What better way to spend a gloomy afternoon than for H&D to visit London Street Brasserie to fortify before going on to watch a big blue whale parade through the town centre?
As part of the Magical Reading series of events for the festive season, the whale, from Beautiful Creatures, creators of the Winter Giant, was simply spectacular, appearing amid smoke, lights and music.
But we'd also had a pretty spectacular meal at LSB beforehand. And, to be honest, we'd arrived with appetites not unlike whales ourselves, knowing we'd be well fed.
We mixed and matched from the really good value set lunch menu and the a la carte, something that solves the problem, as we had, of wanting a starter from the a la carte and main from the set. That's a real plus and kudos to LSB for being so flexible.
We began with two quite different starters - one a crispy-skinned confit duck on top of an Asian slaw and walnuts and with a sharp ginger and rhubarb relish. This was soft and sticky and unctuous. And it came from LSB's special gluten-free menu - for once a restaurant that does not just give a nod to wheat-free dishes.
Meanwhile we also had a fresh crab and remoulade salad - the freshest, sweetest crab with a tangy remoulade and a slice of sourdough. I'd never had chopped egg with my remoulade but the contrast of textures was good.
Mains were a sea bass on top of roasted butternut squash and cripsy kale with a tomato concasse - the bass was perfectly cooked and the capers on top added a salty note. We also had a proper winter warmer of roasted sweet venison (after spying a neighbouring table tucking in, as you do) with a rich jus and bright green parsley mash.
This casserole dish had baby pearl onions, baby mushrooms and baby carrots roasted until melting. It was one of the best game dishes I've had in a while.
Finally, to dessert - and another star from the gluten-free menu. A gooey chocolate brownie with a Seville marmalade ice cream. The brownie was as good as any regular one and the ice cream was sweet yet sharp.
As we made our way to the parade we did actually feel a bit like whales ourselves - full and also happy after our bottle of Australian shiraz.
The whale did not disappoint - and that, too, is the secret to London Street Brasserie. It never does also.