As the weather was set fair, the owners of the Trattoria had set up the small but perfectly formed courtyard for us and decorated it with "Happy Birthday" bunting and balloons. Dong was very impressed and waved his balloons about with glee.Before starters arrived, there was a spot of present opening to be done; a book (about steam trains, oh quelle surprise) from Mrs The Millbrooker and me......DVDs of both filmic versions of Memphis Belle (info on the other version is here) and some tickets for us all to go on a weekend away in September to take a run on the Severn Valley Steam Railway from Shazzerooneypoos.Almost immediately thereafter, starters appeared. Unusually, we'd all chosen the same thing - fresh calamari in tempura batter with sweet chilli sauce and garlic mayonnaise......which was as close to heaven as it's possible to get if calamari are part of the official pearly gate selection process used by St Peter.
As night follows day, so mains followed starters. And again, with the honourable exception of Dong, everyone chose the same. Sea bass cooked with pine kernels and olives. Stupendously, ludicrously, toothsomely gorgeous. Book a ticket from wherever you are to Plymouth and head to the Trattoria Pescatore and order this dish immediately; it's one of the best things to make it past my laughing tackle in a very long while.Dong went his own way, as so oft before, and selected a pasta thingy.I've always found that pasta thingies in restaurants actually grow in volume on your plate rather than diminishing during consumption. They're always, but always, impossible to finish. So I never order them; Dong was well happy with his, though, even if I had to eat the green bit for him as he considered it to be far too healthy looking.
We'd swilled down a couple of bottles of very decent red stuff by the time puds arrived. The proprietors had made a birthday cake which arrived with all appropriate ceremony and Dong had the world's best known and most frequently sung song warbled to him; not for the last time this week. A knife was provided and the honours were done.Then came the arguably only error of the day. Robert the restaurateur came to the table and asked if we'd like to try "something a bit different, on the house". When a restaurateur says something like this to you, there's usually something lethal involved. But, because we'd already had a few slurps, we said we'd love to try "something new".Robert returned moments later with a chilled bottle of Bison Grass Vodka and poured us each something resembling a triple. Dong and I liked it, so we had another triple. Oh my goodness. The remainder of the day does resemble something blurry and slightly askew.
After the obligatory bill paying (they get cross if you miss out this traditional ritual in restaurants), we wandered amiably down Durnford Street giving a close inspection to the brass plaques in the pavement which feature quotations from Sherlock Holmes novels, and offering plenty of mutual support in remaining upright.After a quick ride back over the water to Cremyll, we found ourselves ensconced in The Edgcumbe Arms for pint (or a cuppa in the much-more-sensible Mrs The Millbrooker's case). Auntie Sharon kindly demonstrated the invaluable use of a little polka dot dress in any form of competitive thigh flashing.One brief taxi ride later and we landed at Shazzerooneypoos' house where Dong got more presents, this time from Danny and Betty (Shazzers' ma and pa).At this point remaining upright in any form was becoming a teensy bit difficult; partly bison grass vodka, partly several nights of inadequate sleep due to early shifts and so Mrs The Millbrooker did her wifely duty and took me home.
So we shared a goodly bit of Dong's birthday and had a bloomin' great time; thanks for asking us along, Dong.
But the long celebration wasn't over yet - keep tuning in for more fascinating instalments, oh yes.