You look in the reflective glass of the swing door, make last-minute adjustments to your tie and run your fingers round the collar of your new suit jacket. Not bad you think. You open the swing door and step into an attractive foyer with easy chairs. The first thing that hits you is the smell of delicious food from tables all around and your mouth instantly begins to water.

At the desk a tidy middle-aged lady asks you if you have booked. You nod a smile and she looks at you. She tilts her head as if she is wondering what’s so amusing because for the life of her she just can’t see it.

She shows you to a table and apologises because it is not your usual one in the corner by the lamp. You assure her it’s fine – but it isn’t really. She can’t see this table is right next to an office party which is getting a bit worse for wear by now, but you can. You sit down, but your eyes don’t leave the party table and you raise an eyebrow as one of the girls stands up right in front of you. She obscures your view, which incidentally is soon filled by her frilly green panties, as she stoops to pick up the fork she dropped. You look away and scrunch up your eyes. You’d have thought wearing a dress that short she’d at least wear underwear appropriate for the occasion – and for her size – one which didn’t corkscrew your eyes out when she bent down and shoved her big bum in your face.

It’s no different in the area your eyes have been averted to, where two unruly siblings are demanding more Coke and screaming when they don’t get their parents’ attention. And when they do they’re told in no uncertain terms to shut up while their elders finish their strident conversation. Do these folk not realise they’re in a public place and their collective raucousness is drowning out normal peoples’ conversations? Probably not.

Your eyes swing back to the fiesta, where presently the heavily mascaraed hostess is loudly challenging her invitees to a drinking game. Oh good grief! Yet more upheaval. You raise yourself up to see if there’s anywhere else to sit, just as the long-awaited waitress approaches, looks right in your face and asks for your order. You sit down again and look blankly at her. Horrified.

Now you’re in a predicament. Do you move and wait another half hour? Or do you order, eat, pay and leave as quickly as you possibly can? A veritable quandary for you – and now the waitress is tapping her pencil on her pad, with a pained look on her face.

You order. Your food arrives surprisingly quickly and you begin to eat. Delectable prawns and avocado, succulent lamb and duchesse potatoes with white wine, courgette and leek sauce, followed by mouth-watering oranges à la Grand Marnier and Irish Coffee. Worth waiting for.

Between courses your mood begins to temper. You munch and glance to the left. Suddenly the socialites next door seem to have calmed down and are chatting amicably amongst themselves. Eye-swing to the right. The two youngsters are now in deep concentration, colouring their favourite Disney picture – Anna and Elsa illuminated in rainbow neon – with their stubby pencil crayons. You sigh.

A beaming waitress offers you liqueurs – on the house of course.

You loosen the knot of your tie, undo your collar and lean back in your seat. Your hands stroke the back of your head and a self-satisfied grin creeps across your face. Maybe – just maybe – the Ritz is not so bad after all!food2520critic3

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