Tredwells & Beautiful – The Carole King Story: A Birthday To Remember.
A while back, sitting in my mums back garden it dawned on me that this year my mum would hit the grand old age of 70. I’m probably going to be a little biased when I say she doesn’t look it but that’s not really the point. 70!.. SEVEN – OH. It just didn’t seem possible. My mum couldn’t be 70, my mum was always supposed to be 40, 22 – 25 years ahead of me. I would then remain comfortably in my mental state of 18. It’s frightening knowing that one day she might not be here. It’s even more worrying that she may not know just how much she is loved by all of us, family and friends.
With lots going on this year my sister SB was the first to come up with some suggestions on what to do to celebrate. Some options realistic/or otherwise included:
A long weekend in either Cornwall, on the Isle Of Wight, or at Potters in Norfolk.
Afternoon Tea ( or lunch ) on the Orient Express.
There were countless things to be fair, all of which I’m sure our La -Dee -Da would have enjoyed but the bottom line was, somewhere along the line these things had to be paid for. After two or three secret gatherings the trio of younger Rollos, that’s my sister, brother and moi, came to the conclusion that on a number of occasions our mother had mentioned the Carole King musical Beautiful. I don’t mind a sing – a – long, but I had no idea who Carole King was I admit. We did however all agree that it was affordable and something we could all chip in to pay for, maybe we’d take her out for dinner first. If we could keep it hush hush then even better.
The musical itself is based at the Aldwych Theatre on The Strand in central London. After numerous calls we ended up gathering a total of 19 hearty souls including the birthday girl. Getting the tickets was surprisingly easy. Even more pleasing was the deal the theatre runs for groups of 10 or more. Premium seats at a very reasonable rate. Tickets were purchased, pretty much all together and stage one was complete. The golden oldie had no eye deer.
So far so good. Then came a secondary issue. I’ve touched on this before in past blogs, that people can be extremely fussy when it comes to what they choose to eat. I have no issues with that at all, but it did make it essential to find the right place for food. Somewhere exceptional, memorable, but that gets the basics right most importantly. Having been lucky enough in the last few months to eat up in London a few times I did have a couple of ideas. One place that we had visited was called Tredwells. We went there on a Sunday and I had heard beforehand tremendous musings about the Tredwells Roast dinner.
I have to say it lived up to the hype. A sharing dish for two, it was a knockout. I do love a roast dinner, and the Tredwells roast was about as good as it gets! After discussing this with my siblings it was decided that We couldn’t go too far wrong choosing Mr. Wareings restaurant in Covent Garden. I mean who doesn’t enjoy a traditional British Sunday roast!
My point of contact at the restaurant was Stefan. Admittedly a little cheekily I asked if it was possible to do the roast dinners for our group on my mums birthday, which fell on a bank holiday Monday. I was a bit concerned that this may have been a no – no but thankfully they agreed to my request. Credit where it’s due Stefan certainly earns his money. He was incredibly helpful with everything. In fact all of the staff I spoke to were extremely friendly and accommodating.
On the day of our mothers birthday our group met up “secret squirrel” at my brothers. The old girls face was a picture as she arrived with my sister. 15 of us jumped on the minibus, and took off towards the big smoke. Mum was still oblivious to where she was going. We arrived at Covent Garden after about an hour. During the trip we had gone through an infinite amount of versions of “happy birthday to you”. Firstly it was sung to the birthday girl. Then it was my niece who got the HBTY treatment. I should add it was also her birthday, RB being a sprightly 22. Then it was the turn of my mums best friend Lucie. It was to be her birthday the following week. My other niece, a 2nd RB, got the HBTY choir chorus. My turn next, middle of June. Then my 3rd niece, end of May.
By the time we got to Lucies hubby, whose birthday is in September or thereabouts ( I think ), we were on the edge of the west end. Hopping off the bus into the hustle and bustle of Cov Garden my mother had not a scooby. We made our way over to The Roundhouse pub, a 50 yard walk from Tredwells. We were to meet the last 4 of the group here. My mums sister, accompanied by a niece and her daughter. Last but not least was JD. A nephew and his good lady. It was quite funny, him sitting there, 5 yards from my mum, her totally oblivious to him even being there. It wasn’t expected but her face as she realised was a joyful picture.
Finally it was time to make our way over to the restaurant. For a high profile event ( family wise ), I was relatively ( boom boom ) relaxed. So many things could go wrong. For a start the cake my sister had ordered hadn’t turned up. Thankfully though that little troublesome moment was as bad as it got. The cake made its appearance later. We marched in, and up the stairs onto the mezzanine floor. The table was well spaced out with plenty of room in a very pleasant setting. I had taken an executive decision ( I will admit probably for the first time in my life ) and had chosen starters to share. Give people too much choice and it could all go wonky, decide for them and it’s all they can have. It gets eaten or it doesn’t.
