It’s gone up a notch. Several notches.
The other week, I was invited to attend a wedding showcase there.
A what? A event for them to show off their party rooms and demonstrate why you should get married there. The sixth floor of the huge former Midland Bank — where the Bank’s management spent their days — has been dedicated to functions.
How bankers lived 100 years ago. The Chairman of the Bank had his own lift AND a separate dining room from the Directors’ dining room. Along one corridor wall were special cubby holes designed by Edwin Lutyens (*) no less, to house (wait for this) their top hats and canes! Like the building, the cupboards are listed (protected) so had to stay in place, but what a great story they make. (* Lutyens was the architect who designed the entire building.)
A group of us — press and bloggers — drank champagne (what a treat on a Friday lunchtime); ate a three-course meal in the boardroom and toured the other function rooms. More on the wedding bits later in the year, when I share it in the JC’s Brides magazine, but suffice to say, if Mr Fresser wanted to renew our vows (and we won the lottery) I’d be on the phone to The Ned quicker than he could heave himself up from bended knee.
We were served a three-course lunch — at a table laden with gorgeous flowers. Roasted pumpkin, creamy ricotta, bitter leaves and pungent truffle. Baskets of super-fresh artisan bread put paid to any carb-free fressing I may have envisaged.
Next up, perfectly cooked sea bass — shiny and moist — with an Indian twist. It was sitting on a pool of kaffir lime sauce and paired with spiced bulgur wheat peppered with chunks of dried apricot. My neighbour, mid-Veganuary, which meant she’d been served a lovely looking mushroom tart kept darting covetous glances at my fish. I didn’t know her well enough to share the sea bass love.The final course brought more orange pantones. Mandarin parfait with shortbread and chocolate ganache. A deconstructed (albeit far more sophisticated) Terry’s chocolate orange. The only complaint was that I could have eaten a second plateful.
The wedding rooms with cocktails, fizz, a DJ and decks in one and live band in another had a party vibe. A balcony (large enough for a crowd to party on) at one end of the building had views of the many sides of the City. Look left for the most modern buildings in the square mile and in the opposite direction looms a great chunk of London's history. After a week of grey skies and rain, the sun serendipitously emerged for our visit.
It was the perfect treat to end the week and I left with the same glow I get each time I visit The Ned. A Ready Brek-style halo of content diluted only with a smidge of lifestyle envy as I descended into Bank’s network of grimy tube tunnels to be whisked back to my day job as chauffeur, cook and head of laundry.
Now when is Mr Fresser going to propose. Again…