Yesterday I took a trip over on the train from Nottingham to Leicester in order to take advantage of a Tesco voucher that I had upgraded from £5 to £20 to use at the chain restaurant, Cafe Rouge. There is no longer a Cafe Rouge in Nottingham otherwise I would have happily gone there.
I've been on a holiday break from work so I also thought it would be a good idea to take a fun trip on the train on a day when I would normally be working. I like Leicester's open market so I took along my video camera with the intention of filming around the fruit and veg areas and the fish and meat market there. The day was very windy so I was aware of the noise that the wind makes as it blows across the microphone on my video camera. This meant that, in the main, it was best that I kept myself under cover whilst filming.
The train journey is about half an hour on the fast London bound train and as went headed towards Leicester it was possible to see the river Trent in a state of flooding with torrents of brown swirling water and fields deep in water. Thankfully the floods aren't as bad up here than they are down South.
Like most routes from a main train station into a city centre the walk across Waterloo Way and down Granby Street towards the Leicester Market and Haymarket, it was lined with old buildings and closed shops with the Mercure Hotel as the only shining beacon. The areas I passed through were decidedly grubby and uninviting. A visitor coming into Leicester this way might well have a poor impression of the city.
I had a fun time videoing around the friendly Leicester market with my video camera held just above waist height not to attract attention and I think it worked well. What do you think of the video? At one of the stalls I bought some nutty brown mushrooms to add to my chicken stew that I made yesterday.
The Cafe Rouge branch was in a shopping centre called Highcross and when I got there I discovered the shopping centre to be a very modern mall and a complete contrast to the sadly neglected, wet and windy streets, outside. Now, I'm not a big fan of Malls as such and for all their glitz I find them to be soulless places full of fashion shops and the like. I asked for directions for the Cafe Rouge restaurant and was advised that it lay on the ground floor level in amongst a collection of other pleasant eateries. I got there about 11.30 am.
If I were a secret diner then I would give them top marks for the welcome and the service as well as the food. Getting a lunch half an hour earlier than they normally serve lunch was no problem and I went for the pâté maison (smooth chicken liver, shallot and Madeira pâté with slices of baguette) and the moules marinieres (classic mussels in a white wine, garlic and cream sauce with frites) with a glass of house white. The wine was nicely chilled and smooth, so smooth I had two glasses over lunch and felt quite mellow thank you. For dessert I chose Le Pot – a dessert housed in a recycled Bonne Maman compote jar and creamy with fruits and a hint of chocolate. According to the very good website for the Cafe Rouge business they have free wifi. I was too busy enjoying the food for that.
Like a lot of people I do enjoy people watching and was interested to see a couple of faces that if you dressed them up in appropriately different historic clothing they could have easily been from another age. The two faces were of a Russian looking woman in the far corner of the restaurant and a little girl with pigtails with quite an old fashioned face. Maybe it was the wine but I found the fanciful notion that the two of them had time travelled to this particular place and time, very interesting.
After lunch that cost a little over the £20 voucher I made my way back through the city and had a look around Curve theatre. This modern theatre has just celebrated its fifth birthday and had placed huge pictures from previous productions around its curved walls along with enthusiastic audience comments and some headlines from major newspapers. In my other guise as theatre reviewer I had been to see two shows there in the last year, Piaf and Chicago. The lanes opposite the theatre held my photographic attention for a while.
I returned to Nottingham on the train and then by bus to home where I settled down to re-watch the new series (part one) of The Two Hairy Biker's Asian Adventure. Part one is them in Hong Kong learning about authentic Chinese food. I love the guys way of presenting a food programme, it is fun and you feel you are actually learning something about another way of life and cuisine from normal people and the enthusiastic presenters.