In the hustle and bustle of the Big Smoke, there is always need for solace and respite from the crowds, especially at Christmas-time when the world and his wife take to the streets.
What is often the case however, is that there is an abundance of quantity but no indication of quality- who can you rely on to serve you graciously and bring you dishes that leave you wondering if you might just get away with licking the bowl clean, such is the hunger of a weary shopper.
I fortunately had the pleasure of an invitation to Aubaine's newly opened Marylebone location, that left me feeling slightly more confident about braving the city this season.
Where it is sadly neighboured with a construction site, it makes up for this with its proximity to Ginger Pig Delicatessen and La Fromagerie on a quiet street, just slung off the main stretch. That's meat, cheese and coffee all within metres of each other- how perfect- I make a mental note to myself to return one Sunday afternoon.
As for Aubaine, a pretty interior peeks out of its large windows with warm lighting and twinkling but minimal Christmas decoration illuminated by candles.
Coat taken and place appointed, I was seated at a long table and admired the little touches as I waited patiently. Water and bubbles kept me company- I always seem to be early for things!
The guests arrived and we set to long and animated conversations, while dish after dish was gently placed unobtrusively in front of us, boasting modestly sized delights that peppered our dialogue with 'Ooh you should have one of these' or 'If you don't eat that soon, I WILL'.
Appropriately-sized, honest and rustic, the food was simple but perfectly executed, as was the service. I usually like to chat to whomever is serving me but we were all so relaxed and engrossed by the flickering candlelight, the meal seemed to appear (and disappear) as if by magic- before we knew it, every table surrounding us was full and brimming with serene expressions nibbling on elegantly-cooked fare, tiredness and stress of the long day gently ebbing away from their faces with each sip and bite.
With venues located at Regent Street, Kensington, Mayfair, Wimbledon, Selfridges and Hampstead, I'm glad to know where I can go for a little simple luxury.
The venue was ambient, the food top-notch and the company just lovely.