Sunday, April 4, 2010

Dinner at Artichoke

With our move date set (19 April) and lots to do to prepare, H is now done with work. Before we left he wanted to have dinner at the restaurant where he’s been working. It’s getting a lot of attention and we thought with A in France, what better time to have our last fancy meal in England.

We decided we would have the tasting menu and the accompanying wine flight (and taxi home). As the evening approached, whenever the dinner would come up, H would start describing to me one of the courses and how it was made. I had to stop him and explain that I wanted to be surprised. I asked him why he wanted to eat there when the experience would be totally demystified and he had two reasons, one was that he wanted to see how the front of the house worked knowing all he knew about everything else. The second reason, and the most important is that they serve local venison (or they did until last week when the seasonal menu changed).

A few hours before dinner H said that he wanted to take some parting gifts up to the restaurant, some cookies for staff. I asked if he wanted to me to make some homemade chocolate chip cookies. His response was no, we’d stop at the store on the way to the restaurant and pick up some things. He picked up the junkiest junk food like Jaffa Cakes, Haribo, and Krispy Kreme donuts. After paying for these items he slipped them all in a gift bag and me, not knowing what really goes on in a professional kitchen was shocked that he was going to bring that crap into this beautiful establishment.

We were the first seating and had the restaurant to ourselves for a good bit of time. The chef came down to greet us. We had a laugh about the junk food and how much they loved that stuff.

The atmosphere is really lovely, making the most of the historic building but also having a modern twist. We were treated like royalty. I remember the beginning of the evening and the arriving glass of champagne best of all. As the courses came H would describe how they were created which gave me more of an appreciation for all that goes into the preparation. The course I thought I would dread was an early course, primarily beetroot and one that H used to make and has described in detail. I’ve mentioned here before that the English love beetroot (or what we just call beets). I think they taste like dirt. The dish that was put in front of me was a work of art with pieces of beet, goat’s cheese, and some beetroot sorbet which I just couldn’t imagine being good until I tried it. My favourite course was the scallop course which was served with shaved coconut, pickeled carrot, and cilantro. It was amazing. My friend M said it best when I was telling her about the dinner and the accompanying wine with every course, “With that much wine, I forget a few of the courses”. By the end of the meal, the restaurant was completely packed and I was totally drunk. I actually haven’t wanted to look at wine since that night. I remember waking up Saturday morning with my 40th birthday looming large the next day thinking you don’t bounce back like you used to, do you?

1 comment:

Poodlebugz said...

How cool to have the tasting menu with the cheffy explanation! I also don't feel the love for the beetroot. The only time I've ever had it and like it was when Johns (may he rest in peace) did a a roasted root veg medley with beets, parsnips, and carrots. Roasting the beets turned them into amazing, but I've never been able to recreate them the way he did them.

Come through Alabammy on your way home! We'd all like to see you! Safe travels!