So it's winter, and I need a new coat. My old one is six years old and past its best, but it fit all my specifications. Finding one that is just as good won't be an easy task. I'd already ordered one from a catalogue, but it turned out to be no good.
With that one sent back, it was now time to hit the department stores. The first place I went was Elys in Wimbledon. After searching what seemed to be an endless amount of fashionable but utterly useless coats, I finally found one that would actually protect you from the elements. It was perfect. Almost perfect. The zip didn't come all the way up to the chin. I asked the lady to put it aside while I went to Debenhams. At first it did not look like there was anything appropriate, but just as I was leaving, I found one that fit the bill.
After that I went back to Elys to tell the lady that I had found something else. By this time I had been trying on for a while, and was now hot and thirsty. I needed a cold drink. As I was in Elys already, I went to the third floor where they have their cafe.
It had been along time since I'd been to Elys Cafe. I used to go there all the time, but you know how it is. You find somewhere you like, and then they change the menu. I would go back every now and then to see if there was anything that interested me, but there never was.
This time, however, I was in luck. They had a new menu with some very nice things on offer. These included a variety of jacket potatoes such as sweet chilli chicken, tuna with black pepper mayo, and one with a prawn and salmon filling. These were between £5.25 and £5.95. There were also the option of afternoon tea at £8.25, a few pub meals (steak and ale pie, beer battered cod), and chef specials (a soup, pasta, or chilli of the day).
Although the jacket potatoes sounded good, it was late afternoon and the cafe had stopped serving hot meals. I therefore looked at their range of hot and cold sandwiches. I was most interested in their panini, which were £5.45 each. The selection included spicy meatballs with mozzarella, tuna with mozzarella, goat's cheese with red peppers, and the one I chose was garlic and rosemary field mushrooms with ham and brie. The only problem was figuring out which panino was which, as none of them were labelled.
The cafe itself has a wide open space with large tables. That is always a bonus for me. I hate it when cafes cram the area with as many tiny tables as possible, so you hardly have room for your plate.
There is also a lounge area with leather settees and coffee tables for those who just want to sit back, chat, and watch some telly. I'm usually not keen on televisions in cafes, but since it was in the lounge, with the sound turned off, it was not a problem.
Once I was seated, it did not take long for my freshly toasted panino to arrive. At first I was disappointed to see that the healthy side salad they used to serve had been replaced by a unhealthy portion of crisps, but on further inspection, I discovered they were not crisps at all, but dried out parsnip and beetroot which had been lightly seasoned. Usually I don't like parsnips but these tasted delicious, and I appreciated it more than I would have a salad.
As for the panino, the mushrooms were excellent, and although it was not the finest brie in the world, it was definitely satisfactory for a department store cafe.
While I was buying my lunch I spotted a few desserts that had caught my eye, so after finishing, I went back for a closer look. They had seasonal cakes and pastries like plum bread, and a rather intriguing Viennese mince pie that you could buy to take away or could eat in with one of their festive puddings (which included jingle berry pie, chocolate gateaux, and, the mother of all, apple pies). But there was one that I just had to try: Christmas pudding cheesecake for £2.85. What on earth was this going to be like?
Well, I'll tell you what, it certainly tasted of Christmas pudding. The speckled delight had whole raisins and was flavoured with mild spices. I also detected a hint of alcohol, but as there was no warning (in case kids wanted a piece), I'm not quite sure if it were my imagination.
After my enjoyable meal, Elys is back on my cafe roster.