Whoo, food post. You’ve missed it, haven’t you?
But we all know a food post in this blog is never really only about food… Pinch of digression here and there, chunks of story-telling and aromatic pictures that speak for themselves…Ok let’s go.
This was a Saturday.
I beat Nikitin by 4 minutes to Green Park station, garbed in my white turtleneck jumper (which I bought solely for the hitherto cute woolen tassels that circled around its bottom. But now, this piece of shall we say art seems a little ridiculous so I have only let the turtleneck breathe and kept the ring of tassels underneath my coat ANYHOW) Nikitin, on the other hand, showed up in his 10-year-old navy coat that looked like it was fresh out of Carnaby Street. You bet we were strutting down Piccadilly making fashion statement.
The plan of the day was to have lunch at Shepherd Market, then sprint to the Royal Academy of Art “in case it rains”. Because according to the weather forecasts, London always rains.
The front of L’Autre was precisely where Nikitin exited the screen of his Google Review and my head started dinging with YES.
It wasn’t even enticing. Regular white window frames under green canopy, wet tables and folded-up chairs – but the sign that said Polish and Mexican was enough to send us into hypnotic state. Where else in the world do you find a restaurant like that? Polish AND Mexican!
This says what? Says, if you are truly one of a kind, no amount of penny plain surroundings will dim your light.
We pushed open the creaky door and found ourselves in a really small and hemmed-in place. It felt like we just stepped out of an explosion of light into a dim, mellow house of a septuagenarian. Sure if we dug deeper we could find crumbs that dated back to 1945.
There was no one chewing soul in sight. A lean, courteous man in white shirt stood up from the corner, folded away his newspaper and greeted us. He wasn’t rude, wasn’t too enthused by our visit either. And strangely, this tinge of nonchalance made us feel comfortable. Assured even. Like you know, we didn’t just walked into an empty, confused restaurant whose owner was out to fatten us with bad food and leave us traumatised with skinny wallet.
Overthink? Yes, sorry, let’s resume.
L’Autre as the name suggests, started out as French. The then owner had a Polish cook and since the cook cooked, Polish dishes were slowly introduced into the menu. (What a shrewd territory-snagging cook!) It wasn’t until 1977 though when the Mexican consulate was set up nearby that L’autre started putting together burritos and nachos to “make people happy”.
“Take anywhere,” the man said, when I took out my camera. “Take as many pictures as you like. This place is a lot older than you.”
So I did.
^ A jumble of currency notes and hats left by past visitors. The 1945-crumb might be there somewhere between them, aren’t you fascinated?
For starter, we shared a plate of herring with rye bread. Decided to dodge the Mexican altogether because (1) I’m lactose intolerant so can’t have too much cheese, (2) Nikitin is Slavic so can never have too much well, Polish.
For main, I had mushroom and sauerkraut dumplings with beetroot soup; He had sausages…which were like bangers and mash, but Polish. (So much for refusing to eat in a pub…)
^ The beetroot soup was a lot better with spoonfuls of sour cream. Very novel taste and I absolutely loved it.
Dessert was traditional Polish cheesecake, Sernik, then coffee.
^ It was a lot fluffier and lighter in flavour than the American cheesecakes we are accustomed to having.
We didn’t have to sprint to RA afterwards, but did reroute to Burlington Arcade where someone snapped up a pair of “ casual leather shoes“.
OK Back to work!
With love x