My husband celebrated his birthday on the weekend. Since we married many many moons ago, we have always done something special on our birthdays and anniversaries, and the only times we haven’t have been if a) we’ve been ill, or b) on a flight somewhere exciting.
So I booked a fancy restaurant, one we’ve been to before but haven’t visited for ... um ... too many years to remember. (We’re guessing at least seven.) We went on Saturday night, keen to avoid the Sunday night Mother’s Day Brigade on his actual birthday. Saturday nights is their degustation night. I booked the six course menu, as the nine course seemed just too much.
We got dressed up, took a taxi (so as not to be tempted to drive home after too much alcohol), and ordered a glass of champagne on arrival. The restaurant is in an old Bank building, with ceilings double height, large Greek Corinthian columns surrounding the main room, and a grand bar; suitably luxurious surroundings to make my husband feel special. The service was impeccable, as was the food, and matched wines. A tiny serving of crab on a transparently-thin wafer whet our appetites (and not included in the six courses) and then, over the next two and a half hours, we savoured salmon with horseradish cream, paua ravioli, venison with beetroot risotto, rack of lamb with pea gnocchi, a divine divine brie with a fig compote (almost our favourite course), and a selection of chocolate desserts with peanut butter ice-cream. Fortunately the servings were small enough that we didn’t feel stuffed, and the matched wines included half glasses as well as full glasses, so we were able to stand without wobbling at the end of the meal. The price was what we expected, but we got a discount by using a gold card for an entertainment club, so we felt as if we’d had a bargain.
We didn’t have to rush home on a deadline to baby-sitters, or to tip-toe into the house scared we'd wake the kids. We could sleep in on Sunday morning, knowing we didn’t have to rise early for young children, or to ferry older children to sports activities. We didn’t have to save the money for school fees, or a child’s birthday present, or music lessons. We simply enjoyed an evening, and celebrated our relationship.