• hiawynoram

Night on the Town - ahem... Shepherds Bush Green

Updated: Aug 6, 2019

It started as a promise. I was at a pop-up lunch at the amazing little wine bar/restaurant just off Shepherds Bush Green and close to Westfield, called Albertine. It is owned by a friend. She and a work partner were testing out a new food adventure which I won't name prematurely, and a LOT of their friends were there. In the rush and the crush I was put at a table with my friend's co-owner. We had a delightful time and as I was was leaving he insisted on paying for me - be gracious and not so English, he said when I tried to resist. So I accepted graciously and he said, well, the condition is that you come one night to Albertine (where I had not yet been and should have out of loyalty if nothing else.) So I promised I would and Steve and I duly booked a table for a summery Friday night a few weeks later. Well, Steve is still a rocker at heart. We do not go out to dinner as much as we used to in London, so now he's away with it and actually wearing a suit, very casually of course, with an open necked shirt, no tie. There is a little frisson of looking forward to being out on the town. We catch the bus, the famous 94 to Piccadilly Circus from close to my house, for all the seven minutes it takes to arrive at Shepherds Bush Green, busy as hell but by no means, no means at all, glamorous. We are early for our table so the Old Rocker insists we go for a drink first. The Defectors Weld, almost opposite Albertine, is chosen. We step inside and the cacophony from the young making high-decibel merry of a Friday night just about knocked me off my feet. It was like a wall of sound in hob-nailed boots coming straight at my brain. I look at Steve with wide eyes meant to communicate no way, José. He smiles sweetly and ignores, going straight to the bar to order, almost playing air guitar with glee as he waits to be served. I wander off into the cavernous back area, believing it will be quieter... but not a single seat or table is free. The only empty table is back in the main bar right under the speakers blaring out today's rock. Steve comes back with our drinks. He has got himself a Moretti beer, reminding him of our trip to Sicily where he had it first and loved it. He's happy. I pretend I am and we manage a little conversation despite me not being able to hear myself think. The minutes pass and it's time for our table. We cross the road and have an intriguing time. The Albertine has incredibly lovely wines - by the bottle, the glass and to buy to take home. Many of them are organic and nearly sulphate-free. We ordered a Muscadet which was fresh and delicious, ate from the small menu that is all about home-cooking, watched as the young couple at the table next to ours ordered a large cheeseboard, one of the specialities, to eat with their wine - as in the classic concept of cheese and wine - and then Steve ordered a glass of a red rioja which was, he said, very good. Having paid the bill (not small,) we wandered out into the hectic madness of Shepherds Bush Green on a Friday night

only to encounter what we thought was some kind of political protest. Cars with flags flying and hooters blaring where whizzing round the Green. A band of about 20 young men with flags painted on bodies were running towards us. Unsure, but not to be intimidated, I stopped one and asked him what it was all about. He grinned happily and said 'the Afcon, the African Nations Cup, we won. Algeria won!!!' With all this late-night exuberance around us, the Old Rocker would not accept my objections to a 'night cap' in another pub. So, a second wall of sound had to be braced as we entered the Sindercome Social. The under-thirties, maybe even under-forties - can't tell these days - were here in force too. We entertained ourselves storytising about the +/-fifteen at the table in front of us, imagining what they were doing out together and who was after who, or hoped to go home and make out with who, before giving in to the night on the town being over and returning home where we talked until gone 2.00 in the morning as we used to do when we were young. http://albertine.london/

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