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Gallery Mess, Chelsea

I'm not convinced about the Saatchi Gallery. I think it's a little bit too cool for me. (Read: I don't get it.) I love the V&A, the British Museum, the Tate...but there's something missing for me at the Saatchi.

What I am convinced about, though, is Gallery Mess. I was invited to try this bright and airy space just off bustling Kings Road, much to my good fortune.

I rarely say this, given that I was brought up by a father with the motto "it's better to over cater than under cater", but their portions were a little too big. The food is rich, and flavoursome, so once I got going on my chicken liver starter - well, I just couldn't stop. 

Which meant I couldn't finish my generous mushroom tortellini main, or fit in any dessert. Fail.

But go. Just have some self control when it comes to your starter. Be a better person than I was.

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Friday night with the girls

Once upon a time, not so very long ago, Friday night meant drinks, bar hoping, dancing, a nasty bit of fast food on the way home in the wee hours of the morning, and very sore feet and dirty high heels.

These days, Friday nights still mean drinks, but they go a little something like this:

Step 1: get all the whinging out of the way re the weeks woes over a bottle of wine, champagne cocktails and a dim sum platter (thanks to Miss O and her groupon addiction) at The Gate.

Step 2: decide more food is in order and head to a reliable cheap and cheerful nearby - in our case, Four Seasons - for a "proper" meal, another bottle of wine, and lots of laughs.

Step 3: try something new by investigating PappaRoti - "the father of all buns". Side note: this is singularity in the extreme, they only serve one kind of bun with a variety of drinks. I kind of like that - they are clearly very confident that this IS the father of all buns. It's pretty damn good, actually.

Step 4: return home before midnight, full, and with happy feet.

Getting older? Nah. I prefer to think of it as getting smarter.

Polpo, Covent Garden

Every Monday should start with prosecco and friends you don't see often enough. 

Now I'm just going to put it out there: prosecco > champagne. No dry feeling in your throat building up after your second glass? Yep, that's exactly how I like to enjoy my bubbles. 

I've been meaning to go back to Polpo for ages, even more since my love affair with their cookbook. With R & B in town, it was the perfect excuse.

(Isn't it the sweetest thing ever that this paper thin bread is known as "sheet music"?)

Sadly, my tastebuds were still only operating at 60%, but I can definitely vouch for the chilli and garlic prawns which left a satisfying tingle on my lips. 

As we snaffled up the small plates, we moaned about the cost and rigour of obtaining visas to stay in Britain and chatted about the abundance of pregnancies amongst our friends.

Oh, and toasted to the CG being a best man in Jamaica in August! There ensued quite a lot of man-hugging, a few misty eyes and a discussion regarding suits and yurts. 

All I could think of was the swim up pool bar. 

Square Meal da Polpo on Urbanspoon

Chinese New Year at Phoenix Palace, Marylebone

The worst thing about getting married? Knowing you'll forever have to give red packets instead of receive. SAD FACE.

To celebrate (her ongoing unmarried status and therefore ability to receive free money indefinitely) Miss O organised the first proper big Chinese feast I've had since moving to London at Phoenix Palace. I know. 5 years of only having real banquets when I see my family. 

So guess what happens on this most auspicious day?

I lose my sense of taste despite not having a blocked nose. MASSIVE SAD FACE.

Is there any worse fate that could befall me? I think not. 

Texturally speaking, the stuffed lotus flower was excellent. And everyone else assures me that all the dishes were tasty, particularly the soup, prawns, lobster and Peking duck. Damn them.

Believe it or not, there were three other dishes I forgot to photograph. 

I'm not sure we had enough food, to be honest. 

Square Meal Phoenix Palace on Urbanspoon

Bumpkin, South Kensington

Every year I've lived in London, I've gone to the Wildlife Photographer of the Year with the usual rascals. Every year, I wonder whether I agree with the winner, but then simply can't pick a shot that's better, because they're all so good. And anyway, who am I to judge? If you've never been, go. It's good. But crowded. Very crowded.

To prepare your nerves for negotiating the hoards, why not have brunch at Bumpkin, first?

Starting with a Bloody Mary, obviously.

Bumpkin is a gorgeously comfy place, not on the nicest stretch of road, but once you're in there, who cares? You'd never notice what was going on outside anyway - it's all about what's right in front of you.

Once you're full, head on over to the wonderful Natural History Museum for the exhibit.

(I know, the CG and D look far too natural as a couple with child, don't ya think?)

And to soothe your nerves, or to console yourself after the horrors of reading about animals on the verge of extinction, why not head to Scoop afterwards for some gelato?

If you're really lucky, you'll see Alex the lion on the way home.

It was a pretty good Saturday.

Square Meal Bumpkin on Urbanspoon