The whole point of marriage seems to be that you get to spend all of life's significant moments alone. Like birthdays, wedding anniversaries, and the pink quilted-heart day from hell that is Valentine's day. Bad enough that it exists at all, but to be doing it with only the Paramount Comedy Channel for company is sadder than a size sixteen bikini. I don't know - you marry for romance and end up with joint frequent flyer miles.
It's not that I want roses to arrive bound in cellophane like repressed housewives only to bow their heads in cowed submission within hours or being decanted into a vase. Or chocolates. Or the nation-wide Valentine's day set menu serving asparagus tips, oysters and some coyly named dessert featuring passion fruit which is anyway biblical, not carnal.
What I want is enough properly lascivious food in a reliable restaurant with sentimental memories, whether husband is here or not. Over the years I've often eaten at 90 Park Lane - usually with the uncles - not a euphemism, I hasten to add - just transient relatives staying at the Grosvenor House. Now the restaurant has dropped its Michelin Stars and its capital letters to become 'cheznico' and Nico himself has retired from the kitchen leaving it solely in the experienced hands of Paul Hughes.
The set menu has also gone, though many of the established dishes still remain, for instance the tortellini of langoustine which I started with. It had succulent morsels of langoustine wrapped in pasta so fine and delicate that if it was a pashmina you could pass it through your wedding ring - well supposing you were actually wearing a wedding ring and hadn't thrown it in the fireplace. But just like the posh blanket, as a dish, it's slightly dated. I don't think it needs the lobster sauce draped around the tortellini, any more than any woman left alive really needs a pashmina.
My companion had a beautifully arranged honey roasted quail salad with French beans, served on a neat square of fried bread which, unaccountably, he left untouched. It took all my willpower not to swipe it. My other companion, Hugo, had terrine of foie gras which came with a whacking great doorstop of toasted brioche on the side. It was divine - indeed the whole meal was something of foie gras heaven.
To follow I had Bresse pigeon with baby vegetables and yes, yes, yes - I loved (italics) it. I would offer to worship, honour and even obey it. Rare pigeon breast with the thinnest sliver of foie gras mouse nesting against it, wrapped in a wilted spinach leaf, and two teeny legs stuffed with something teenier - God knows what - but delicious anyway. Stunning, said Hugo appreciatively, though that particularly adjective so often applied to fine wine and wonderful food makes me imagine being hit over the head with a blunt object. This was more along the lines of bliss. The kind that makes your knees buckle.
Hugo had perfectly caramelised sweetbreads, or so rumour has it, crisp on the outside but still soft and tender on the inside and served with artichokes and a generous scattering of morels. Stunning, he said.
My other companion had saddle of lamb with rosemary jus, but who knew? Who even looked at his plate? Not a soul until the final pudding contestants arrived and he had the apple crumble. Now, I do have a problem with smart, restaurant crumble. I like bad crumble. I like (italics) the burnt bits from the edges of the tin and I like second helpings. This was too big Maclean's white smile, natural blonde nice, and Hugo's nougat glacˇ, too frilly, goody-two shoes, dyed blonde sweet. They were both fine if that's what you like but for me the prune and Armagnac ice cream which I've had before, was the overall drop dead gorgeous winner. The Armagnac has attitude and the prunes, you feel, rescue kittens and do good work in their spare time..
No real complaints then? Oh, come on now - get real- it's only Valentine's day - not Christmas: The redesigned, pared-down menu will allow you to eat very well for as little as £35 a head if you chose carefully, or £62 for the gastronomic menu, but you still feel as if you're sitting in a sedate hotel dining room. It's a pleasant room, but one with the air of a very well preserved middle-aged woman who has her hair carefully styled once a week and who still wears slips. And it's full of men who look as though they are married to her. The old uncles, I'm afraid, are still there in spirit.
No doubt it will loosen up as the new menu catches on. The waiters have smart new uniforms but the room itself needs a make-over the way I need to spend three hours in Rigby and Peller with serious corsetry and the husband's credit card.
Two in every colour, that's what I always say.