Will tried to warn me.
It is fair to say that ‘dinner’ last night was one of the weirdest experiences I’ve ever had in a restaurant.
108 Garage is in a buzzy area of Londontown and has a buzzy busy vibe when you arrive. They do that ‘sharing’ tables thing which means as a couple you either share with strangers ( thus spoiling their night when you plonk yourselves at their table) or sit at the bar and watch the action in the kitchen. So, the bar it is.
It is noisy and a wee bit cramped and the stool has no step on it so it’s proper perchy but hey this is London on a Saturday night so cast aside your Northern doubts and enjoy the show.
Which begins in a bit of a haphazard rush.
First off we are asked about water. Tap, please.
Then we are brought some olives. Not keen on em personally but they were nice olives, as olives go, so lovely thank you.
Then brought some pizza/cracker thing with courgette and dill and a hollandaise type gloop. Oh and a mustard daschi. Just as an extra cos it’s cold out, which is nice but , hey, any chance of a drink ??
I have to ask the chef as even though we are sat with the bar behind us no one has asked if we would like a glass of wine. Before the wine arrives, another snack lands . This is great fun. Popcorn which has been liquid nitrogened is popped into a bowl. A paprikaesque powder is shaken over it and we are instructed to ‘eat it immediately and do not drink from the bowl’. Slightly bemused by these instructions we ask why and are told ‘ You won’t feel like a dragon if you don’t ‘. So, we comply. And as the steam comes out if your mouth you do indeed feel like a dragon. This is great fun and I think would have worked perfectly as an introductory course, bearing in mind this is meant to be a tasting menu type of thing. It would also have been great with a glass of wine. Which still hasn’t arrived, weirdly.
Now I admit I am a pain over this next bit. If there are a couple of wines I don’t know I will ask for a taste before deciding which to have. Why ? Well I don’t drink much so want to enjoy what I do have. So we pick a white burgundy which they do in glass carafe or bottle. As there is deer on the menu we ask for a carafe so my other half can choose a red later. The bar guy takes the order. Then comes back and says that as it is their last bottle they can’t do a carafe. WTF is that all about ? First off have you really run out of one of your wines from a list of less than ten on a Saturday night ?? Secondly, given you also sell it by the glass why can’t you do a 500ml carafe?? That makes no sense. Unless of course you are trying to bump us into buying a full bottle because you think we are stoopid. So, that’ll be a carafe of white Rioja instead, please.
I should say at this point, we were still enjoying it. Sometimes you only put all of this stuff together in hindsight.
So, on to the first course proper. Chicken liver parfait dusted with cep powder and served with hunky chunky slices of wholemeal sourdough. Bloody lovely this. The bread is warm, the parfait is cold but still rocketing flavour wise. I could happily just scoff that and glug down my white Rioja.
Which is just as well because now the whole thing gets really weird.
We are given a chicken lollipop kind of thing- Mr Chungs chicken apparently. It is a lovely barbecue chicken thing on a stick. With a spicy sauce. It really is lovely. But we are given one. Between two. The two girls next to us are given one. Each. These are not given to us by a minion but by the chef. He says to us ‘ Sorry there was meant to be two but I dropped one’.
Is it just me but couldn’t you, like, do another one ?
Anyway we don’t say anything cos we had a crap meal out in the Lakes last week so we REALLY want to enjoy this evening.
Plus,it was lovely.
When he takes the plate I say it’s a shame there was only one because that was lovely. He laughs and says ‘ yeah I ate the one I dropped but didn’t think you would want to’. So, we are cool with that if still a bit bemused.
So we eagerly await our next course which is Monks Beard and some other stuff.
And we wait.
And we wait.
And we wait.
The girls that got two chicken things get another course.
They leave, so perhaps it wasn’t a set menu only???
And we wait.
I say to my other half ‘They have forgotten us’.
She looks at me as if to say’ Are you mad ? We are sat at the @&:@£ing bar. How can they forget us ?’
Which is a fair point.
Still we wait.
We finish our wine. It is 10pm and we have had one course from a printed menu of six .
We have happily chatted for an hour without food. The chef has gone from the pass and gone out the back weilding a large drink.
The kitchen staff start to tidy some stuff up and cling film containers. The bar manager refills my water glass and asks if we would like some more.
Perhaps he has overheard us talking about the fact that our food stopped arriving AN HOUR AGO ??
At this point I say we would like the bill as our food stopped after the first course. He is very apologetic but seems weirdly unsurprised. The kitchen staff are still smiling but seem bemused.
Not as bemused as we are, folks !
The front of house guy offers us some food in the house, ‘ to nibble on’ while we finish our wine.
This at least shows that irony is alive and well in London.
He offers and fetches us a sourdough loaf ‘ so at least you will have something in the morning ‘. WTF ?
The chef appears and apologises ‘from my heart’ but also from across the kitchen. No one actually explains what happened.
Then again, how can this be explained?
On the way back I ask my other half if she thinks my joking about the chicken lollipops pissed the chef off so he ‘ pulled’ our food on us. It’s the only explanation I can think of.
She says she doesn’t think so.
As the song almost says …Is she just being kind, or am I losing… ?