Monday, 12 July 2010

Spain V Germany: The Ultimate World Cup Pub (bar & restaurant) Crawl

By Cat McGovern

I’ve often walked past Bistro K, power walking my way to Hummingbird Bakery and Snog at South Kensington. I’ve always been intensely intrigued but never actually ventured in, until now. Fortunately tonight I’m watching the football here, so I can see what really goes on within. Tables sit on the terrace and overlook the busy Old Brompton Road with a huge white parasol protecting customers from the elements. Pushing open the glass doors, we enter into a sleek and surprisingly very big venue with beautiful front windows that make it easy to people-watch whilst eating.

We go to our table, which is right in front of the 50-inch plasma screen, and order some wine. I try to pronounce it and fail, so instead feebly point at it on the menu and hope for the best. The boyfriend scoffs, “Well, it’s Gewürztraminer obviously.”

“Riiiight. OK, yes, that please.”

It’s quite an unusual wine, hectic in flavour and aroma. Lychee, kiwi and honey scented, almost like a dessert wine, it really is an interesting tipple.

When the bread is placed on our table, I let the boyfriend chomp it because everyone knows that if you eat bread on an empty stomach, you fill up too quickly. I watch him take delight in every morsel. I’m jealous, so I cave, and take some myself. You know a place is going to be good when the bread is spectacular. Whoops, just got through three bits, better slow down.

Our starters arrive just in time before I’m given the chance to eat all the bread. I’ve gone with crab salad, whereas the boyfriend has a cucumber gazpacho. Both are very professionally presented and I dig in eagerly. The salad is light with a tang of acidity in the dressing. The smooth avocado mousse blends excellently with the crab. The juxtaposition of the delicate flaked crab with the crunchy vegetables is sublime. I peer over at the gazpacho longingly. The boyfriend takes pity on me and offers me a bit. Essentially it’s a cucumber soup with ribbons of cucumber and a horseradish cream; a perfect summer dish.

3 minutes into the match and there’s a pitch invader. ‘Wa-hay!’ shouts the boyfriend.

The mains are presented to us without much time to breathe: organic poached salmon and stuffed chicken breast. The salmon tastes so pure, it’s quite simply the best salmon I have ever had. Already great on its own, the addition of the hollandaise really brings the fish alive. Their accompaniments, crushed potatoes served in a brass pot, are amazing. The chives, butter, and sea salt make for a great potato treat.

I’m not even three bites into my main and the boyfriend’s wine, which goes with his chicken, is placed on the table. I say placed, I mean poured all over my back and my main. And it’s red wine. I am sufficiently soaked from my hair to my hips and they don’t even have hand dryers! I soldier on and a replacement main is brought out, thank goodness it’s so wonderful or I might’ve walked out in a huff. Unfortunately, during this kerfuffle, the boyfriend has eaten his main. Greedy so and so, but I try some of the fancy sauce that he’s left behind: a foie gras foam that is rich and indulgent, two things I really like.

I look up occasionally to see what’s going on in the football, and the answer is: not much. The boyfriend agrees and digs deep into his strawberry panna cotta, served in a martini glass. It’s very sweet with a layer of strawberry on top and a fluffy vanilla mousse beneath. The second dessert, the raspberry soufflé, is not as impressive as the other dishes. Although it is cooked perfectly, I don’t think the tartness of the raspberry is fitting for a soufflé.

By half time, we’ve already eaten our whole meal. All served speedily with little time to contemplate. Fortunately for me, all dishes have been very light because normally by dessert I am crying for the food to stop coming. But in this case, I am content.

An Irish coffee cocktail somehow makes its way to our table and, as I’m not a fan of coffee, I politely take a sip and subtly move it over to the boyfriend.

As we’re finished and I’m more than a bit wet, we decide to head off and catch the second half at home. Hopefully it will be more exciting this half, let’s wait and see.

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