building of the week #7, Wembley Stadium, HA9 (aka The Foul Throw Stadium)


the shopping basket handle, er, arch

I’m cheating I know, mixing up posts and all sorts.  I’m also leading this building of the week thread down a distinctly footballing alley.  I make no apologies for this though.  Wembley Stadium is a building isn’t it?  A blinking expensive one, and one that is still finding it’s feet as the new “home of football” most certainly.  But you cannot deny that it is a building and a mightily impressive one at that.  And so I turn this building of the week piece into a multiple threaded post covering Selfridges, foul throws, Gordon Ramsay ploughman’s lunches and England’s slightly painful victory over Ukraine.

My day actually started at the Star Cafe in Mitcham, venue for my now bi-weekly breakfasts with my ex knowledge buddie and occasional cab driver, Gary.  Suitably loaded up with carbs, I picked up BEM (Best England Mate) in South Wimbledon, and so started our quest for the new England shirt.  Having made the decision a few days earlier that despite, or is that because of, Alan Green’s bluster about how ridiculous the new shirt was we wanted it.  It’s becoming part of the ritual isn’t it, isn’t it?  First stop was no good as BEM only deals with long sleeves, so the decision was made to head for Oxford Circus to get the shirts.  There’s loads of sports shops around there aren’t there?  Not if you head west from Oxford Circus there aren’t.  Nearly at Marble Arch, our need for refreshment was beginning to overtake our need for the new shirt.  A quick google on the phone didn’t help much, but then there stood Selfridges in front of us and in we went.  Surely they don’t sell footy shirts?  Well, for future reference everyone, they do.  And long sleeved ones at that.  So a quick rush into the changing rooms to compare bellies & breasts (copyright BEM for that line), quick chat with very friendly assistants (why do I always have to deal with Spurs fans in these circumstances?) and we were sorted.


ooh, lovely tiling

So now, those bellies required filling and The Warrington Hotel beckoned.  Arriving at about 3pm after a slight detour, those roads never look the same from a bus or on foot – don’t assume a cab driver can get lost, that would never happen, we entered the Warrington to the sight of a completely empty bar.  The sun was shining outside, we had 3 hours minimum before we needed to leave for the football, can life get any better?  Drinks were drunk, food was eaten and nonsense was, almost certainly, talked.  Keeping me amused through all of this was BEM’s ongoing crisis over being booked to go and visit the Taj Mahal on the only day that it’s shut.  What

one lion on the wall

one lion on the wall

about the food at this Gordon Ramsay outpost then?  Well the ‘proper’ food didn’t start until 6pm so we went with a bit of this & that from the bar snacks menu.  Pork & Veal pie, ploughman’s and some pickled cockles kept the wolf from the door.  Not too pricey (£6.50 each for the pie & ploughman’s) and all very tastey, all with very nice pickles – you can’t beat a good pickle.


trying using the whole pitch lads

After missing the first 10 minutes of the last England game we went to, we weren’t going to make the same mistake again, oh no – no way.  Leaving in plenty of time, we were only 7 stops from Wembley Central for god’s sake, we hopped on a tube that almost seemed to be waiting for us.  Perfect, we’ll have time to spare at this rate.  But no, tube only went to Queen’s Park as did the next 2 tubes to arrive.  Rumours circulated than an overground train would soon take us up to Wembley Central but the station staff seemed more concerned about getting some posters up to Wembley, than telling us what was going on.  I mean, there’s only 90,000 people trying to get to Wembley, stopping tube after tube really helps doesn’t it?  Don’t panic though, a tube did appear and off we finally went.  After a slightly panicked walk and an assumption that we had actually missed the start of the game, we were delighted to find that we actually saw the KO and had excellent seats only 10 rows from the front.  Within seconds of the game starting it became apprarant that I was sitting next to yet another numpty.  “Foul frooooww ref” was his only comment on the game the whole way through.  When a foul throw was given in the 2nd half he couldn’t have been more pleased if he’d just won the lottery.  But overall,the atmosphere seemed quite lively and England played pretty well in the first half,

beckham free-kick goes,er, wide

beckham free-kick goes,er, wide

without really taking the game by the throat.  I won’t bore you anymore with game, but England made hard work of winning and even fucking Shevchenko managed to score against us – jesus.  A win is a win though and a great day was rounded off by a couple more pints, a massively long journey home on the tube, being told by a chinese man that my flies were undone, a KFC and 2 cans of Kronenberg just to finish things, and me, off.  Bed at 2am and most of Thursday written off, marvellous.


ramsay – royal hospital road

royal-hospital-roadI know, I know.  Gordon hardly needs the publicity does he?  What with opening a new restaurant every 3.2 seconds and juggling various extra curricular activities (nudge, nudge, wink, wink) he’s hardly out of the news.  But if you have to talk about eating in London, you may as well start at the top.  And that’s what leads me to Royal Hospital Road.  Recently knocked off its perch at the top of many a top ten list by Chez Bruce (more on that later), it still holds its place at the top for me.  I can’t claim to have eaten at many “top” restaurants in London but of the ones I have, Ramsay in Royal Hospital Road stands out by a mile.  His original solo project, it is the perfect dining experience.  On the 2 visits I have had there, I cannot think of anything negative to say.  The only slightly perturbing aspect was the feeling that I was followed to and from the toilet, which I hope was just slightly over attentive service.  My first visit was for lunch to celebrate Mrs. Cabbies & my 5th wedding anniversary.  On a balmy August day, we ignored that fact that I didn’t have a job (I was on the verge of starting the knowledge) and had a great meal, with fantastic service and a reasonable price.  Choosing from the set menu, our bill was around £100, which I think is bloody good for what you get.

royal-hospital-road-iSo having had our appetites whetted, quite literally, we were ready for the full on dinner, tasting menu experience.  Unfortunately, due to my knowledge commitments, this had to wait until 2006, nearly 3 years after that lunch.  I had it all lined up and booked for the day I did my final knowledge appearance when, if successful, I would be handed my green badge.  A bit of a risk as that final appearance is not a formality.  But with the suburbs duly passed and green badge in hand, we were clear to celebrate in style.  And what style it was.  Needless to say for a Michelin starred restaurant, the food was exemplary.  But what sticks in the mind more, from both my visits, is the service.  Attentive, of course, but not overly fussy and all the staff make you feel very comfortable, which is a vital ingredient in any dining experience.  I won’t bore you with what we had; I can’t remember most of the details anyway.  But it was a wonderful experience and, for me anyway, good value for money.  Some people will tell you that £300 for a meal is ridiculous but in the context of London, and the fact that you can easily pay £100+ for theatre or football tickets alone, it’s worth it.  But I’m not sure about this Chez Bruce thing.  Mrs. Cabbie & I ate there years ago and I really can’t remember anything about the place.  Not that it was a bad experience, just that is was entirely unmemorable, which is not the highest of recommendations.  But the great & the good of London seem to be voting it the best restaurant ever right now, so maybe it’s improved a lot.  Well, whatever, Ramsay is the best, end of.

Here is a link to the wesite if you can’t work out where Ramsay – Royal Hospital Road, is.