17 July 2006, Avenue Q

Monday, breakfast at the hotel was similar to, but better than, that at the Café on the Square: sunny-side up eggs (not overcooked), sausage, bacon, better mushrooms, grilled tomatoes, excellent cheddar, boiled ham, canned peaches, fresh melon, three juices, tea, coffee, and chocolate. The bread improved with time: just toast on Monday, very good rolls on Tuesday; croisants added on Wednesday. Yogurt also appeared on Wednesday.

British MuseumWe spent the morning in the British Museum, revisiting the Elgin marbles and the Rosetta stone. I also liked the gorgeous coral and ivory jewelry, and a magnificently carved wooden citol (stringed instrument).

For lunch, we found the quintessential 100-yard-rule restaurant, Truckles in Pied Bull Yard. It was just around the corner from the museum, but off an inner courtyard. Despite a large sign on the sidewalk, within actual sight of the museum, which was seething with tourists, we were the only people there who didn't seem to be locals working in the neighborhood. We shared two sandwiches: "salted beef" (more or less corned beef) with an escellent sweet mustard-dill sauce and pickles) and "Cumberland sausage." Note for future reference: go back to bangers; Cumberland sausage is harder to digest.

After lunch, we went back to the British Museum to tour the Enlightenment Gallery, then walked to the theatre district to make sure we knew where our theatres were and to exchange theatre vouchers. The three theatres are all quite close together. The first two (Noël Coward, Comedy) said our vouchers were sufficient (even though they said on them "Must be exchanged"). The third (Royal/Haymarket) insisted on exchanging for real tickets, even though the vouchers didn't say anything about it.

Dune tartareWe had an early dinner at Dune on Haymarket St. The air conditioning that lured us in the door turned out not to extend to the dining room, but the food was very good. The decor could only be called odd. The crystal chandeliers were adorned with white feather boas and long dangling chains of what I think were large (3") translucent fish scales. The smaller, spherical lamps over the booths wore "wigs" of long twisting strings that made them look like jellyfish. Otherwise, the room was rather modern and austere.

First course, David: Gazpacho.

First course, Anne: Salmon tartare with crême fraiche and cucumber dice in a lemony sauce.

Second course, David: Crisply grilled (but moist) salmon with grilled artichoke hearts.

Second course, Anne: Two thin, seared South American-style lamb steaks with mojo sauce and mashed potatoes.

We skipped dessert—it was showtime!

Avenue Q is every bit as bizzare as it's billed to be, but excellent throughout. The advertising slogan is "Heteros, homos, pornos, . . . and that's just the puppets!" It features songs like "Everyone's a little bit racist, sometimes," and "If you were gay, that'd be okay (but I'm not gay)." Some of the characters are puppets; others are people. I recommend it.

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