Friday, February 22, 2008

Dispensing With Valentine's Day

We got a taste of some miserable London weather in early January, but February has been surprisingly dry and pretty. This is normally where I would superstitiously knock on wood to prevent the good weather from fleeing, but in England you don't knock on wood, you touch wood. So there, I touched wood. Even the plants have noticed the nice weather - magnolias have started to bloom and crocuses are popping up in patches in the parks.

A crocus blooms in London

February is also the month of Valentine's Day. Most years we have avoided going out on Valentine's Day to avoid the craziness at restaurants, but we trend to go out to a nice dinner within the next week or so. Our first date was about a week after Valentine's day anyway, so we have usually opted to celebrate that instead. But this being our first Valentine's day in London, we decided to give it a shot on the 14th. We decided to go to The Dispensary, a gastropub that we regularly walk by but hadn't gotten around to trying.

The Dispensary

The Dispensary, as the name suggests, is housed in a beautifully restored 19th century dispensary that was built to provide medical treatment to the poor of East London. Now it provides beer and tasty treats in a gorgeous historic setting.

The dining area is on an open mezzanine that overlooks the main pub area, and you go up an amazing old wrought iron spiral staircase to get there. The atmosphere was suitably romantic for the occasion and it was amazingly mellow and peaceful for such a popular dinner night. English restaurants are not noted for amazing service, but the owners and staff here were really friendly and attentive. As nice as the restaurant was, the pub area looked really cozy and fun, so we'll definitely be back to try out the casual side too.

Tomorrow we hop on the train to Paris for a few nights. I still am amazed that you can get to Paris more quickly than you can get to Scotland - only two and a half hours from city center to city center. I have been brushing up on my French, which usually involves me flailing wildly and Maggie patiently repeating phrases until I give up. This process usually takes about 2 minutes. Or, wait, deux minutes. See, I'm really getting the hang of it.

1 comment:

RWAppleWannabe said...

Based on the crappy weather in London today, I can assume your touching wood failed and I now blame you for today's cloudy grayness. Thanks for the great description of the Dispensary, and have a great time in Paris!