With the combination of various work and family commitments in the last month or so, I seem to have done a lot of dining out in a whirl that's felt less like a jet-set lifestyle and more like a permanently jet-lagged one.
But when it came to my birthday, there was still only one thing I had in mind.
Our first experience of Bistrot Bruno Loubet was a year ago to the date – and we’d been back three times since, so it’s probably fair to say that it has become established as our favourite London eatery.
Although, to be rather more accurate, it's the first time in London that we've actually found a restaurant that we enjoyed enough to want to go back to, which is precisely why we've eaten out so little when at home previously.
And on Sunday, there we were again.
Contemplating an aperitif, we were sold on the idea of Bruno’s special seasonal infusion, involving Drambuie, gin and cranberry syrup, with subtle spicing.
Incredibly boozy to the nose, but surprisingly subtle to taste – and very refreshing, these were a very pleasant start to the meal.
For my starter, I opted for a ballotine of foie gras, with sour fig marmalade, a lemon glaze and green beans.
It was served not so much with toast, as with very briefly fried bread – which added a superb, light-as-a-feather texture to the dish.
The fig marmalade also provided an excellent foil for the sweetness of the foie gras, while the crunchy beans added another layer of texture.
All in all, very enjoyable indeed.
For my main course, I chose roast partridge – not least because I’ve never actually had a game bird cooked for me in a restaurant. And this is how it's done.
It had been jointed, and came with fresh choucroutte (sauerkraut), sautéed cauliflower and apple, and a cider roasting jus.
Any by gum, it was lovely. The meat was still just pink, but moist and really tasty, with a crispy skin that was also good enough to eat.
The turned, sautéed apple was delightful – as were the tiny pieces of cauliflower. And there was just a little of the choucroutte to add a further texture, while the jus was light but packed with flavour.
We took a much-needed breather after that, before deciding on dessert.
Both of us selected a “bitter chocolate slice with coffee sabayon”, which actually turned out to be less of a “slice” and more of a sort of circle of dense mouse on a light base, topped with a dusting of cocoa powder and a tuile of (I think) praline, while the sabayon sat on the side.
Delicious – rich and gorgeous, with The Other Half raving about the sabayon. And after that, he finished with coffee, while I sipped an Amaretto.
Service was, as always, charming and attentive without ever being over-fussy or formal.
Quite simply, Bistrot Bruno Loubet never disappoints.