And then literally out of the blue, to raise your head and make the brilliant decision to go out and have some lunch, preferably in a pleasant outdoor setting?
It is possible! And we did it. We jumped into our car, sailed through a police roadblock without being stopped and made our way to Willow Bean, just on the corner of Rolf Avenue and Willowmead Lane, near St John’s College.
The setting of Willow Bean is lovely, with beautiful landscaping: green lawns, trees and shrubs as well as a little stream strewn with igneous rocks. Whether it is for breakfast, mid-morning coffee or lunch, one can find a place to sit either on one of the two uncovered but well-treed terraces or at a table in the airy and covered central area.
As our intentions were serious — having our sumptuous Saturday lunch and eating it in comfort — we chose one of the larger tables in the central area rather than one of the smaller but cosy coffee tables outside.
We ordered a fruit juice and homemade lemonade. These were brought promptly. Then we lingered over the extensive menu.
The choice of lunch dishes was really wide as well. For some not inconsiderable time, the marinated beef fillet with couscous winked most alluringly at me. My wife meanwhile made eyes at the fish dishes and the prawns. A lovely selection of salads were also available, as well as snacks and intriguing looking pastas, toasted sandwiches and various starters. It takes a bit of studying to find hors d’oeuvres among the groupings of dishes, but they are there. The menu as a whole is mainly Mediterranean inspired, with a sprinkling of Thai and Japanese cuisine included as well.
We decided that the smoked beef salad looked too good to miss, and ordered it as a shared starter. For her main dish, my wife ordered prawns peri-peri, and I decided on the stuffed chicken with pasta.
The smoked beef salad was duly brought (with an extra bowl) and we marvelled at how the delicately lengthwise-sliced cucumber was such a good visual friend to the thin strips of succulent smoked beef. The caramelised onions were a delicious surprise among the leaves of rocket, oak leaf and butter lettuce which simply couldn’t have looked fresher or prettier.
While still happily enjoying our salad in a dreamy way (eyes closed, mmmm’s on our lips), we looked up to find that our main courses had arrived, and that they were looking in a hurry to be eaten!
It seemed that the chicken and prawns had been cooked a little too enthusiastically: but delicious nonetheless. The pasta accompaniment to my chicken had been tossed in such a marvellously light and sweet tomato sauce that I promptly described it as “a very happy sauce”.
We then realised — half way through our main course — that we needed some more to drink and asked the waitress for this. She was most accommodating in our choice, but failed to deliver the drinks before we had actually finished our main course. The menu offers a corkage rate for those who would like to bring their own wine to accompany their meal, and this is a nice idea in addition to the available beverage choices.
To finish off our leisurely lunch, I could not resist the chocolate mousse cake, and asked for a double espresso to accompany it. The cake was dark, gooey and rich —just right — and the espresso strong and hot. Yes, that decision made on the veranda of our home — to top our morning off with lunch out at Willow Bean — had indeed been a brilliant one.
Deluxe Coffee Shop
Expect to spend US$10 for coffee and a light bite to US$30 for a full meal with wine.