Tony’s Birthday Part 1 – Everything But The Plan

I had it all planned out.  I was going to surprise Tony by spending the morning at Southbank at an experiential art exhibition, lunch around Southbank (maybe even try the food stalls or the food trucks around for summer) with his close friend, an afternoon of yoga and then dinner.  The only bit that was going to be a surprise was the art exhibition but alas it wasn’t to be.

It was raining and when we got there, they told us that one of the sections of the exhibition was closed because of the rain.  So my surprise was blown and we didn’t get to go to the exhibition that day.  We instead opted to return the following week in the hopes that it would be sunny and all sections of the exhibition would be open.

So, an impromptu alternative meant we ended up at the Hotel Cafe Royal for hot chocolate.  My reasoning was that the best thing to cure any ailments caused by trudging around in the cold, windy rain was hot chocolate!

It worked.

This was my “Traditional” hot chocolate.

Jivara 40% milk chocolate
Jivara 40% milk chocolate

Birthday Boy chose “The Dark Mapbelieve”.

Guanaja 70% chocolate with toasted pecan and maple syrup
Guanaja 70% chocolate with toasted pecan
and maple syrup

We didn’t have time to try anything else at the cafe because we’d changed our plans and his friend was coming to meet us within 30 mins so we could have lunch together.

So, we enjoyed the hot chocolate…

Cafe Royal

… (yes, he was happy) and met up with his close friend and her partner for lunch at Ham Yard Hotel, one of our favourite places in London.

We ended up sitting and eating in the bar area.  As it was impromptu, we didn’t book a table and because it was raining, every table booked outdoors had to be accommodated for indoors leaving no room for us.  Still, the bar food was pretty good and it allowed us a comfortable place to catch up.

We ate things like:
Chorizo sausage rolls and rapeseed mayonnaise (in picture below).
Pork belly, butter beans, onion soubise, salsa verde  (in picture below).
Hot salt beef, mustard mayo and pickles. (A sandwich with a paper thin amount of salt beef, nothing like what we had imagined.)
Ham Yard house-glazed smoked ham, Fontina and truffled mascarpone. (a posh ham and cheese sandwich)
Crisp shredded duck, hoisin sauce Sliders  (2 on a plate).

The dishes were tiny (being bar food), we cut everything up and split it between the 4 of us so we could all try a bit of everything.

HamYard BarIt was all delicious.  Just, small, minuscule, tiny portions.

We didn’t have the heart to order any more even though we were hungry because his friend’s partner who we just met had offered to pay.  Instead, we enjoyed the meal and the company, said our farewells and then subsequently found out from each other that we were both still hungry.

Tones decided that he didn’t want to go to yoga anymore.

So we walked all the way to and down Oxford St looking for food and finally stopped at Simit Sarayi.  We had walked past this many times before and every time it was so crowded, it really put us off going in but since it was his birthday, I encouraged him to brave the crowds and try something different.

We ended up getting a tomato and mozzarella sandwich ha ha ha.  How’s that for different?  Well, the bread was different to what we’re used to.  It was nice.  He did try this “dill and cheese ball” pastry they had which neither of us really liked (it was a bit dry) and I chose a little cake.  I told him it was his “birthday cake” even though I picked it.  It tasted like a black forest cake but lighter (not so dense, no syrup) and the base was crispy rice puffs in chocolate.  It was good, not too sweet and very light.  It was a nice birthday cake.

Simit Sayati Afternoon Snack
Simit Sayati Afternoon Snack

We couldn’t eat it in the restaurant because it was so full and all the seats were taken, so we got it takeaway, walked around the corner and sat at our favourite outdoor place to chill out in the middle of the city.  It wasn’t the best idea.  This place is beautiful when it’s sunny but it’s quite difficult to get any shelter from the rain there as we soon found out.


I was worried that because nothing had gone according to plan and we’d spent so much time outside in the rain that Tony would be disappointed but he was really happy with how we spent the day.  Phew!

Favourite Place

Ahh London, what other city can look so beautiful when it’s dark and cloudy?

I still have to tell you about the dinner we went to for his birthday, the piste de resistance and the art exhibition, hence the “Part 1” in the title.  So stay tuned and I’ll fill you in on that next week 🙂

Until then, keep loving life!

Joy & Tony


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