresh roti, flaky and buttery like a savoury croissant, which of course we fought over before ordering another one (at a pathetic £1.25 each, I suggest you do the same). And a little bowl of chicken heart "chukka" had more dense, powerful spicing to compliment the gloriously tender chunks of offal.
There's nothing about "hot butter devilled shrimps" that doesn't scream "eat me", and this was another stunning dish, huge bouncy prawns wrapped in a silky sauce spiked with chilli, curry leaves and pickled green peppercorn.
And still the best was yet to come. The house signature dish is of course the hopper, a bowl-shaped dosa-type pancake thing which for an extra 50p comes with a soft-yolked egg baked into it. With this we chose the guinea fowl "kari" (Tamil for "curry"), beautifully moist and tender drumsticks in another knockout sauce that I'd walk through fire to eat again.
Better even than that though was the black pork kari, chunks of pork so tender they almost dissolve in the mouth, in a thick, sticky sauce that brought to mind the Tayyabs' "dry meat". It's hard to imagine there's a better way of spending £5.50 in London right now; this was a world class curry, almost impossibly good.
It's impossible, too, to overstate just how much of an achievement Hoppers is for everyone involved. As an introduction to Sri Lankan cuisine, it could very easily kickstart a city-wide obsession to rival the burger or BBQ craze. As the latest jewel in the crown of the Sethi empire it proves that these extraordinary people, far from running out of ideas six restaurants in are actually becoming bolder and more innovative, and have another well-deserved hit on their hands.
But more important than all that, Hoppers is just a fantastic place to sit and have your dinner. A beautiful room staffed by people whose genuine enthusiasm for their product shows with every interaction, and a menu so comprehensively enticing it makes you want to order and eat everything on it again and again and again. Nothing about my meal there could be faulted, and so all I can do is award it full marks, and urge you to go and try it yourself as soon as you possibly can. The only remaining question is, what even more wonderful thing could the Sethis possibly come up with next?
Monday, 26 October 2015
Day two of our Great Jersey Adventure hinged around lunch at Mark Jordan at the Beach, the informal bistro sister restaurant to the fancypants Ocean at the Atlantic. But before we got that far, we had an appointment with some Jersey cows (and their owners) at Manor Farm (yes, another different Manor Farm; for such a small island they have a remarkable lack of imagination when it comes to naming).
Jersey is rightly famous for its dairy produce, and Jersey cattle produce a rich, luxuriant milk, but unfortunately the island can no more escape the EU-wide milk crisis than anywhere else these days and so Julia and Darren Quenault, like so many others in this troubled industry, are gamely diversifying. The wonderful beef from my starter at Ocean the day before was theirs, so too a brie from the restaurant's cheeseboard. Cheese making is a common, and laudable, way of making more money from milk - you may remember I reported a similar story from the Cornish Blue people last year - it's not easy, and the equipment is expensive, but you can sell a handmade soft cheese for a lot more than the milk used to make it, and that's how you survive.
As well as the cheese, the Quenaults keep a remarkable variety of rare breed chickens, pigs and quail and sell most of the products of which in their farm shop, all ways of making what was once a thriving dairy industry (the number of dairy farms on Jersey has gone from over 200 to around 20 in the last few years) pay for itself. Maybe one day people will be persuaded that shelling out more than a handful of pence for a pint of milk is a perfectly reasonable state of affairs; until then, places like Manor Farm will continue to live by their wits.
On a brighter note, an industry that doesn't show any signs of struggling on Jersey is eating out. Though never the most reliable indication of quality the fact there are four Michelin stars on the island is at least a sign of maturity, and with so much incredible seafood so readily available, anywhere with views of the sea, the ability to shuck an oyster and serve a nice chilled Picpoul is off to a running start. Mark Jordan at the Beach has a lovely seafront spot and a menu that includes most of the Jersey Food Greatest Hits, including some lovely pickled anchovies that came with this tray of nibbles.
Jersey scallops, I can happily report, are some of the finest I've ever tried. It probably helps they were cooked perfectly, with a delicate golden crust and just-done inside, but the flesh was so sweet and fresh the only scallops I've ever had that have come close were some tiny Queenies from Nantucket many years ago. They were served on a bed of earthy stewed oxtail and dressed with pea shoots and purée, and surrounded by one of those thick reduced sauces that makes you want to scoop up every last sticky, marmitey drop.
Lobster (local Jersey lobster obviously) and prawn cocktail had huge generous chunks of fresh seafood in it, and the usual thick Marie Rose sauce had been replaced here with an "espuma", kind of a light frothy mousse. It worked very well, a comfort food classic lifted by just the right amount of cheffy trickery.
My only mistake of the meal, of the whole weekend really (when it came to food at least) was ordering the burger. Part of me knew it wasn't going to be my kind of thing, and so when it did arrive with its stupid big Jenga chips, fried egg and cakey brioche bun, my heart sank. It wasn't awful, just not really any different than any other bistro burger, despite quite nice beef and the addition of a lump of foie gras. This is a restaurant, and a part of the world, that specialises in seafood; the burger is on the menu because it has to be. I should have known better.
As if to prove my point, plaice with caper, prawn and cockle butter was great, with little bits of croutons for texture and showcasing a nice big bit of fresh white fish.
Desserts were good too. Raspberry cheesecake came with one of those powerful concentrated sorbets, as bright as neon, that the best pastry chefs do so well.
And this soufflé was just perfect, bags of zingy passionfruit flavour and not either too insubstantial or too eggy, a soufflé masterclass.
We walked off our lunch at the famous Jersey Zoo (sorry, Durrell Wildlife Park; people are very nervous about the word "zoo" these days), and then once closing time there approached, headed back to the Atlantic for our last gasp attempt to keep the holiday (sorry, "press trip") going with a spot of afternoon tea. And that was pretty much that. Two and a bit days in the Channel Islands, a part of the world that had hitherto been a bit of a Bergerac-themed mystery, and now I felt very much at home amongst the narrow lanes and expansive beaches, the sea spray and the seafood. It was all just so easy and comfortable, a little holiday island in the sun just half an hour from Gatwick. And it comes thoroughly recommended.
Mark Jordan at the Beach 7/10 Afternoon tea at the Atlantic Hotel 7/10
Our stay at the Atlantic Hotel and lunch at Mark Jordan at the Beach restaurant provided by the Atlantic Hotel. Flights and car hire provided by VisitJersey, oh who also gave us a pass for the zoo, sorry Wildlife Park, although we quite happily paid for afternoon tea ourselves.