On a recent trip to London, my wife and I set out for a quick visit to the charming neighborhood of "Little Venice" to do a bit of sightseeing. We had planned to visit the canals there and then stroll through some of the residential neighborhoods before moving on to nearby Maida Vale to locate my wife's old haunts from when she lived there years ago.
Having worked up an appetite after departing the Paddington Station on the H&C underground line, we found ourselves at Formosa Street, a charming block with a handful of local shops. At the end of the street we found ourselves standing in front of "Paulette", a little French restaurant that seemed to have our name on it so to speak. We hesitated for a few seconds, communicating with each other through body language, glances and eye rolls, while debating non-verbally as to whether we were going to give into the lure of a scrumptious French lunch or move on to more affordable everyday fare as originally planned. That's when, to our surprise, we found ourselves comfortably seated outside at a sunlit deuce which quickly became a four-top as the two gents who were seated next to us abruptly left in response to a sudden business call. We were now settled into our seats and pleased with the ambience of the street as well as ourselves for having given in to the impulse.
We selected a glass of Pinot Noir from the wine list and then ordered three of the entrees to share: Velouté de Courge Butternut (Roasted butternut squash soup with thyme & garlic, Camembert rôti (Baked Camembert served with croutons & chutney) and the Moules "Bretonne® (Mussels cooked with cider & smoked bacon). The mussels were medium in size, rich in color, and with and meaty texture; the soup, light but flavorful, provided a nice balance to the shellfish; and my favorite of the three, the roasted camembert with the crunchy toasts and chutney that I believe is the kind of plate that screams "vive La France." Mehli, our server, brought us some French bread without our asking when he spied the wine sauce sitting forlornly at the bottom of the bowl of moules, remarking, "I know you don't want to let that sauce go to waste," as he set the bread plate before us. An espresso and a delectable creme brulee topped off the afternoon. Our leisurely "in the moment" lunch extended well into the late afternoon, thus requiring a return visit in order to search for those old Maida Vale haunts. I smiled to my self, wondering if we would succeed with even a second attempt or if serendipity would strike twice in the same place. I was certainly willing to provide the opportunity.