Monday, 13 September 2010

THE UNDERGROUND RESTAURANT

I first read about the concept of private restaurants popping up in hipster New York apartments about a year ago. These were usually established by innovative Manhattan chefs over the stress of professional kitchens and wanting to create a more intimate, friendly and authentic atmosphere in which to serve up their delicious food. The idea of attending a private address to share a meal with a group of strangers seemed a terribly avant garde (darling) antidote not only to the American Psycho excesses of 80s New York but also the increasing inter-personal alienation the internet appears to have fostered in more recent times.


There are a few private supperclubs in London, Ms. Marmite Lover's Kilburn enterprise offering the most creative menus (we just missed the July 14th Bastille Day French extravaganza) within a cosy, friendly atmosphere. Upon arrival at the secret Kilburn address, we were immediately ushered out onto our vibrant host's balcony overlooking her luxuriously overgrown garden (above) for a 'Bitter Underground' bespoke gin and tonic. The balmy, candlelit evening darkened as our appetites sharpened from the inviting aromas wafting from the kitchen ('non-business end' pictured below).


First course was a succulent tortellini stuffed with fragrant cheeses in a deliciously creamy mushroom sauce. Following on from that came delicate parcels of roasted salmon individually wrapped and tied up with string, accompanying mouth-watering, slow-roasted cherry tomatoes and plump, textured, buttered and salted new potatoes. The potatoes arrived after I had finished my main, illustrating exactly the charm of the private restaurant - sometimes things are haphazard and less than perfect, making the experience all the more interesting. A generous selection of gloriously pungent cheeses then arrived (below top - personally selected by MML during her trip across the channel earlier in the week), followed by a spectacular 21 egg pavlova crumbled into the fabulously English pudding known as Eton Mess (below bottom).



Check out this post on our lovely host and chef Ms Marmite Lover's (below) blog for a full outline of the evening's menu.


Our fellow diners for the evening included a very friendly, corporate (but nice!) couple (pictured below top - working for Shell and Nestle respectively) whose names I'm afraid now escape me. Two separate groups of birthday parties full of posh young ladies and gentlemen (below bottom) made up the numbers for a full house of around 20 diners. This was the one disappointment of the evening - as the two birthday groups already had their friends around them they seemed less inclined to indulge in some good old fashioned awkward dinner party conversation with strangers, which was in one sense the point of the whole evening. In any case, who is Ms Marmite Lover to knock back block bookings...

Overall, the evening was genuinely a very enjoyable affair and certainly recommended if you're after a novel experience for your Saturday night.





At the end this little soldier was stuck with the washing up!!

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