It seems strange to be writing about something that happened before Christmas but I couldn’t possibly let my amazing night with Tom Kerridge go by without telling you all about it. In terms of the experience it was possibly my most enjoyable meal of 2012 and if not, then a very close second.
I’ve often thought that the best nights are spontaneous and this was a prime example. It was the day after my work Christmas party. I was sitting in the office, in my Christmas jumper (it was also national Christmas jumper day) and was feeling very hungover and tired.
I don’t usually have much chance to look at Twitter during the day but I wasn’t getting much work done so I had a scroll through and saw this:
As you can see from my reply, I thought it must be a joke at first. The Cube was a pop up restaurant due to finish on new year’s eve, which had a different michelin starred chef each week. I’d been really keen to go but the price tag was seriously steep, about £260 if memory serves me correct and for once, I had decided to be well behaved.
My mind and body were telling me that a night of fine food and champagne was the last thing I wanted but there was no way I was paying attention to that. This was an opportunity of a lifetime. A chance to do something that I really wanted to do, for a fraction of the usual price and to donate the fee to charity. No one in their right mind would turn that down!
As it turned out, the night was better than I could ever have imagined. The setting was just spectacular. We met in the members bar at the Royal Festival Hall (which incidentally you get to by taking the most hilarious singing lift!) and were then escorted to The Cube. What I hadn’t realised was that this meant going out onto the roof as The Cube was a temporary structure on top of the Royal Festival Hall.
The view was breathtaking. Directly over the Thames you could see the whole London skyline lit up, with the London Eye and the Houses of Parliament right in front of you. It was truly magical. We couldn’t resist taking a few snaps but they really don’t do it any justice.
The view didn’t stop there, the dining room was cleverly glass panelled so we could see out for the whole evening. I can only imagine how amazing it must have been on new year’s eve watching the fireworks display!
A long table was beautifully dressed for a dinner party and the team of chefs were busily cooking away and chatting to guests when we entered. I asked Tom what had happened and he explained that a corporate had booked the whole thing out and then cancelled that morning. They already had all the food in and so decided that rather than let it go to waste, they would go ahead and donate all the proceeds to charity. Excellent plan if you ask me.
The waiting staff were all lovely and had been there since The Cube opened back in June. They told me that Tom was their favourite of all of the chefs who had been and I could believe it. He was really friendly and good fun. I couldn’t resist asking for a sneaky pic.
First off we were provided with countless glasses of delicious champagne as we mingled and waited for Tom’s PA (who had been given a last minute invite and was on her way from Marlow) to arrive. We also had some rather lovely potato and cheddar croquettes to nibble on while we sipped and a nice dollop of truffle mayonnaise to dunk them in.
When dinner began, Tom explained that it would be a mixture of classics from the menu at The Hand & Flowers (his restaurant in Marlow) and dishes he that had devised for The Great British Menu. Everything was served in big pots for sharing, which was really fun and meant that we all got chatting during the meal.
Tom described each dish as they were served and the sommelier explained the matching wines to us as he poured.
With the exception of the lamb, which was a little too salty for me, I thought the food was absolutely faultless. It was the type of food that I love to eat; hearty and comforting but also refined and packed with flavour. I really loved the sharing concept as well.
Here are a few pics of what we ate. Sorry about the poor quality, the lighting caused strange stripes and my phone also went dead part way through the night so I had to use Mr E’s.
A bowl of King Oyster Mushrooms, Blue Cheese and Garlic Butter.
Pumpkin Soup ‘En Croute’ to be sliced into and poured over the mushrooms.
Pig’s Head with Jerusalem Artichoke, Pancetta and Crackling.
Hake and Grapes
Salt Baked Shoulder of Lamb
Chocolate Hazelnut and Salt Cookies
I shan’t tell you about all the wines but there were four different varieties plus the Joseph Perrier 2002 champagne and an oak aged ale to finish. Oh and a shot of Amaretto from the bottle left behind by Chris Evans and guests at their Christmas party the night before. Suffice to say I was absolutely blathered, which only served to make the night even more enjoyable 🙂
This was hands down that this was the best £50 I spent in 2012. I had an absolutely brilliant night out with Mr E and having now checked The Hand & Flowers website and seen that Friday nights are booked up until July I feel even more delighted with the fortunate turn of events.