I write today from the Bush tax haven of Seaview, on the Isle of Wight where I have taken my liver for a hard earned break. The past week has been – even by my standards – something of an indulgent tour de force…
Wednesday night: a cheeky jaunt to Acorn House, which Giles Coren described as the most important new London restaurant in decades. Twenty of them in fact. I'll leave the environmental arguments to others, for now, but its policy of sensibly and sensitively preparing the best ingredients – both faithfully seasonal and as local as possible – is fully in line with a trend being echoed throughout the capital. And we’re the richer for it. Even if it weren't bolstered by eco-credentials, Acorn House is a particularly successful example of this trend, a smart and comfortable environment that belies an exterior which only marginally disguises its Kings Cross office block origins, friendly, efficient staff and well prepared, homely fare. I particularly enjoyed an unctuous special of parpadella with lamb ragu. Ceansing ales and prosecco followed in 06 St Chads Place, a fun spot that succeeds in being effortlessly trendy while making a design feature of a improbable floor-to-ceiling rendering of an old Thameslink timetable.
The mildest of hangovers on Thursday was seen off with a pint of Youngs outside the Audley before a fantastic long lunch at Le Gavroche. More on this in a later post, but suffice to say that it fully lived up to its reputation for dependable old school French cuisine at its best backed up by some of the best service it is possible to imagine.
Clearly what we needed after all this was more booze so a short constitutional took us to Providores on Marylebone High Street for a bottle of something cold and fruity. Providores has strong New Zealand heritage and a menu so bewildering in its range of ultra modern and ultra obscure ingredients and techniques that we spent an entertaining half hour playing a fiendishly difficult version of Blankety Blank with the à la carte from upstairs. From there it felt only natural to have a couple of pints and some fantastic Welsh rarebit in the excellent bar at St John before (tick tock) it was Wenlock o’clock and time for some old fashioned pub quiz nonsense. Quite a day. The less said about the kebab on the way home the better.
Friday kicked off with a far more impressive hangover which was overcome first by a bloody Mary and then by yet another fantastic lunch at the Anchor and Hope. The stars this time round were crab on toast, confit duck necks (a triumphant example of how to generate both money and happiness from a waste product), roast lamb with broad bean purée, fillets of red mullet with tapenade and other goodies and a finely judged gooseberry fool to finish. Hard to imagine a better lunch.
After this a rare non-culinary diversion to the very excellent Antony Gormley exhibition before a hastily arranged additional treat, a tasting tour of Borough Market. This was laid on for a gaggle of very deserving food bloggers and journalists by Trusted Places and hosted by Celia Brooks Brown, who between them run such tours on a commercial basis for people who presumably don’t visit the market quite as often as I do. It was interesting enough, though, and made a pleasant change to get my own back on the usual tourist hordes by being on the other side of the camera for a change.
The tour finished off with an oyster and a glass or two in Roast before I had to leave for my next appointment, sharpening cocktails in Milk and Honey and an evening of dim sum and other bits and pieces in Yauatcha. More on this later too. Suffice to say this time that it was mostly notable for the fact that I actually mustered any sort of appetite after the previous day or two.
And so to Saturday and a long anticipated lunch at Magdalen with the London OA crowd. Having become something of a Magdalen bore of late I was particularly keen for this to go well, as it was a first visit for some of the foodie enthusiasts present. I am happy to report a that most items on our special menu were very well received, although the choice of a couple of big poached sea trouts to share for the centrepiece main course was perhaps unfortunate in retrospect: not only did the weather fall a little short of the perky early summer day we were anticipating, it also hardly gave the kitchen a chance to shine. And shine it undoubtedly can (although sadly no longer on the normally too-quiet Saturday lunchtimes).
In all, though, a very successful lunch, followed by an inevitable sojourn to The Rake for an afternoon/evening session that had already descended into messiness when I left and was showing no real signs of letting up. Some members of the party may still be there, although I have a feeling a dangerous move to a private room at Bacchus may have been in the offing...
So you see I deserve – or at the very least need – a few days’ R&R. The next week or so will be characterised by prawn sandwiches, the occasional pint or two of Goddard’s, long walks on the beach and maybe – just maybe – the odd G&T. Wouldn’t want to upset the system, now, would I....?