Tuesday, October 18, 2011
When I lived in San Francisco I had a progressive dinner party with a friend that lived in my building. The evening started in my apartment, where we all gathered for aperitifs and canapes. Afterwards we moved to her apartment for dinner. It was a fun night, and I have always wanted to do it again. Last week I had an opportunity to do so as part of the London Restaurant Festival. The One Aldwych hotel invited me to enjoy a three-course dinner where each course was served in a different restaurant.
I arrived with a friend at 7:45pm and we sat down at a table in the lobby bar. The area was busy, and there was a nice ambiance in the high-ceilinged room. Our server came by with the first course of our Modern Market Menu, which the hotel was offering throughout the London Restaurant Festival.
The course consisted of a glass of Ridgeview’s Bloomsbury Cuvee Merret with a sampling of oysters from Colchester Oyster Fisheries: natural with shallot vinegar and Tabasco sauce, jellied with watercress, deep fried with tartar sauce and fries, and angels on horseback. It was an inventive selection, and we enjoyed all of them.
After we finished our starters, we were taken downstairs to Axis restaurant at One Aldwych. We had been told our table would be ready upon arrival, but the dining room seemed full. I’m not sure if the server didn’t want us to know, or if there was another explanation, but we were taken to a table at the bar and told that our food was still cooking and would be ready in five minutes.
In the meantime, the server brought out a bottle of Mas de Daumas Gassac Rouge 2006. The wine was dark ruby in color, floral on the nose, and had hints of spice. It tasted good, but it was definitely a wine that needed to be paired with food. Every time our server returned to say “just five more minutes” I kept hoping that it was true.
After around 15 minutes we were seated at our table and our main course arrived. The dish was a roast haunch of Denham Estate venison on caramelized root vegetable puree with chestnut jus. It was absolutely divine, and was one of the best main dishes I had eaten in a long time. The meat was fresh and tender, and the flavors of the venison, vegetables, and sauce blended perfectly. The side dish of shepherd’s pie was a very heavy accompaniment, but it tasted good and I finished all of it.
After dinner our server took us upstairs to Indigo restaurant at One Aldwych. There we were shown to our table, which overlooked the lobby bar.
Dessert came shortly thereafter. It was a Pixley Farm blackberry, elderberry, and sloe gin jelly with clotted cream ice cream and blackberry mousse. The fruit flavors were intense without being too sweet, and the ice cream provided a nice contrast. We enjoyed the course and the ambiance of the restaurant until it was time to go.
As we left our London Restaurant Festival meal at One Aldwych, we agreed that it had been a great evening. The progressive dinner was an enjoyable change from the usual three-courses-in-one-place experience, and I looked forward to seeing what was in store for next year.