Thursday, 2 January 2014

Prezzo Prandials

This New Year's Eve was quite unusual for me, because for the first time in eight years, I was not DJ'ing for the evening. This has always been a lucrative night for me. DJ's, like taxis, charge at least double, more in many cases, but this year I decided I would take a break from it.

New Year's Eve assumes a special importance in our family, because it is also my wife's birthday. We have been together since 2006 and in all of that time she's had to traipse around after me wherever I happened too be working for the evening. That's OK if we are local, but that hasn't always been the case. Anyway, I decided it was about time that I treated Claire to a birthday night out so I rejected all offers of DJ'ing and thought about what we should do.

Now I thought at first maybe we should do something really special, but then I thought perhaps we will put that on hold for another year. You see Claire was 29 this year and she has the big birthday coming up at the end of 2014, so I've decided to save it until then. Instead we decided to go out for a meal locally, and we had plenty of places to choose from.

What a difference a year makes! The new town centre development in Bicester has given us opportunities that simply didn't exist before. We had an tired ageing old Tesco, and a few other smaller supermarkets - now we have an amazing, huge modern Sainsbury. There was nowhere to get kids clothes hardly, now we've got not only Sainsbury but Peacocks as well - what a fantastic little shop that is, cheap, decent clothes, in fact I'm sitting here now in my lovely warm dressing gown that Claire got me for £16 - you can't go wrong! Then there is the cinema of course. If you are someone who lives in a large town or city you'll probably wonder what I am getting so excited about, well the fact is, this town of 30,000 people just did not have any of these things before. For someone like me who lives in the town centre and can't just sail off where I want at the drop of a hat because of having small children to look after, it's a godsend.

And then of course there are the restaurants! At last, some chain restaurants offering an alternative from the endless Indian and Thai places which have dominated the town for years. It's all about variety and now we've got it. I've been to all three and loved them all. You've already seen my reviews of Deans Diner and Nando's. Hot on the heels of them has come Prezzo, and so it came to pass that we headed down there at 8pm on New Year's Eve for Claire's birthday dinner.

And very enjoyable it was too! If you have been to a Prezzo or any Italian chain restaurant you'll be familiar with the sorts of things on offer - pizza, pasta dishes and grills. We had a mixed platter to start with which was most acceptable. It contained bread, cheese, olives and of course a fine selection of cured meats and salamis which as you'll know I'm rather partial too. For the main course I had the burger which was fantastic - large, juicy and flavoursome. I must of course mention the chips. Most people other than myself seem to underestimate the importance of chips but it is key to my satisfaction when it comes to a meal out - since it accounts for around 50% of most dishes I order (i.e. meat + chips). They were French fries and excellent, crispy, hot and tasty. Claire had chicken with a mushroom sauce which looked lovely, similar to the sort of thing I cook at home, which I think I will definitely have next time. She also had the bonus of some salad which a freak gust of wind blew off my plate and on to hers.

This was all washed down with a bottle of Chianti - only my second drinking day of December, but it fell under the "special occasion" banner so quite acceptable.

Afterwards we went up to the Acorn to see the New Year in. Unlike all the other places which had tickets and would be rammed we just wanted something a bit low key, and this ticked all the boxes. Our very good friends Duncan and Lynda were there and I've always got time for them. Duncan and Eric, Lynda's were doing the disco and there were a few of my old karaoke crowd too. Claire bumped into an old friend from school, and another good friend of mine was there too who I wasn't expecting to see so we had plenty of company, and even met a few new people too. The place wasn't crowded, but it was just the right level and it was nice to see someone else doing all the work on NYE for a change - thanks Duncan!

So a great night and a massive thumbs up for Prezzo. Doubtless there will be some that disagree, when I posted my reviews of Nando's and Deans on facebook there were a few detractors, but let's face it, you can't please everyone. Someone always likes to pick fault with things, they are probably the same people who inspect every nook and cranny of their holiday accommodation for things to moan about on Trip Advisor. On a more local basis we've got "have a rant pages" and various others on facebook for people to have a good moan. Quite why people feel the need to do this, I don't know. I tend to relax and overlook the small things when I go on holiday or out for a meal, otherwise what's the point?

I think in a lot of cases it is down to personality. I have a naturally sunny disposition, think optimistically and positively and it works for me. Whereas it seems to me those who constantly moan and complain about their lot in life never see any improvement. They were all up there again on facebook over New Year, bemoaning their lot and how they hope 2014 will be better. I feel like saying to some of them "get off your arse, stop whining and make it better". But I don't because there is no point, they'll just carry on, same old mistakes, same old habits, same old bad choices. They'll be back again next year hoping for a better 2015.

As for me and 2014? Well I'm bursting with new ideas and plans. I had some pretty lofty ambitions in 2013 but I made them all happen. 2014 has massive potential - with me in much better health, alcohol free (most of the time) the world really is my oyster. What am I going to do? Well that would be spoilers, you'll just have to wait and see!

Happy New Year!

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