Thursday, 20 September 2012
This evening was memorable for the kerfuffle involved before we even arrived at the theatre. Nothing to do with transport delays, either.
I don't as a rule eat out before going the theatre - having offered to review a play in return for two free tickets and a programme, it would defeat the object. However, I had two £10 Tesco vouchers exchangeable in Cafe Rouge and due to expire on September 30th.
For Tuesday I'd made a successful bid to review Roger Rees's new show on opening night so it was an good opportunity to use them. Two-course pre-theatre meals for about £12 are widely offered in the West End.
The nearest branch to our destination was in Charing Cross Road. We allowed for an hour in the restaurant and were shoe-horned to a just-vacated table in the huge room. The pre-theatre menu was brought immediately, but in ten minutes no one had come to take our order. We were swivelling in our seats, but there just weren't enough waiters. The food at nearby tables looked great and we both fancied the lobster and crab cakes. But as the time crept on we figured we'd best find somewhere nearer the theatre.
Wong Kei to the rescue! Chinatown's most notorious restaurant was a by-word in the 60s for 'rush and rudeness' because the staff aimed for a high turnover of customers. I've eaten there recently with a thrifty friend, so knew they'd lost none of their speedy delivery and we'd even been allowed to linger - although admittedly in the late afternoon, after cheap haircuts at the Toni & Guy academy.
Sure enough, when we told the waitress we wanted to be out in half an hour she pointed to the quick dishes on the menu and we were served within five minutes - by no means gourmet fare, but the tea was free and the bill came to slightly over £9 for the two of us.
Cheap enough, and I still have the Cafe Rouge vouchers with ten days to go before expiry. This afternoon we're going to take our Christmas present vouchers to see if we can book for something before then.
I'm glad to say show more than made up for the aggravation. My review is on The Public Reviews website.