It’s Sunday morning and im sitting in my kitchen, listening to Nigel Slater’s Desert Island discs waiting for Elix to come home as I am going to make her breakfast. Later today I am going to have my first attempt at macaroons as my friend Nicki as asked if I can try to make them for her wedding favours…no doubt my impending failure at this (have seen so many go wrong on Masterchef Australia) will appear on my blog at some point soon!
Anyway, I thought I would tell you about my lovely Friday evening out at the Grill at the Dorchester with my dear friend Briony. Bri and I met when we both worked at Hays in Manchester following our graduations from uni. Bri had settled in Manchester after attending Manchester Uni and I was back at home on somewhat of a gap year whilst I applied for jobs in London. I wasnt made out for recruitment but Bri had a real skill for it and is now super important at her agency in London! For some reason Bri’s candidates couldn’t understand or pronounce her name and we would have many a laugh at their attempts to ask for her by name on the phone. She was called Brian Turner, Brinny Turney and, my favourite (which she is in my phone to this day….) Brown Turkey! Is it worrying that on that day when I answered the phone and was asked ” Hi, can I speak with Brown Turkey?” – I knew exactly who the man (Emmanuel I believe he was called) wanted……
I was extremely excited when Bri and her boyfriend decided to move down South last year and since she has moved back we have enjoyed lots of dinners out and drinks and each time I have a lovely, lovely time!
On Friday we made use of a Top Table offer at the Grill at the Dorchester – we like to go somewhere new and as we hadn’t seen each other in a while decided to treat ourselves. I was early (I always over estimate the time it takes to get anywhere) and sat at the bar with a Hendricks and Tonic nibbling on the olives and nuts mixes wondering if people were questioning my motives for being there alone – especially as I ended up sitting next to a sleazy man with slicked back, wet-look gelled hair and wearing a light-grey suit with a shirt unbuttoned to half way down his chest and patent loafers with no socks……Luckily Bri arrived after not too long (she got there at the agreed time) and we just about made our reservation in time as we were straight away incredibly caught up in catching up!
Our 3 course menu somehow ended up being 8 courses and so I wont be going through each and every course as not only would it take ages, im sure it would be very boring for you to read so I will give you the highlights…..
The bread basket we were presented with contained stilton bread, rosemary and parmesan roll, multi-seed baguette, honey and fig roll, alongside this came the butter plate which included olive oil butter, burnt butter and……well, I thought the waitress said chocolate butter, but, as I excitedly started to spread it on some stilton bread (do not even ask me why I thought chocolate butter would taste nice on stilton bread..I was so excited about what I assumed would basically be nutella I wasnt thinking straight) Bri corrected me and said she thought the waitress said charcoal butter…..I confirmed this with my first bite! The charcoal butter was oddly nice, it was quite bitter and did taste as you would imagine – like coal….but the shock to my poor taste-buds which were expecting creamy, hazelnut, chocolate sweetness and were delivered with a savoury, burnt, BBQ flavoured butter made for a confusing start to the meal – Bri was hysterical at this point – understandably!
Before our starters arrived we were brought the best amuse bouche I’ve ever had! “Why was it so good?” I sense you wondering….it combined my favourite foods – red mullet, capers and the best fruit in the world….watermelon! A chilled watermelon soup with a small piece of seared red mullet and a caper puree – it succeeded in refreshing our pallets (much needed after the charcoal butter on stilton bread saga) and looked very pretty….
Fast forward a few more courses – our starters of my seared mackerel with beetroot and balsamic, Bri’s lamb tartare which she enjoyed even though she forgot it would be raw and consequently was surprised when it arrived (im starting to understand why the staff had little smirks on their faces when they came over – this meal was clearly wasted on us – two girls expecting chocolate butter and a cooked tartare….). Another amuse bouche of chilled pea soup and then the mains. Bri’s hake looked lovely and she said it was tasty and light, my pork belly with apple and Isreali couscous was delicious, tangy, sticky and sweet pork belly with refreshing apple puree and apple balls on top of a rich, earthy pork couscous and some very crispy, salty crackling. As you will see from the picture , the dish was huge and defeated me.
We waited a while before deciding on dessert as we were very full and needed a strategic break. In the end I controversially elected sweetcorn cream with sour cherry, mango and caramel, Bri went for the hazelnut moelleux with chocolate soil and mascarpone ice-cream. Bri was disgusted with my decision of sweetcorn for dessert – at the time I justified it saying “well i could never make this at home” but now, upon contemplating the choices I had and Bri’s dessert I obviously cant and will never be able to make the chocolate bomb and soil which Bri ate and neither could I make the other choices on the menu of a parfait with rum ice and coconut foam so I can only conclude that through overeating and a glass of Malbec too many I was chatting absolute nonsense!
A final amuse bouche course arrived which was fennel foam, champagne and grapefruit granita – i thought this was lovely and the most refreshing of all the extras we had received, Bri didnt like it but I think this was because he had a massive mouthful of fennel without any of the sour grapefruit or the sweet champagne.
Now, the sweetcorn dessert, hmmmmm……..the sour cherry, caramel popcorn and mango were beautiful…the sweetcorn mousse confused me a lot! I’m not sure whether it wasn’t chilled enough, or was a bit grainy in texture, or, just the fact that it was sweetcorn mousse but it was very sickly, in a way, the perfect accompaniment to the sour cherry and sharp mango. Bri and I ended up pondering whether sweetcorn and pop corn were the same thing…a stupid thing to wonder i know, but eating them together on the same plate and realising they tasted exactly the same was a revelation to me….Bri’s comment made my night…..”they’re exactly the same….but not…..” and on that note – before you all despair with the two of us….il sign off!