Do you secretly miss gherkins, fish-paste sandwiches and peardrops? Does your palate yearn for a menu of cream of tomato soup, fish in parsley sauce and rice pudding, washed down with a piña colada? If so, make your way to 29, Old Burlington Street, W1, home until November to Retro Feasts, ‘a food-and-drink concept inspired by our childhood favourites’. Its Wünderkind chef, Luke Thomas, is only 19-too young to remember the Berni Inns to which his creations pay homage-but there’s prawn cocktail, steak with peppercorn sauce and Black Forest gâteau.
You half-expect Alison Steadman to appear bearing a tray of cheese-and-pineapple skewers. Interestingly, although the recipes are well into their fourth decade, the diners seemed to come from a much more recent vintage. We were the oldest things in the room-apart, perhaps, from the carpet on the stairs, which looked as if its origin had been a provincial bingo hall.
Two teenage girls in denim shorts cooed over every breaded, deep-fried mouthful. ‘Do you think they’re tinned?’ whispered one ecstatically when her peach Melba arrived. A line from Beckett’s Murphy came to me: ‘The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new.’
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