It was February 14th and as soon as the post arrived I put all notions of a romantic Valentines Day out of my head. Definitely for other people this year. Having said that, I didn't want to sit at home that evening, especially as I Was a Cub Scout were playing just a couple of tube stops away. As well as the post, another disappointment that day was not getting our blog mentioned in In Krista's bi-weekly round up of the London food blogging scene. Serves me right for leaving a lazy YouTube post up that day I suppose. Anyway, after a few emails to Krista suddenly . . . hurray! A nice evening out with a fellow foodie, going to see some good music.
We met in the Lincoln Lounge and then hesitantly navigated our way towards the venue. Sadly by the time we got there, the not-quite-our-cup-of-tea, MeWithoutYou (great name for a band playing on that particular day of the year) were dinning the place out, so we bailed and went foraging.
Restaurants on Valentines Night are given a temporary license to print money and are booked months ahead. What chance of a decent bite to eat for us? I thought we'd get the ambitious place out of the way first before we resigned ourselves whatever we could get. Lo and behold though, Acorn House, London's new(ish) eco-restaurant had a table! Krista was agog that all the women were sitting with their backs to the wall, I explained that this was the polite thing to do (she's from abroad) but she insisted that we should sit differently. I passively accepted the role-reversal. It being the night for star-crossed lovers the only menu on offer (at £90 including matching wine) was the 'London Love Menu'. All a bit absurd for a first not-date.
The 'First Kiss' course was a beetroot, cardamom and sour cream soup with a touch of caviar. 'Oh no', I though, 'Krista doesn't like beetroot' . . . but it was ok, we both enjoyed the slightly foamy concoction. I was surprised at the style though as I'd expected the food to be a bit more rustic/seasonal/English. Next, Krista went for 'Love salad of pine nuts, avocado, quince and pomegranate', I had 'dragon love beans and black truffle salad'. The waitress helpfully explained that many of the ingredients here were aphrodisiacs. Mine certainly sounded like they belonged in a sex shop . . . they turned out to be the somewhat more prosaic, but eminently tasty borlotti bean.
Things were moving swiftly now and the 'Back to Mine' course was clearly designed to supply you with enough energy to last the night . . . it was enormous. Despite being initially tasty, we concurred that it was just a bit boring by the end. Next, seared Scottish scallops, wet polenta, chilli and celery hearts . . . at least that's what the menu said . . . so what else can you see in the picture below?
That's right. A whopping gert stalk of broccoli. Now I'm no George Bush (Senior) and I do not bear a grudge against the humble (though lauded as a superfood) vegetable . . . but it's just didn't go with the scallops. The crunchy texture just got in the way, and where scallops can be succulent, sweet and luxurious, these were just lost in a dish that somehow would have seemed more more at home in a health food cafe.
Dessert was a triumph but I was just too full by this stage = spiced warm chocolate cake with ginger ice cream.
So what's eco about the restaurant? It runs on sustainable lines, there is a concern with food miles and with provenance. We asked a waitress where our pomegranate came from - and she knew - from Israel by ship. I had a look at the normal menu and this looked much more appetising than than the peculiar 'London Love Menu', partly because it had a more British and seasonal sense to it, partly because it was much more reasonably priced. There was a slight wobble with the wine service during the meal, but this should be forgiven . . . it's also a training restaurant.
The friendly waitress showed us to the door and slightly suggestively wished us a good 'rest of the night', 'I'm going home', said Krista immediately, and so a rather nice evening out ended. I'll almost certainly try it again on a less auspicious date.
Acorn House, 69 Swinton Street, London WC1X 020 7812 1842