Last week, my twin brother and I celebrated our birthday. It was a quite low-key affair, as we both spent the best part of our days at work; and now that we’re older, birthdays aren’t as exciting as they used to be. As a child, I would count the days down to the day where I could open a stackload of presents and eat a tonne of cake. Perhaps it’s just me, or adulthood seems a whole lot less cheery.
We decided to go out for a meal as a family, something we don’t do very often, what with everybody being busy at work or uni. I suggested that we go to one of the restaurants my dad receives discounts at with his The Times membership, as a way of reducing the cost (and so we could go somewhere a bit more upmarket than Pizza Express or our local Indian.) As a meal for six with drinks is never going to be cheap, my money-saving radar (honed by the student lifestyle) set itself buzzing.
I pre-booked a table at a pretty little Prezzo in Harpenden, with a familiar atmosphere and some nice ambient lighting and decor. The waitresses were Italian, making me feel more assured of the authenticity of the food (a clever ploy for the gullible consumer).
We ordered drinks and a starter of four flatbreads to share, with toppings including a tomato and proscuitto combination. I ordered an Aranciata cocktail, which tasted like a refreshing fizzy Fanta, consisting of rum and San Pellegrino. The males in the family had Peronis, which came in massive bottles and corresponding big glasses.
On to mains: I ordered the chicken and n’duja sausage pasta, with cherry tomatoes, peppers, and mozzarella. (N’duja has to be the most streetwise sausage name on the market.) It had a good chilli kick, and the waitress grated over a generous quantity of Parmesan cheese (although as a cheese lover, I would have preferred my own little bowl to scatter over.) My twin ordered a pulled pork pizza, upgraded to the VIP size, which was rather large; but no problem for him. The same couldn’t be said for me; unable to finish my pasta, I asked for a little box to take it home in.
There was no question of skipping dessert (not on my part, anyway.) Knowing full well that I was stuffed, but determined not to be beaten, I compromised with the best-of-both worlds option: a little slice of vanilla cheesecake with salted caramel sauce, and a hot chocolate. It was a wise choice, and the perfect finish to the meal; the cake was gooey and indulgent, but well balanced by the mildly sweet hot chocolate.
In total, we spent £130, saving £20 with The Times membership card. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience, and would reccomend Prezzo as a place to go on a family special occasion, or for a more intimate meal for two.