A recession makes for interesting times. Success does not rely on large financial outlay and clever marketing schemes, customers have less money to spend and want to spend it well. I don’t think it’s any coincidence that the birth of the Underground Restaurant or Pop-Up Restaurant movement in London coincides with our depressing economics times. Quirky and individual they offer a unique experience and a talking point, and the opportunity to immerse yourself in someone elses domestic environment for a few hours while you indulge in the comforts of their home cooking. I dined at one such restaurant in London recently, run by a fellow food blogger MsMarmiteLover from her gorgeous home.
We food bloggers travel in packs to these kind of things, I went with Helen of Food Stories, Lizzie of Hollow Legs and Chris of Cheese & Biscuits. My usual partners in crime in food forays and otherwise, and always good indicators of a fun night out.
We arrived promptly and were greeted warmly with a Kir Semi-Royale. We had no idea what to expect, having only had the pleasure of MsMarmiteLover’s company online, and were immediately at ease and chattering with fellow diners before sitting to eat at 7.30pm.
MsMarmiteLover offers a 3 course meal with aperetif for £25 a head. Her daughter and her friend waited on us, and were a very charming addition to the evening. The Spring menu was on offer the evening we dined there. A lovely comforting home cooked affair, starting with raviolo stuffed with Portobello (bought from Portobello Rd market), oyster and button mushrooms with an onion cappuccino cooked by Charlie Nelson, a velvety affair with an earthy mushroom interior. I can vouch for Charlie’s sauce particularly, as later on I spied two food bloggers sipping from the ladle and licking the spoon ;)
The main course followed, salmon en papillote with creme fraiche and dill with Aga-roasted exquisa potatoes in olive oil and herbs served with foccacia. I could have sworn there was nutmeg in the spiced salmon crust, alas my palette failed me, the salmon was delicately cooked and very moist and the spice crust, fragrant and crispy, is something I plan to try and replicate at home.
A brief trip to the lovely terrace followed. I experienced serious flat envy all the while, MsMarmiteLover’s lovely home represents my ideal, homely, comforting and quirky with a lovely terrace and steps to a big garden.
The evening was drawing to a close and it was time for desserts and coffee. Tarte au Citron served with meringues and coffee from the thing I coveted the most, a gorgeous porcelain moka. This was a nice finish, perfectly light, the tartness of the lemon perfectly complemented the preceding salmon.
To our surprise, Chris confessed that he could play piano, and we were treated to a session of requests which was fantastic, there’s a certain energy brought to a room with such an impromptu affair. It all felt very Gatsbyesque, without music or food, where would we be? A great night, MsMarmiteLover’s warm personality, delicious home-cooked food and lovely home provide a decadent escape fromthe day-to-day grind. I’ve got it on my list for visitors to London, we’re lucky to have such things, let’s make the most of them!