Bert's Bar is entered from the new section of the hotel at High Street, directly opposite St George's Church.
When I arrived I walked up to the bar counter and ordered a Tanqueray and tonic. I have to say they know how to serve their drinks here: The portions of ice and lemon or lime slices are impeccable.
I spotted the bar-man wearing metal elasticated arm-bands, of the type I inherited from my father. I wear them all the time.
I like Bert's. Indeed I like the grand Merchant.
I had time for another restorative before my friends arrived, when we all found a banquette at the window.
The menus arrived. We decided to have the set menu, which comprised a tempting selection of dishes.
I had the Waldorf salad, sea-bass and creme brulee; Amanda (Duchess of Calhame), the soup, beef bourguignon and sorbet; and I've forgotten what Chris had. Ha!
My Waldorf salad was good. The portion was fine for me, with the apple sculpted into little balls; plenty of walnuts, and a fine dressing.
The sea-bass was seated on top of basil mash, a remarkable green colour. It was quite delicious. I simply could not find any faults at all. Tip-top.
The Duchess's soup looked home-made, thick and nourishing. Her Grace's (!) beef bourguignon also looked irresistible, to such an extent that she passed me the remains of her unfinished helping, the soup course having satisfied her greatly.
I ate some of the beef and mash, the venerable nose-bag in overdrive by that stage.
Never let it be said that Timothy Belmont fails as a hearty enough trencherman in the race to the food-trough.
Puddings were, I must say, the calibre of the previous courses.
We had a bottle of white New Zealand wine with the meal.
We eventually took our leave and ambled over to a diminutive establishment in Skipper Street called The Spaniard.
It was quite crowded, and we made our way to the rear of the bar, where we chatted with a couple of "newly-weds". I drank Hendrick's and tonic, with a great chunk of cucumber; the Duchess had a cocktail; and Chris, Jack Daniel's and Coke; three drinks which set me back £20, including a tip.
We had another round prior to hailing a cab at Waring Street, which conveyed us to Madison's Hotel, Botanic Avenue, where we spent the remainder of the evening.
Her Grace and I got the train home, though she took the one going northwards, towards Calhame Manor. Chris stayed the night at Madison's.