I first met Grishma as my friend Foram’s sister. She was leaving London just as I began my love affair with the city. Not before, and never since have I met anyone so intensely certain of where her destiny lay. I don’t know how easy or difficult it was for her, to shun the opportunities of London to move back to Bombay, but she did it with the glee of a child discovering a new toy. She said her angels had shown her the way. Yes, Grishma believes in angels. She sees them in lost pennies on forgotten sidewalks, and wisps of white feathers floating in the air. She even sees angels in the unexpected harsh words of close friends.
I believe in angels too. Only, I am less generous with the universe and need my angels to be tangible, loud and present. I need them to stamp their feet until I heed their call. Like when a near-stranger suggested I take a break from another Sunday at the office, to take time out for myself. He called back an hour later to make sure I wasn’t still at my desk. I needed an angel to remind me about The Important, not just The Urgent.
Opera Tavern is the perfect solution to a dreary, freezing January. It is brand new, but with the mood of a trusted old friend. It may be just me, but the sight of an open kitchen in a restaurant wins my instant affection. There is a beautiful “proper” restaurant one flight up but I chose to dine at the bar instead. Its a lovely room – dark wooden furniture, high ceiling, stools at the window to watch Covent Garden go by, and the inviting aroma of very good food.
The charming Emmanuelle wasted no time – smile, welcome, Prosecco, menu. With some help from him I got the ordering out of the way:
Crispy pigs ears (£3) – my favourite bar snack
Iberico pork skewers (£2.95) – yummy, but tiny
Mini Iberico pork and foie gras burger (£5.50) – gorgeous! The foie gently tickles exposes itself as you get on with the burger
Salsify salad with chestnuts & potatoes (£5.50) – an absolutely stunning dish
Seabass carpaccio (£7.50) – avoidable
Grilled salt cod (£7.50) – now you’re talking!
Opera Tavern has an extensive wine list and I settled for what they call a baby Amarone – a chocolatey Ripasso, La Salsette 2008 (£10.50).
As I nibble on the pigs ears in-between courses, I had to think more about my angels. Recently, they have been forcing me to change – or is it that they are trying to make me accept the change I am surrounded by? If this was five years ago or even two years ago I would have jumped ship. Research will show you that when most of us come face to face with our fears our instinct is to walk out the door we walked in through. Committing ourselves to the slightest change is more frightening than living with a bad situation. I have been so vehemently faithful to my view of the world that even a gentle suggestion of change put me in a state of panic.
I think its time I let my angels show me the emergency exit out of this fire. There is another way, and it doesn’t have to be scary.