I chose, ( or we ) chose to go with a platter to share of Pork Sliders, Chorizo Jam, Charred Bread and Glazed Chicken Wings. I’m guessing that the starters were gleefully accepted with a large thumbs up judging by the empty boards that the food was served on. I did have a little dabble myself. I can very much understand the reasoning for putting the individual items together. They go together like … ( I was going to try and sing a line from the Grease film but I can only remember Chang Chang and wop bam boo ), so instead I will suggest that as single plates the food was lovely, but as a dish served together… It was like being hit by Mike Tyson… A knockout , although an altogether far more pleasant experience.
I couldn’t stop eating the wings. As for the Chorizo Jam, big tick in the starter box. If you do go to Tredwells and have a starter, try the Sliders. If the Wings are your auntie, then these bad boys are definitely your favourite uncle. I believe on the whole the Chicken Wings were the favourite component. The meat just fell off and you could sit there eating them all day. Well you could if you didn’t have a main course, dessert and musical to get through.
I’ve waxed lyrical in a previous blog about about just how good this roast dinner is as a main course. Simply put its the best I’ve eaten barring her indoors and my own mother, ( I have to put that as GB will read this at some point ). There isn’t too much food, but there is more than enough. The spuds are about as good as they come, and the veg is varied and cooked to perfection. Minor issue was Tredwells didn’t have extra Elmers, but did try to rectify it by offering up some mash. It’s no substitute though. As its a sharing dish you do have interaction, and it does get people talking. It’s not just a roast dinner believe me, it’s the perfect roast dinner. The beef is immense, the chicken magnificent. My cousin JD isn’t the smallest of humans, but after gnawing on the wings he struggled to get through the beef. The most triumphant achievement though, the birthday girl was happy!
The desserts were varied. Some had the luxurious Chocolate Brownie. Extremely rich, possibly a fraction too much. They couldn’t finish it. I had the Gin’n’Tonic Cheesecake with a few others, ( people that is, not desserts ). You could definitely taste the G & T in it. I’m not sure if it was more like a Panna cotta. Luckily I’m happy with either so I was sorted. The big winner though dessert wise was the Warm Ginger Cake. The smell was unbelievable and the taste was better. A pudding straight out of the top drawer. GB had the WGC so now and again pretending to be mingling I’d dive down towards where my lovely was sitting just to sample this little bowl of delightfulness. Thumbs up for the Coconut Mousse as well. Both peeps that chose this were very happy bunnies.
On the day we were looked after by Kendall. What a great ambassador for Mr. Wareing. Kendall made sure all our needs were met, was conscious of what was going on at all times and made sure the whole experience went exactly how we’d hoped. We got a bit of the birthday cake after another HBTY song for both our mum and then for RB. I should say as well that all the staff were a credit. Polite, attentive, knowledgeable and nothing was unattainable, except of course for my extra Elmers. For those not in the know, Elmer Fudds = spuds.
As a special occasion it’s hard to see how many could match the Tredwells experience. Based on value for money, service and food it has to be right up there in the highest echelons of great restaurants based in London.
We paid up and strolled out into the sunshine for a slow walk to The Strand. The Aldwych Theatre is a grand old theatre. It’s very well placed and has a great atmosphere inside. As I said at the top I had no idea who Carole King was. I do now!… What a songwriter. Did you know CK wrote “The Locomotion”, “You Make Me Feel ( like a natural woman )”, “You’ve Got A Friend” and “Up On The Roof”…. Hah, well now you do my friends.
Kate Brayben who plays Carole has a superb voice. Excellently supported by the rest of the cast its a magnificent musical. I did love The Drifters and odd cameo of various famous singers of the era including Neil Sedaka ( all played by the same character ). The lighthearted rivalry between the duo of Carole King/Gerry Goffin and Cynthia Weil/Barry Mann is portrayed in a creative and humorous way. It’s funny but with some poignant moments. I loved it. I think our mum did too. It also proves that dreams can come true if you have the self belief. The fact that Carole didn’t necessarily believe herself to be good enough to sing her own songs is remarkable when you look at her career.
A couple of things to note. The song Beautiful is off of the album Tapestry. The album Tapestry was No.1 for 15 consecutive weeks stateside and was in the US billboard charts top 100 for an incredible 6 years!
In this particular era a lot of upcoming singer/songwriters were all living in the same block of apartments vying for a chance to have their song accepted by the agent who rented out their abodes. Quite often it seems they were asked to come up with a song for a particular group and then met up on the Friday to see whose song was best suited to the act in question.
Next time you have a Sunday free, book a roast at Tredwells and then go see Beautiful – The Carole King Story. It’s an awesome way to spend the day!
PS. Happy birthday Mum… Love you loads x