Last night was a girls night out at Shampers a restaurant and wine bar in Soho. There we were seven girls all glammed up for a night out for our friend Adina’s birthday.

I was more conscious of the fact that we were such a gaggle of girls as I had just read a recent article by Frank Bruni the famed New York Times critic called “Old Gender Roles With Your Dinner“. In the article he discusses how some gender roles still persist, such as the expectation that women should be served first at a table and that a group of women will sometimes not get as good service as a group of men as it is expected that will not tip as much. I have to admit I do find it amusing in restaurants when waiters always give the wine list to MTV boyfriend and even when I then order the wine they will still give it to MTV boyfriend to taste. One of the funniest things I have ever seen is a restaurant we ate at in Positano, Italy where the only prices on the menu were on the version given to MTV boyfriend, my menu was price free as obviously you did not want to worry the little lady about such a thing as cost!

There was no MTV boyfriend or boy of any sort last night, however that did not bother our waiter at all. The service was the best service I have had in London outside of a high end restaurant and whether it was because we were all girls or in spite of it I suppose I will never know. Our waiter was incredibly charming and looked after us as if we were the only patrons of the busy restaurant. Clearly we were not, the place was packed. Shampers is a small and intimate bistro. The atmosphere is cozy with original art works for sale on the walls and a bar at the rear surrounded by racks of wine. Wine is a specialty here (the list runs to 150 bottles including 40 by the glass) and our waiter was very helpful with recommendations for both wine and food.

On the basis of one of these recommendations I had the warm goats cheese salad to start. A generous round of rich, creamy goats cheese was served on a bed of tangy lettuce in a magical equilibrium. Grilled squid was fresh and crisp although perhaps slightly overcooked.

My main was a chicken roulade with dauphinois potatoes and broccoli. The chicken was free-range and still moist and succulent. It was wrapped in prosciutto and served with generous lashings of decadent dauphinois potatoes. I am pretty sure there was half a tub of cream on that plate but it was delicious. Char grilled venison with mash and mushrooms was a generous serving and had an earthy richness.

We had no room for dessert and as our waiter cleared our plates he asked if there was occasion. We said that we were celebrating Adina’s birthday and he promptly returned with a lovely South Australian Riesling in a gift bag. He instantly won himself and Shampers a place in all our affections forever. Contrary to those women cited in Frank Bruni’s article we left a generous tip.
Details: 4 Kingly Street, Soho W1B 5PE (Ph 0207437 1692)

Damage: reasonable


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