Even at the very deepest darkest reaches recession, nothing stops new eateries opening on Cowley Road. This weekend was cold, I had a cold, it was time for comfort food and drink at Arbat, the new Russian place. The desserts are a delight, the food's very good (I had dumplings and Plov), there's a gluggabble wine, not too eye-wateringly expensive (although my taste in wine runs to the peasantish and should not be trusted), and a tasty vodka called Xortica that comes, chilled from the freezer, in a little cone-shaped glass. All very nice, but you'll need sides in addition to the mains (very good potato and possibly the least healthy vegetables I'd eaten since the 70s) and there's a dumpling size variation issue significant enough the waitresses alert you to it; they range without much warning from pancake-sized to gyoza-sized, but top out at four. Which is not a problem, of course, if you've ordered sides. It reminded me a bit of la Capannina -- hefty waits, friendly service, and that 70s sense of luxury that isn't real unless you feel it in time, wallet, and the amount you're capable of doing afterwards.
Afterwards, we watched a documentary about Krautrock. Interesting; Iggy Pop rambling about buying asparagus with the shoe-obsessed Kraftwerk boys, Damo Suzuki revisiting his glory days (and discovering he can't remember anything much), recollections of Eno coming in and stealing it all, some quite bitter. Jaki Liebezeit being told by a man on acid, "You must drum monotonous."
Sunday was the traditional pre-half-term IKEA trip. It was unremarkable, except that they had run out of forks, and
After the screwing and assembling, there was a quick visit to the new kittens of truecatechresis and squigglyruth, two little black kittens with white paws and patches whose tale of sorrow (suffice it to say that even if you're a farm cat, a roof beam is not a good place to have kittens) we had been told when we picked up Harlequin back in the summer. They seemed very cheerful. Kittens: rescued!
We'd spotted that Atomic Burger had just opened on the way to Arbat the night before, and dropped in to see if Cowley Road finally has a decent burger joint again. It has fairy lights, mock vintage sci-fi posters, classic Flash Gordon projected onto the back wall and bathrooms in a mondrian style, if you can imagine that. The burgers are good, too; I had an Audrey Hepburn (bacon egg), Tim's was a Dead Elvis (double bacon cheese). Next time I fancy a Pink Panther -- or maybe a Scorsese. Chilli-garlic chips and onion rings. Good coffee, pie and Mr Whippy ice-cream. While we ate, Flash was enslaved, lead a revolution, and then fought a series of Champions of Ming! while Dale fretted and Aura panted. So yes, decent burgers finally return to Cowley Road. With added Sci-Fi packaging!
That was pretty much it, apart from the drama when Harlequin shed her collar, and was insufferably smug, until we found it, in a place where Tim and I had already looked, twice. Kittens.