We finally motivated and left the luxurious surroundings of our hotel somewhere around 8:30 tonight.
Plans to meet up with Amy (a friend from SF) were scrapped, as were my grand plans to check out the Tate Modern. But dammit, I was gonna knock off one of my must-do's. So off we went to the French House for dinner and drinks.
Of course, the French House was all booked up. No room at the inn this Christmas weekend!
But that wasn't going to stop me from introducing Elena and J to my all-time favorite pub. Surly, weird old men, elbow-to-elbow seating, enough cigarette smoke to seize the toughest of lungs. What's so great about this place? It oozes old school cool, that's what. It was Charles DeGaulle's headquarters for the French Resistance. To keep things cozy, they have a strict ban on mobile phones and flash photography. They only serve half-pints so that your beer is always fresh and cold. There's also the illusory benefit that you're only spending £1.30 a drink, which really makes sense after you've had a few, right? Drunk logic:
"Dude, that round was less than £5!"
"I know! I love this place!"
After fooling ourselves into thinking we'd gotten a bargain, and probably breathing in enough smoke to give us emphysema, we went down to Gerrard Street - London's Chinatown - in search of food. Not an issue, considering half the restaurants are open 'til 3am. Why did I not find this street on previous trips???
Walking from window to window, we settled on Luxuriances, a peking-style Chinese joint. We gorged, completely demolished the white tablecloths, and walked out full. The £10 prix fixe menu is chock full of good stuff. Spare ribs, fried seaweed, cashew chicken, sweet and sour, veggies... wow. But the real stars for me were the sweet corn soup and the aromatic crispy duck. You see, when I was a kid here in London, this sort of stuff was my first taste of Chinese food and was the standard by which we judged all other Chinese food. And since then, my parents and I have been chasing the same sort of corn soup and duck in the States, with few (if any) happy results.
I was so happy, I wanted to call my mom and gloat. I think I'll just send her a snotty email.
Alas, dinner was so big and took so long that we missed doing the bumper cars at Leicester Square. Which is a shame, because we planned on smashing into J so much that he'd puke up an entire Chinese buffet for all the little chavs and chavettes to pick through.
Now we're home, full, and ready to pass out. Of course, I'm sure we'll be hungry in 15 minutes. No matter where you are in the world, it's still Chinese food.
Off to España in the morning!