Susan and I had been on the road together for ten days with nary a single cross word, but she wasn’t amused when I joked, perhaps a bit harshly, “Oh, just get over it.”
Nonetheless, she did in the end “get over it,” declaring all the food — two lamb dishes and two chicken dishes – delightful. And so they were.
One of the many joys of being in London, as we were on this last night in Europe on November 16, is eating Indian food. It is reliably good and generally doesn’t cost an arm and a leg (a big plus in pricey London). So Susan, Sarah, Martin, and I were indulging at Light of India in South Kensington. I’ve been there many times and one of the waiters remarked he thought I looked familiar. However, we had gone through a bit of an adventure to get there. And adventures are what make a trip great in the retelling.
Ours began when I booked rooms for us in Mayfair rather than the Crowne Plaza (until a few years ago a Holiday Inn) on Cromwell and Gloucester Road. I have stayed many times at this gem of a hotel, which isn’t too outrageously priced (again, by London standards), especially when you book online in advance directly through the hotel website. It backs up to St. Stephen’s Church, and if you get there early enough (as I tend to, coming in on the red eye from Houston) and ask, they will give you a room overlooking the church yard. This view almost makes you feel like you are in the English countryside rather than right across the street from the Gloucester Road tube station (which, by the way, makes this hotel extremely handy).
But on this particular night in London I was using hotel points to get us rooms and didn’t have enough for the Crowne Plaza. However, I had accumulated enough Hilton points, so chose Hilton Green Park. It was nice enough, but by now South Kensington feels like home. After all, the delights of Kensington Palace and the Victoria & Albert are within easy walking distance. But I digress. Back in Mayfair, we didn’t have any problems until we asked the concierge for a recommendation for an Indian restaurant. Oh yes, he replied, and booked us at Benares on Berkley Square. As we made our way around the square (in completely the wrong direction as we started out probably twenty feet from our destination but arrived only after circumnavigating counterclockwise the entire square) we began to have misgivings. This was rich, rich, rich beyond our wildest dreams. The Bentley/Rolls Royce showroom next door to Benares was a dead giveaway. The menu, courteously planted on the sidewalk, confirmed it as appetizers started at thirty-five pounds. We jumped in the nearest taxi and, at my direction, our cabby got us right to the front door of Light of India.
So here are the links for a couple of my favorite haunts in London, as well as Benares in case anyone out there has a whole lot more money than me. I am told the food is excellent, but then the Light of India is pretty darn good too. After all, “Grandma Leonard” liked it and three years ago one of the waiters fell in love with Karin. Like I said, I’ve been there a few times.