James Nesbitt is an actor. He’s well known for playing testicular-cancer suffering Adam in the hit British series Cold Feet. I know about the cancer part because an older lady at the table along from us hit him up about it before he sat down. She got the testicle bit wrong though, and it was hilarious. He’s known for other hit roles on TV and theatre, and he’s currently living with his family in Wellington filming The Hobbit. We talked wine, charm and foreign accents over The Polly Burger at Cafe Polo yesterday. And ladies and gentlemen, we may just have a winner.
I’ve always been a sucker for a foreign accent. Friends who knew me as a backpacker-bar frequenting 17 year old can vouch for that. Maybe it’s the charm, or the cheek, or the soft soft sing-songing, but good god James Nesbitt had me all a-flutter and in stitches by the end of date #6.
We had a tourism-related chaperone which meant he spent the beginning of our date professing his love for our wee city. He confessed to not really having been a coffee drinker before, but said it’s hard not to be when such a culture is so embedded in the city. He’s grateful to be living by the sea, and he loves Cafe Polo. A bit miffed at the prospect of a vegetarian burger, a glass of local viognier sorted that out.
Nesbitt is a very funny man. He oozes charm, and has a sly cheeky smile on him at pretty much all times. His self-deprecating wit was in full force when I asked him what he thought gave the Irish that famous Irish charm. It’s because men respect females in Ireland, despite notable differences between the North and the South. He explained having grown up with 3 older sisters he has a true appreciation, love and respect for women, and maybe that’s part of it. Communication between men and women is crucial, as is not having fear in that communication. Chivalry is not dead according to Nesbitt, and if anything it’s prevalent. Chivalry is also something important to rememeber because, and for this he reeled me in close as if revealing a secret:
Men are terrified of women.
Such insight, I feel, may just come in extremely handy one day. So with that he wanted to hear about his competition - how had the other dates gone? A hint of jealousy was detected and my accent was mocked but he was very interested in both how we came to be eating lunch together, and the origins of Heartbreak Pie. I said there was room in the 17 dates schedule for a potential repeat performance, and with that prospect he was positively bouncing off his chair. He wanted to win.
He talked golf with our waiter and was dubious about vegetarian for lunch. Any such fears were blown out of the water: the Polly Burger is delcious. Absolutely freaking delicious. It comes with crispy crumbed onion rings and truffled fries for goodness sake!
The lead role in this burger is played by two zany zeus ricotta and goat’s cheese fritters: imagine the texture of beautifully homemade hash browns but with a soft, pillowy, cheesy filling. The supporting roles are expertly played by spiced beetroot, walnuts and hummus and it’s all encased in a sesame seed bun. The chorus: the aforementioned hand cut truffled fries (in the name of research I ate approximately between 3 and 5) and sitting on top, those onion rings.
It encompasses Cafe Polo: classy yet casual, a simple appearance but a huge depth of sophisticated flavours, a little bit cheeky and lots of fun. Nesbitt agreed. Lunch was amazing. And so to his favourite date story? He was on the world theatre circuit for Hamlet, as was his now wife Sophia. Heonce spent two hours standing outside her hotel serenading her in the rain, only to discover later that she’d slept through the whole thing. When asked what dating advice he’d give his daughters he didn’t really have any, but did note he cared: “as long as they’re happy and don’t take heroin.”
We followed it up with a stunning Martinborough Pinot Noir and by that point he was the one getting out of his chair to grab me a glass. He declared himself “my Irish pimp” rattling off names of others he could rustle up for a date. He noted how important it is to be able to make a girl laugh, and if you can sing to them as well then you’re in to win. I agreed, and told him about my friend who recently commented she was making a concerted effort to stop getting laughed into bed. He loved it.
With the laughter getting louder and the conversation descending (into the blog-inappropriate) and a pre-filming post-lunch nap to have, we hugged goodbye. Dinner rather than lunch next time, thank you very much.
The vital stats:
Amazing on all counts. Swooooon! 9.75/10
Thank you to the lovely lads at Cafe Polo for hosting us on date #6. Thanks also to Valentina for setting it up! And Angela for chaperoning, and for reminding us all we need to be texting in our votes for each burger to 8552 - you can see Jimmy in the above photo texting in - “Cafe Polo 10”