AT risk of sounding like lonely Kazakhstan hill farmer, I have yearning for pleasure in rump of lamb.
Is deserved. Whole of Christmas and New Year I spend locked up in same house with Nigel. By time of Hootenany, is so bad I scream to get out, afraid I might take big kitchen cleaver to his Union Jack bedspread.
And this my dear beloved betrothed!
Is small fatty chop of overcooked, tough meat which has biggest bone Nadia see since days when wife of Vladimir, the Butcher of Uglich
Is sorry, long tale but now is all water under the Troitsky Bridge, as we say back in Old Country. Four weeks later and things return to normal. Or so he think.
Lucky many girlfriends I have to turn to in adopted beautiful city of Liverpool. So today we are two hot Russian ladies who luncheon and to Bretta & Co we take bus.
Bretta & Co is below car park in road off Bold Street. Is opened late last summer and is “hidden gem” say many peoples on TripAdvisor.
“Liverpool’s first and only fine dining bistro,” it boast.
Is want to be Lunya? Is want to be Delifonseca? Who can know? But is same idea. Food shop, attached to restaurant, selling very good expensive cheese, very good wine and all the treats.
“But is no pickled fruit!”, cries Tatiana, inspecting groaning shelves. “Where is herring?”
“No Russian tidbits, but much western luxury,” I scold. Is true. Many brands of alcoholic spirits line up. These no rot eyes, I remind her, like those of old babooshka who make one hundred gallons of beetroot vodka in shed many years ago.
Elderly crone fill mixing tank with water, yes? No, she fill tank with methylated fluid used for tractor. Since then, she old blind babooshka and much of village walk with white sticks also.
Here to UK, then, comes young cousin Tatiana looking for husband. Is here for one months already and know nothing. I show her all the best places so that she able to ask for good dinner when find courtship with English mans.
Today we sit down at table in window by waiter man called Paolo from Portugal who has been round restaurant block a few times and is very good.
Nadia recognise this Paolo from earlier visit to Bretta's, with Nigel, in October. Both enjoy evening, even though he drink too much very good wine (Nigel) from long list of suggestions.
Loose tongue wine make, and Nigel loudly speak of dream - to legalise handguns for all - which make some peoples glance out of corners of eye.
“Well this is called Beretta’s!” he snort, like uneducated pig he is.
Is unforgettable night: melt in mouth lamb shoulder (£!5), with enough green beans to feed Red Army. Chicken liver and truffle pate starter (£9) is home made and powerful as version back home, but delicious.
Is nice side order of favourite thing: chips (£3), another of caramelised onions and mushrooms (£3); cauliflower cheese (£3) has creamy mature kick to sauce.
There is also tart with rich taste. Like Nadia.
Foreign food make Nigel sick. Lucky plenty English dish to choose. He plump for tasty Charter pie (£11) of creamy chicken and leeks from Cornwall.
“When I become MP I make rule that only British food like this on school menus,” he announce, standing up for cigarette and waving his little Bic around…
Fastly forward to the start of 2015 and today prove different kettle of sprats.
“New chefs, new menu,” say Bretta briskly. “It all start yesterday.”
For moment, Nadia panic - until spot constant craving, rump of lamb, at very top of list. Is pan roasted and served with a fondant potato, buttered kale, spring carrots and a red wine sauce (£15).
“Is slightly wrong cut of rump delivered today,” Bretta explain. “We sack supplier tomorrow."
Is wrong cut, but still rump, no? So after long consideration over starter of very oily black olive tapenade (£7) with better red pepper hummus and lovely warm flatbreads, this, the lamb, I order.
Everything on plate is perfect - all except meat. Is not only wrong rump, it not rump at all. Is small fatty chop of overcooked, tough meat which has biggest bone Nadia see since days when wife of Vladimir, The Butcher of Uglich. Tear springs to eye.
“Is something wrong?” ask waiter gently. “You like to order something else?”
Nadia nod and he take away, which is bad because almost finish, but good because he care. Is no possible that fish can go wrong, I think, so pick again.
For next 25 minutes waiting time, Tatiana devour Japanese Tuna Tataki, she already order because “Is sound like my name!”. Big steaky tuna is served on a bed of citrus soy sauce with avocado and spinach (£17) of many colours.
Is good, my little squirrel says, though not so sure in text four hours later.
Nadia's own fish replacement eventually arrive: wild mushroom, roast garlic and celery lentil broth with pan roasted cod (£14). Lovely.
A spoon of lentils. But look, they are consistency of shotgun pellets!
Imagine demented Duke of Edinburgh bursting through door, all the barrels ablaze and shouting: “Get down on ground!” before shoot whole place down. Well is not unlike what you would find on this plate, my friend, when eventually you creep from under table.
Where is roast garlic? Are mushrooms wild, or swimming like eels? Lentils need longer, cod need longer, but Tatiana and Nadia have no longer. We let people of Bretta’s know, settle bill and leave for shopping spree - all on fiance Mastercard.
Did Tatiana win dinners with tuna today? No, my friend. Nadia win two dinners.
"And one not even have to pay for," is proud boast to Nigel in bed that night.
Best thing is remind of food blind babooshka boil up every day for all 14 of us back home. Even celery look terrifying.
Suddenly is grateful for warm memory of Old Country and I lie under Union Jack bedspread and eyes go mist.
Nigel reaches for box of tissue and make lamp go black.
Venues are rated against the best examples of their kind: takeaways against the best takeaways, fine dining against the best fine dining, etc.
6-9: Take me to your freezer
10-11: In an emergency
12-13: If you happen to be passing
14-15: Worth a trip out
16-17: Very good to exceptional
18-20: As good as it gets