Time is of the essence.
We’ve got tickets for the Crucible, my boy and I. But an interval choc-ice ain’t going to suffice. We need to eat first.
Having left it until the last minute, most of Tudor Square was booked up. But Ego Mediterranean said they could squeeze us in - and out again - in time for 7pm curtain up. Just as long as we arrived at 5.50pm.
Ego sits at the back of the Mercure St Paul’s Hotel. When it was called Zucca, the only way in was through the hotel’s lobby and its restaurant. And that’s what we did, arriving all flustered at 6pm only to spot there’s now a Surrey Street entrance!
Even though the restaurant was full with theatre-goers, if we stuck to two courses we would make the show. Relief. Pass me a glass of house red (Tempranillo, small, £4.95).
Our table overlooked the leafy palms of the Winter Garden and, once we’d calmed down, we realised Ego is a stylish place. Soaring glass walls, swish leather booths, artily bare silver trees - very cosmopolitan. Great atmosphere, too.
Our fabulous waitress brought drinks and menus, took orders and got us the starter inside ten minutes.
It was a lovely, simple thing; a generous roundlet of perfectly grilled goat’s cheese on soft brioche with tangy chutney from the Pri-fixe menu (two courses for £12.95, add a pud for £3), specially devised for theatre-goers. The five starters, six mains and three desserts can all be swiftly cooked.
My main, roast cod in pancetta with a side of nicely-cooked veg, was perfectly pleasant, though the fish was positively swimming in a lagoon of leek sauce.
Typically, Boy had gone for something that cost more than mine; Sirloin Steak Frites, a pricy £17.95 but beautifully presented with a mini frying basket stuffed with slender, salted chips, side salad and a confit tomato. He pronounced his char-grilled sirloin a tad overdone and “fine, not the best I’ve ever had”. Which sums up Ego dining. But we were out of there at 6.50pm as promised. Excellent.