SANTA CLAUS CAME IN LATE LAST NIGHT
DRUNK ON CHRISTMAS WINE
I'm quite partial to a bit of Christmas cheer: a mince pie here, a hot
toddy there, a nice bit of Palestrina's Missa Papae Marcelli whilst sipping a chilled manzanilla on Christmas morning and thinking about
stuffing the turkey. So when some friends told me they had got a table at December's hot ticket The Reindeer I was very happy. The Reindeer is a one-time only Restaurant and Theatre event which has been running since the beginning of December and closes just before Christmas when all the fixtures and fittings will be auctioned off. It's on the floor above Spitalfield's Upmarket and had been done out like Santa's Grotto, all pine trees, log cabins and glittery stuff. I was a bit disappointed then that I never got to see the man himself although I did meet one of his pixie helpers at the entrance and very comely she was too. I was the first to arrive so I got into the spirit of things with a few glasses of champagne while grooving to the pianist playing pop hits restyled as cocktail lounge tunes.
For a temporary restaurant above a car park the food was pretty good (as the head chef was from Bistrotheque I expected as much). Decent bread and butter preceded a terrine of foie gras which was rich and dense and didn't stint on the liver and there were some rather good looking scallops as well. It doesn't happen too often but I went for the fish for the follow-up: a lovely tranche of haddock wrapped in parma ham served with some cockles and a bit of sauce. The fish had been cooked perfectly so that it broke up in flakes rather than mush. I had a taste of some rather good rib steak served on the bone and some slightly relentless risotto. I finished off with a very alcoholic individual trifle. They even managed to come up with a good double espresso and a glass of grappa. Service was excellent as well although the bar manager did confess to me that people were starting to flag a bit as the restaurant's run came to a close.
Afterwards we moved to Hawksmoor where we had a couple of rounds of well-made (as always) cocktails. My friends had trains to catch so I stayed on to talk and have more cocktails (take a bow Jorge).
It was late when I eventually left and as I made my way down the quiet streets I heard something above me. There was a basso profundo chortle punctuated by what I can only describe as sleigh bells. I looked up. The skies were empty. One too many cocktails, I suppose. I shoved my hands deeper into my pockets, quickened my pace and continued my journey home.
PS And I didn't use the phrase "guerrilla restaurant" once...damn.