36 on the Quay

Down in Emsworth, Hampshire, right at the bottom of a tiny little road on the quay, there’s a little restaurant. Emsworth is only about an hour and a half drive from London. It’s an expensive restaurant…

Established by Gary Pearce, who earned his stripes at such vaunted places as Noma, it’s a family run venue with a limited menu and not so many seats. To make it work they had to go to fine dining. There’s a Michelin Star for this year proudly displayed as you go inside. I came with an appetite.

This unexpected meal was on Tristan. He wouldn’t even let me help with drinks. The driving lessons I gave him, leading up to his successful test? This was his way of paying me back for my patience and time. The lessons were a gesture of friendship and freely given. Ditto this rather special lunch. A very tasty sort of karma.

Much as I like to eat out, it’s rare I go to fine dining. I’ve got the ghost of my father having a soup and a roll and reminding me how much everything is hugely marked up – especially the wine. Nevertheless this is too good an opportunity to miss. It’s pretty grounded as well. I really don’t think I’d feel intimidated even if I hadn’t been the guy in the suit with the pad or the guy on the pass with the tickets reasonably often in my abundant history of short jobs.

36 on the quay is the unassuming name for it that ensures they’re the first hit on Google. It’s a good thing I’m an omnivore. It was a very special meal, with lots of unexpected extra courses. Canapes. Amuse bouches. Pre-dessert. They even brought us a little glass of pink rosé when they got wind it was my birthday coming up. I was absolutely replete when we left. Here’s my wagyu steak…

I could even have a glass of wine, despite the long drive back to London, because Tristan was at the wheel! Teaching people to drive comes with all sorts of unexpected advantages. I sat beside him in a benign torpor back to London, trying to unpick the habit I still have of commenting on his gear selection and analysing his split second decisions as a driver. Now he’s passed his test I’m basically just a terrible backseat driver for him. Right now it’s understandable and pretty acceptable as it’s still so new, but if I’m still doing it in a decade he’ll have to throw me out at a bus stop…

Author: albarclay

This blog is a work of creative writing. Do not mistake it for truth. All opinions are mine and not that of my numerous employers.

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