They’re back! Popular Thanet columnists Jane Wenham-Jones and Mike Pearce reunite for a lunch date which has all the ingredients for disaster.Read what happened when author Jane lured retired editor Mike into foreign lands.
A good lunch
JANE: There’s nothing better than a good lunch out with your friends. Booking one for my mate Mike, however, is always a minefield. His list of requirements gets longer as his years advance. I quote: No fish, no kids, no groups or office parties, no blaring music, nothing Indian, nothing Chinese, nothing Malay, Thai or all stations east, no tasting menus, nothing drizzled in anything and nothing much over a tenner. “We might need to go somewhere where they serve pie,” I tell my son, who is accompanying us in order to quiz Mike on the rigours of editing a local newspaper for 20 years for a university project.
Tom is having none of it. “The Posillipo” he says firmly. It is indeed a favourite of ours. The food is unfailingly good and the staff have long lost their early reputation for Italian broodiness aka being downright surly.
I send Mike the link to the menu.
“Is this a send-up?” he writes back. “It’s all in Italian.”
I promise to guide him through the ‘carne’ section when we get there.
The day dawns bright and beautiful and we get a table outside. “I hope it won’t be too cold for him,” I say to Tom who is perusing the list of craft beers. He shakes his head. “I’m fine,” he says.
I spot the word drizzled
Mike arrives smiling but clearly apprehensive. “Pork escalopes?” I enquire. “Do you like rosemary?”
“I’ve got some in the garden,” he says doubtfully, “but I don’t eat it.” I am about to recommend a Tagliata di Manzo (strips of chargrilled rib eye steak served on a bed of rocket), when I spot the word “drizzled”.
We eventually settle on a Grigliata Mista (mixed grill to him) which he seems to like. Tom has a rather impressive pizza – Vesuvio with lots of chillis – and I do my usual and build my own with a smoked salmon and prawn dish from the starters menu served with a salad and some fries.
Tom orders a beer he can’t now remember the name of – but it soon disappears– and then drinks the rest of my wine: a most pleasing Bardolino rose I’ve not had before, which slips down a treat. “Isn’t it a pretty colour?” says Mike happily, even though he’s driving and on orange juice.
“How was your first foray into non-English food?” I ask when he’s on his ice-cream and my son is spending my hard-earned dosh on dessert wine and almond biscuits. Mike nods. Clearly it’s a curry next.
MIKE: She claims that going somewhere Italian for lunch is her son Tom’s choice.
But as she socialises with people who eat Appalachian goats’ meat off anvils and quaff artisan cider out of flower pots, who can doubt Jane’s hand was involved in an act of social wilfulness, knowing I would have chosen an English pie in an English pub.
Any road up, I am instructed to go to the Posillipo.
I don’t even know what a Posillipo is. Sports car? Illness? Eurovision contestant?
Turns out it’s a restaurant in Broadstairs, next to what in my day was Marchesi’s.
Our date gets off to a perfect start. One foot inside the restaurant is enough to trigger a beaming enquiry, delivered in fabulous Italian style, by an immaculately dressed staff member: “Aha! You are here for Jane?”
I am led to the appealing if wind-swept balcony, where the famous author plus son are seated at the best table in the house, overlooking the sea.
Written in Sanskrit
“What are you going to have?” asks Jane, pointing to a menu written in what I assume is Italian.
She might as well have presented a phonebook written in Sanskrit and asked who I wanted to call.
Then two remarkable things happen.
The sun emerges, to drive away the chill. And Jane graciously translates the dishes, beginning with a lengthy harangue about what I wouldn’t like – anything fishy, anything spicy and anything drizzled in anything. Hard to argue against that.
Surprisingly, this still leaves a more than decent choice, including what I would call a mixed grill. (Warning – if you’re looking for it, you’ll probably find it’s listed under an exotic title ending in ‘i’ or ‘o’.)
It turns out to be chicken, lamb, pork and steak – plus saute potatoes. Well, that’s amore, as Dean Martin used to sing.
After a couple of mouthfuls, I concede it is very amore indeed.
Choice of dessert is simple. Italian equals ice cream, in my book.
Bella! Carina! Jolly nice! Whatever language, lunch was as delightful as the weather and the company.Meat pie can wait for another day.
Mike and Jane ate at:
Posillipo, 14 Albion Street, Broadstairs.
Open every day. 12.00 till 11pm
Phone 01843 601133 or visit www.posillipo.co.ukMike’s verdict: Bellissimo – friendly, smart, efficient, plus great food.Jane says: I love it here x