Topolobamba, Glasgow

‘Do you want a wee pudding m’love?’

My waiter at Topolabamba, Jamie, was an absolute gem and said the words above in his thick Scottish accent with a giant smile and twinkle in his eye. I’d spent a long day sightseeing – my phone said I’d walked 11km – and as I was parked in a corner on my table for one I was glad of a friendly, welcoming face. The restaurant was buzzing on a Saturday night with tables bulging with food and excitable people knocking back cocktails. I loved the atmosphere and colourful lighting, which went from blue to red to green throughout the evening.

As I sat down Jamie introduced himself and asked if I’d like a regular or large white wine, emphasising the word ‘large’ and giving me a look of ‘it’s Saturday night’. I grinned and said yes, and gave him my food order: shredded beef tostadas, crispy fish tacos and crispy Pasilla king prawn tacos. You’ll have to forgive my weird menu choices, I have a thing for fried things from the sea. It was only after I ordered that I realised I’d missed out using the mini Ikea pencil to circle my choices. Everyone loves a tiny pencil.

I sat back and opened my book just as a bottle of tequila landed on my table. After my initial horror I was relieved to find it only had tap water in it. The last time I drank tequila was on my hen do and the less that’s said about that, the better. My beef tostadas came out first, swiftly followed by my fish and prawn tacos.

Everything was flavoursome but boy was it spicy. It was at this point that I realised the menu had a heat key, which I had completely ignored. As I finished up, my mouth was on fire and as Jamie asked ‘do you want a wee pudding m’love’ all I could do was nod and point at the Horchata ice cream, which he said tasted like Caramac bars.

It arrived pronto in a deep blue bowl that looked like a flower pot. The first bite was like diving into a pool when you’ve been sat in the sun too long. The ice cream was soothing, creamy and indeed tasted like Caramac bars. I asked for the bill as I was finishing the final scoop and it arrived with a smiley face on it.

I don’t know if Jamie was being nice to be in order to earn a tip, either way he was delightful and made my solo dinner all the more enjoyable. I asked him if he got his tips and he said yes. The food at Topolabamba was tasty and I’d like to go back with a big group of people so I can try more of the menu. My takeaway this trip though will be Jamie, who made me feel right at home.

King William Pub, Bath

‘We call you DFL’s round here’.

Nice to meet you too, new pub friend. DFL means ‘down from London’ and we couldn’t really defend ourselves on that one. Our new pub friends softened up once we told them we had got married yesterday. After a nice chat about where else we should go for dinner in Bath (whilst I surreptitiously took photos of their caramel dog) we tucked into our Sunday roast.

The King William Pub in Bath was the first place we found on Tripadvisor. We’d arrived at our accommodation early that day and taken an extended trip to Morrisons whilst the cleaner cleaned. As dinner time approached we couldn’t face more decision-making having spent the past eleven months making wedding related decisions. It had a nice picture, high ratings, was a 5-minute drive away and had free parking (on Sundays) across the road.

The turquoise frontage was inviting and we walked in to a quirky pub with equally quirky looking clientele and staff. We were seated in a corner and took all of 3 seconds to agree that it was Sunday and the only suitable food for two tired newlyweds was a fat roast dinner. It did not disappoint.

The Yorkshire pudding was the size of my face and it harboured a roast potato inside.  Juicy roast chicken and an assortment of veg were sat in the richest and silkiest gravy. It hinted dark chocolate and I made a mental note to ask the chef what was in it but in the end, I completely forgot to ask. My husband of 24 hours and I didn’t speak for 20 minutes whilst we gorged, meeting eyes every now and then to agree, by grunting, that it was ridiculously delicious.

Neither of us could particularly move once we’d finished but the dessert menu was placed in front of us and the words ‘sticky toffee pudding’ leapt into our eyes. Our favourite. Now, we could have shared. We’d literally said ‘all that I have I share with you’ in our vows the day before, and we were stuffed. But no. One each please, kind waiter.

This sticky toffee was Bruce Bogtrotter enormous and it sat in a puddle of shiny toffee sauce and rapidly melting vanilla ice cream. It was deeply sweet and stuck to every corner of our mouths. We were not defeated and our tummies were fit to burst once we’d finished. I can’t describe the feeling of being so content from eating. Suffice to say we went back to our Air B&B and had a wild night of sleeping.

Over the next two days in Bath we did go to a couple of our new pub friends’ recommended eateries.  We ate our bodyweight in steak and chips at Hudson Steakhouse and drank cocktails with unpronounceable ingredients in a Prohibition style, shadowy cornered basement bar called The Dark Horse. I felt squiffy after one, which I think is a good sign especially when the price of each drink was in double figures. Our only misdemeanour was (our choice, should have stuck to local knowledge) heading to Thaikun for dinner one evening – we had a nice time, but the food was pricey, ok tasting and the décor tried much too hard to be authentic. We were trying to evoke our honeymoon to Thailand later this year but agreed to leave our culinary Thai adventures until we are actually in Thailand rather than Bath.

Singtong Burger House, Leather Lane, London

‘I’m being good, the wedding is 6 weeks away’. 

I’d just picked up our wedding rings from a jeweller in Hatton Garden and wondered what to do for lunch. It was the beginning of a half day off work and I was in a really good mood. I walked through the food market on Leather Lane, each stall sizzled and popped and gave off delicious smells. I dodged the queues of city workers and passed giant pans of paella, pizza slices and gourmet kebabs but couldn’t find what a wanted. SINGTONG BURGER HOUSE. I made a beeline to a small corner restaurant with lots of guys sat in the window stuffing their faces and chugging cans of Diet Coke.

I ordered the cheeseburger, not particularly adventurous considering they do a rather fabulous sounding chicken burger, but I was in the mood for greasy beef and fries. I got the lunch meal deal – burger, fries and a drink for £10. I sat at the bar and a few minutes later a try landed in front of me with fries spilling out a bag and an oozing cheesy burger.

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It felt kind of wrong having been in a fancy Hatton Garden jewellers 10 minutes earlier and now I was taking mammoth bites into my cheeseburger. I’d text my husband-to-be about 8 minutes earlier saying ‘I’m finding lunch in the Leather Lane market, I’m being good, the wedding is 6 weeks away’. By ‘good’ I clearly meant good at finding somewhere incredible to eat, and at that I was successful.

I marched off half an hour later, fancy wedding rings safely in my bag, slathering my hands in sanitizer and a big smile on my face.