Photo credit: Wallpaper*
I have a long-anticipated theatre and dinner invite in Soho with my pal G. She booked tickets five months ago, it will, it MUST happen bar someone getting struck down by chronic piles / amnesia / insert bad thing. But first I have to get to Soho. It’s like negotiating release from a high security prison or an ever-repeating MC Escher diagram, where the guards are my wily two and 5-year-old. Getting past their shenanigans on a Tuesday afternoon is a draining and somewhat soul-destroying affair, and it goes something like this…
3:45pm Corrall whining kids into car with swimming things, travel potty, multiple changes of tiny clothes, toy selection and small bag for me. Neighbour asks if I’m travelling to Outer Hebrides. Drive to nearby sports centre.
4:00pm Only parking space available is under huge weeping willow tree which hangs over and engulfs car with branches and leaves. Drag kids and bags out of car through branches, leaves whipping our faces and legs.
4:10pm Tedious fractious bargaining begins where I entice kids in loud stressed voice to walk quickly to sports centre while trying to stop youngest from hurling himself into path of cars driving to and fro, or rolling in puddles.
4:20pm Attempt to get daughter to her swimming lesson while negotiating four visits to toilet, clothes and toys strewn on floor, some general disobedience involving running away and son plunging hands into overflowing sanitary towel bin. Think to myself: ‘I want to be in Soho’.
4:30pm At poolside dispatch daughter to lesson and have to endure son violently pronging dinosaur / helicopter into my face and thigh for 30 minute duration which is the only thing capable of distracting him from flinging himself headfirst into the water (he can’t swim) or doing an uncomfortable shit in the travel potty, which nestles attractively next to my feet.
5pm Lug son, potty, bags of toys and clothes and drag daughter off to get changed. Sweating like a pig and feel ageing process accelerating while son runs away repeatedly while daughter whines about wanting snacks, Moana songs via my phone and a pony. Roughly get her dressed.
5:30pm It has taken 15 long minutes to get the kids to walk 50 metres back to the car. Much swearing under breath. Have to crawl back through overhanging tree branches to insert kids back into car, leaves and twigs scratching our faces and necks.
6pm. Drive to station to wait for husband off train. Kids fight on back seat. Son makes offputting grunting noises, I fear the imminent arrival of a turd. Husband arrives in nick of time so that I can hand him car keys and run for train. Miss train.
7pm. Get to Soho wearing same clothes that I’ve been wearing all day (having failed to manage to get changed or even attempt any makeup or rearrangement of hair nest) and dive into nearest Pret to buy popcorn before I faint with hunger.
7:15pm Meet G and spend 10 intense minutes slagging off our Tuesday experience with our kids. Make haste into theatre to watch a play about a vivacious singleton who lives in a slovenly flat and all she has to think about is who she is going to shag next, navigate her existential crisis, a bit of bondage and, oh, is there any cheap wine in the fridge. Christ! The freedom! It’s like looking into ANOTHER WORLD.
9:30pm Get to Xu on Rupert Street and FAINT with relief and happiness. The food is delicious Taiwanese (from the team that launched Bao), the restaurant is all dark woods, tiny booths and ‘evokes 1930’s Taipei’ (as if I knew that on my own)…while making us feel as though we are sitting on the Orient Express. I don’t want to go home! Obviously we both go home.
This is what we ate:
Crispy lotus roots covered in peanut crack dust:
Squishy yummy dumplings with chive and sweet potato:
Cuttlefish toasts with cod roe – a bit like fish fingers but much posher and tastier:
Shou Pa Chicken – marinated chicken with drippings, ginger and spring onion, white pepper and chicken skin dip. OH MY GOD OH MY GOD OH MY GOD
Char siu Iberico Pork: this was like a giant smoky pork chop with awesome sticky molasses marinade.
Dessert was amazing. A brown sugar loaf cake with condensed milk and orange blossom caramel sauce. Could have eaten one five times the size:
Xu is a complete antidote to anything you have experienced with your kids during the day. It will wipe your memory, soothe your brow and re-programme you for the return to potties, shouting, chaos and lack of any personal space.
30 Rupert St
London W1D 6DL