Exhaustion has overtaken my body and brain. Three weeks into a new job after having been a lady of leisure since Christmas, the 9 – 5.30-ish grind sandwiched between one hour commutes is a shock to the system. I’d be lying if I said there hasn’t been at least five minutes in every day where I’ve yearned to have my funemployment lifestyle back… No morning alarms, cups of tea in bed while I indulged in my morning dose of social media, then the rest of the day to do as I pleased; living the dream!
January was reserved for holiday mode while the start of February was all about blog makeover mode, but by the time mid February rolled round the reality sunk in – there were no wads of cash in our mattress, no big lottery wins, and no wealthy spinster aunt had come out of the woodwork to declare me her sole heir. It was time to start looking for a new job, which in London, is almost a part time job in itself.
I know that job hunting is tough, but after being spoilt with the good fortune of finding my first two contracts swiftly and painlessly, this fact temporarily slipped my mind. When a couple of weeks went by and no suitable roles had crossed my path, little seeds of doubt started to sprout. My perfectly relaxing days would be randomly punctuated with minor moments of worry – should I lower my expectations? Should I settle for less than I want? Or should I just be patient?
If you’re in a similar situation, my only advice would be to have a Plan B you’re comfortable with, work out how long you can last (mentally, financially, whatever…) until you resort to that Plan B, and stick with that deadline! I was patient, stuck with what I wanted and came up trumps so hang in there!
After all this, a celebration was definitely in order!
We both had the same spot in mind to toast my return to the land of paid employment and a certain someone getting peace and quiet back in the home office; we don’t normally like to stray too far from home on a Friday night so dinner at nearby Chez Bruce was an obvious choice. Nestled between a Jigsaw and an estate agent on a busy road by Wandsworth Common, from the outside it screams neighbourhood favourite, but it’s more refined than meets the eye.
Chez Bruce’s menu reads much like most fine dining restaurants with interesting ingredients and cooking techniques sprinkled throughout, however the dishes are far from being uptight or so small they disappear in a mouthful! My first course of hake sashimi with pickled rhubarb, pink peppercorns, shiso and ginger hit all the right notes of sharp, sweet, and salty whilst simultaneously managing to be one of the prettiest dishes I’ve devoured recently.
The speed by which the creamed cod brandade with Cornish mussel kievs, monk’s beard and basil oil disappeared from a certain someone’s plate probably says more than I could about how good the dish looked, smelled, and tasted. He was equally impressed with the chicken breast with king oyster mushrooms, potato gnocchi, grilled fennel and salsa verde but I was greedily won over by the size of the portion – no slithers of chicken dotted around the plate but a whole piece sitting proudly on top of the fluffy gnocchi.
Meanwhile I stuck with our mantra of eating fish on Fridays and ordered the Shetland salmon with smoked eels and potato bun, cucumber relish, beetroot, horseradish and dill, which was a bit of a gamble as while I love my salmon raw, smoked, or cured, properly cooked is a harder sell. I find it can be either greasy, bland, or both depending on the cooking technique. Honestly, I’m not really sure how they cooked theirs at Chez Bruce but I liked it a lot, particularly when contrasted with the no holds barred horseradish and the piquant cucumber. In case it wasn’t obvious, all dishes so far were a hit so could dessert make it a home run?
There’s no need for that tussle between your healthy conscience and sweet tooth at Chez Bruce. As the menu is priced for three courses, ordering dessert is a given, not a luxury; hooray, a restaurant after my own heart! Deciding on which one to order is the hard part as they’re quite generous with their options – I counted seven on the evening we dined and that’s not including the two cheese choices for those oddities who prefer to end on a savoury note.
A certain someone went straight for the chocolate pot with caramelised banana, salted dulche de leche, walnuts and rum; you might think his choice was based on those combination of flavours being a sure bet but I know that’s just one of the reasons. The other being that he knows his banana-hating girlfriend is unlikely to ask for a bite and for the first time in a very long time, there was no risk of being asked to share!
I finally settled on the passionfruit baked Alaska with mango, fresh coconut and lime; partly because the tropical flavours had me dreaming of sunnier days, but mostly because I thought a pretty baked Alaska might be perfect instagram fodder. I know you’re smirking at such silliness but since I’ve admitted to my instagram addiction before… I’m now shameless. It was every bit as dazzling to the eyes and the tastebuds as I had hoped and I was ecstatic my meringue-hating boyfriend didn’t ask for a taste!
We ended the celebrations with a digestif of port for her and whiskey for him and both agreed that the food and service at Chez Bruce was superb. I would have liked some extra touches like an amuse bouche or a palate cleanser but then again, for the price and the portions, this was exceptional value. Chez Bruce is timeless; the tablecloths are a flawless white, the cutlery is plain silver, the servers are attentive but not overwhelming, and the food doesn’t hide behind any gimmicks. This is clearly a winning formula as Chez Bruce is still going strong since it first opened its doors in 1995, like I said… timeless.
Have you been through the job hunting hullabaloo recently? How did you celebrate when you finally found the right role?!