There are three of us in this marriage. Me, the husband and the black ruffled Agent Provocateur bra - and one of the few pleasures of happily ever marriedom is that occasionally we all get to go out together and no-one gets arrested.
So to Al Duca, just round the corner from the Ritz and Fortnum's. Above a funny club called Gaslight where the sign outside urges you to leave your inhibitions behind.
Inside the restaurant, however, you keep your inhibitions firmly on the seat beside you, next to the funny little Toblerone shaped cushions. It's too bright to do much else. The lighting is severe enough to wear spike heels and advertise in a telephone box, though the food is mercifully gentler, and works out an awful a lot cheaper as an evening's entertainment.
The chef, Michele Franzolini, worked at both Zefferano and Spiga before joining Al Duca and offers the same kind of Zefferano type low-price, good value set menu. Dinner is £22 for 4 courses, £16 for 2 courses - less at lunch for more or less the same menu. The atmosphere probably works better at mid-day when I imagine it's buzzy and metropolitan. In the evening it was a bit too cool for my taste. Although full of people, including lively members of what looked like the Abba fun club over by the bar - it was all slate walls, frosted glass and bottle blonde wood - like a chic canteen complete with wipeable tables.
It's a similarly straightforward no-frills menu. Bread arrives unbidden at the table like a well trained maid and starters consist mainly of salads and things like bresaola and mozzarella. I had smoked swordfish which was pleasantly straight-forward, though the accompanying 'aromatic' leaves weren't particularly scented, and turned up in almost all the subsequent dishes with the frequency of an Australian soap star. They'll be doing Panto next. Husband had a wonderful French bean salad with cured pork which I promptly confiscated. Nice textures - crisp beans, perfect ham and a fantastic Sicilian flatbread drizzled with oil. Lovely simple, honest flavours.
The cleavage wasn't hungry.
To follow I had another smoky dish - halibut wrapped in Parma ham with sage. Though it was sautˇed to a fragile golden crispness on the outside, maybe just(italics) the other side of done with the pungent flavour of the sage like a fat man blowing cigar smoke right in your face. Not quite there but a really good try. Otherwise the roasted cod with white beans looked delicious.
Husband had duck confit with lentils and loved it. It was an excellent, if unsurprising dish. Somewhat like the cleavage after fifteen years of marriage you'd have thought. But some old wonders just never cease to charm.
We passed on the pasta which I admit was probably a bit like going to see a movie, watching the Peal and Deans and then walking out before the main feature. The vongole was off the menu which was a shame but the his and hers leather jackets on the Toblerone cushion next to us were having pasta with peas and bacon which has had a fantastic response from customers and critics alike. The man had the ragout with wild mushrooms and he and the leather Queen were both almost licking their plates.
You might think, as I did, that you couldn't possibly eat four courses and have room for everything - but watch my hips, you can. Portions are manageable. Service in the front of house extremely pleasant but delivery a bit brisk - and the pouring of wine positively evangelical. Most of our bottle of Prosecco had been poured and drunk before we even got to the main course - and our water replenished so often that perhaps they feared we would spontaneously combust should our glass stand empty.
Quick Luigi - dial 999 we've got another burner on table five.
Puddings - well since they had 'no more the lemon tart', Husband had taramisu and I had a coconut tart which the waitress said was quite interesting. It wasn't, though I'm not complaining. It was a serviceable end to a very good, if businesslike, meal for a great price.
Terrific if you're in a hurry, doing it in your lunch hour, or dashing off to the theatre - but not a place for long languid foreplay. But I was happy. Husband was happy - and the cleavage, which probably should have been table dancing in the club downstairs, pleased to get home early.
Actually, the bra isn't even mine. It belongs to my friend Julia. But that is another story altogether....