London Lite Tuesday, 29 September 2009 21 back a winner? POSH DATE Email your restaurant reviews to love@thelondonlite.co.uk Indulgence: Paul Merretts The Victoria IM ADDICTED to the Economy Gastronomy series on BBC2. So when I found out that one of the chefs, Paul Merrett, owns and cooks at The Victoria (10 West Temple Sheen, SW14, thevictoria.net), I demanded a visit to test out his handiwork. The man has two Michelin stars -- and now a glorious pub tucked away in genteel south-west London -- perfect. My starter of roasted scallops on pork belly (8.50) kept me very happy, while the date got his mouth round six rock oysters (8). He chose the incredible roasted lamb loin with merguez sausage and kofta skewer (14) for his main course, and my food envy would have overwhelmed me, had it not been for my pan-fried sea bass on sag aloo and onion bhajee (15.50). We naughtily ordered some thrice- cooked chips alongside (3), and a second bottle of Sancerre (35), both of which were entirely not necessary, but both of which we wholeheartedly enjoyed. We pushed it with dessert, however, and were forced to admit we could only share the thyme blossom, honey and ginger semi freddo (5). We agreed it was the best meal wed had in a very long time, and that Paul Merrett would approve. We left not a morsel of his delicious grub on our plates -- Economy Gastronomy indeed. DEBBIE, RICHMOND I was very impressed when I saw her -- shes hot. We arranged to meet at Waterloo station to get the train to Kempton Park together. Merly seemed a little preoccupied by her phone during the train journey and I was concerned it was because my chat was boring her, but she explained she was moving flat and was waiting to hear if her offer had been accepted. Once shed got the call from the estate agent she relaxed a lot more and our conversation flowed easily. We seemed very comfortable with each other from the start which was quite surprising as you never know how youll get on with someone when youve only seen their picture. Merly lives south of the river at the moment but shes moving in a week to just one Tube stop away from me. That was quite a coincidence, plus it gave us an easy initial topic of conversation. I told her a few of my favourite local bars but Merly came across as very independent and able to look after herself so I didnt give her too much advice. In the past shes travelled across Australia alone. I was really impressed by that, I like independent women. At the racetrack we had a great table overlooking the finishing line. The food was great but didnt distract me from concentrating on trying to pick a winner! We had a private betting tipster who advised us and we ended up going with his tips for most races as he clearly knew much more about it than us. We still didnt do brilliantly but we had a lot of fun. At the end of the night we were invited to present a trophy to the winning jockey in the final race. On the way down to the paddock Merly was taking the mickey out of me and I liked the fact she felt comfortable enough around me to do that. When we presented the trophy, the commentator announced over the Tannoy that we were on a blind date and that Merly was soon to be Merly Waitt! It was hideously embarrassing but we managed to have a laugh about it afterwards. I think I was a little reserved because of the blind date scenario but weve already arranged to meet up again. Weve spoken and texted each other since and Im looking forward to seeing her again. I dont want to jinx it but I have a good feeling about it. To find out more about Kempton Park racecourse visit kempton.co.uk. To find out more about horseracing visit gototheraces.com. INTERVIEW BY SHARON BRENNAN Guy made me feel a proper Charlie It might be time to Ditch bercool girl Twosingletonsshare theirsearchforlovePlaying thefield W HILE we wont actually refer to last weeks station debacle as a dumping -- after all Id been planning to do it anyway (kind of), theres still only one way to get over not seeing the boy again and thats to meet lots of other boys. So at the weekend I went out to enjoy being unattached. After all, this is what Im supposed to be writing about and when I started this column everyone told me I would end up going on dates with randoms who approached me through the paper. But I havent been propositioned at all. In fact, when Charlie, below, informed me he has been inundated with hopeful girls -- I keep being asked out on dates, dont you?! -- I had to mutter something about how boys are less likely to do that sort of thing. So when a guy in a bar recognised me from the column I was surprised and relieved -- at least I would have something to compete with Charlie over. And also I was looking forward to a bit of adoration. That was until he came out with: You look great in your pictures. Theyre airbrushed right? Way to knock a girl while shes down. My reaction was to stare open-mouthed for a bit and then -- as he started laughing -- to presume he was kidding and laugh with him. And actually maybe it wasnt the worst opening line as it got my attention and reminded me its never a good idea to take yourself too seriously. There was no romance there -- he was more keen on my friend -- but I had a fun evening and laughed more than I have in ages. He managed to convince me to take a picture of us, see above, to prove my shots arent studio fakes. I was happy to, after all Im a whizz with Photoshop... FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER.COM/ROMILLY LITE madeGuy Romilly Chambers Ditchtotime Charlie Parrish A FTER my significant victory last week with my apparently perfect girl Christina, I was feeling fairly relaxed about our progress. She said she didnt want to go out with other guys while we were an option and so when she suggested I come out with her friends, I agreed. Now, your views on a prospective girlfriends friends shouldnt influence your feelings about them at all. But they do. A persons mates reflect their own personality enormously. For example, Ive always been wary of girls who dont seem to have any proper girl friends. Means shes a b***h. Anyway, it was time to meet Christinas army of pals. There was a night out in Shoreditch planned, with words like dub- step, warehouse and pretentious nonsense being bandied about. (I made the last one up.) Im reasonably cool (dont laugh), but this lot were incredible. No one seemed to have actual conversations, just brief windows to dismiss things for being too mainstream. I made the heinous mistake of mentioning Id gone to see the Jay-Z/Coldplay gig at Wembley and received mocking sniggers. And Christina was responsible for some of them. Is this what shes really like? She isnt this snidey when its the two of us. I gritted my teeth and got through the night. The next day, I suggested she come to mine for dinner. But its Saturday night, she said. My mate Jemimas playing a gig in Dalston. And then theres this fashion thing in Kensington. So Ill just see you next week, yeah? Suddenly, I wasnt so sure if she would. FOLLOW ME ON TWITTER.COM/CHARLIE_LITE On the right track: Merly and Erik dined and then bet at the racecourse index.html2.html3.html4.html5.html6.html7.html8.html9.html10.html11.html12.html13.html14.html15.html16.html17.html18.html19.html20.html21.html22.html23.html24.html25.html26.html27.html28.html29.html30.html31.html32.html33.html34.html35.html36.html37.html38.html39.html40.html41.html42.html43.html