Monday, 23 February 2009

MsMarmitelover's Underground Restaurant

"So is it actually underground?"

"Is it on the tube network?"

"Erm. You've got the wrong end of the stick."

It's a slightly illicit dinner party masquerading as a restaurant. And it's great. It's the most exciting foodie happening I've come across in ages. I've long been interested in underground restaurants, having read about them on a trends site called PSFK.

So Cowie and I trekked off to Kilburn in search of a mystery restaurant in MsMarmitelover's living room. I was itching with excitement, and sweating with frustration as God threw everything out of his pram in his attempt to stop us getting there! First, he took out the Northern Line. Then he swiped the Jubilee line to one side. Then he removed all cabs from North West London. And then the only cab he allowed to carry on working was crippled by an engine that limited it to 2mph. Or so it felt.

We arrived and rang the doorbell. Hoping not to interrupt a nice family's evening meal. And were welcomed with great warmth and charm by MsMarmitelover's wonderful sister and daughter. A glass of Kir Royale loosened our tongues and warmed us up for the room of foodie strangers that awaited.

The dining room is charming. Decorated by someone who clearly has a keen eye for detail and an artists flair. Idiosynctatically framed black and white photographs make the room feel slightly like a gallery. In a good way. Our fellow illicit diners were buzzing. There was a glow. The sort of energy that most restaurants utterly lack. Intimacy in spades. We felt at home.

Restaurant scene

We quickly befriended Magnus and Wendy who now feel like lifelong friends. And settled in for the most memorable meal since El Bulli.

Before the food started to arrive we were all invited to buy a ticket for the wine raffle... which had a brilliantly high success rate! This was one of many little touches that made the evening such a triumph. Inspired by this I've created the night's menu in London Tube Map format...

We started with a tangy, tom yum soup and loved the minty freshness of its garnish. And we got seconds! Served from a huge cauldron with an enormous ladle.

Tom yum soup

Shortly after we had devoured our soup, we were served a crisp salad. It was lightly dressed and adorned with toasted pine nuts. It was a very clever way of buying some time whilst the main course cooked. Hats off to Charlie, the retired 24 year old chef, for this one.

Pinenut salad

We loved the fact that each table was given its own salad which encouraged us all to share and join in the fun together.

And then came the main course. Provided by Patricia from La Fromagerie, the baked Vacherin were oozing with decadence, garlic and white wine. And accompanied by freshly baked focaccia, gherkins and pickled onions. And some perfectly roasted new potatoes. Gloriously naughty. Who needs meat when you've got cheese as wicked as this.

Baked Vacherin 2

With the hard work out of the way MsMarmitelover emerged like a victorious chef to have a chat her guests in the dining room. And invited us to have a look at her kitchen, where the tarte tatin was about to be finishe off.

Tarte tatin in the pan

It looked even better when it emerged from the Aga, wafting its sweet, homely smell around the house.

Tarte tatin

And it tasted wonderful. Like sticky, toffee apples, but with the added goodness of cream and pastry!

Tarte tatin with cream

We lingered over our desserts and chatted about food, drink and life. Giddy on the joys of good company and fine food. Some very old Courvoisier cognac rounded the evening off perfectly.

It was a fabulous evening. One of life's great moments. We've been raving about our experience to anyone who will listen. It's put our recent, disappointing restauarant experiences into perspective. It isn't always all about the food. Many a top end restaurant falls foul of this. The atmosphere in MsMarmitelover's living room makes this London's most exciting place to go for dinner.

If you're interested in getting a table, you'd better have a look at the booking details on MsMarmitelovers blog and book it now.


Bixle said...

Fantastic, Browners. I've got to give this a try.

Browners said...

You really must. Just get in touch with MsMarmitelover.

Manne said...

I must say, you are an incredibly creative writer Browners. ;) Very good writeup.

// Manne

Browners said...

Hi Manne, thanks for your kind words. It's hard not to write creatively about a place like this.

Anonymous said...

I visited the Hidden Kitchen in Paris last year, and I, too, enjoyed the community-eating vibe of underground restaurant dining. My one disappointment was finding myself in Paris and eating with a room of non-French. :-)

Browners said...

The Hidden Kitchen sounds fun. Although as you say, so much of the charm of underground / secret restaurants is the friendly, idiosyncratic charm of the community who dine there.

Anonymous said...

Am a big fan of Ms Marmitelover's new restaurant. I went there a couple of weeks ago and throroughly loved it. Sounds like the menu is getting tastier and tastier!

Browners said...

Hi Food Rambler. I've read your review and saw your piece in the paper. It's such a fun place isn't it?

What did you think of Horton Jupiter's Secret Ingredient?

Max mickle said...

I've been gone to Ms Marmitelover's last 2 month ago and I agree it's a place no one should miss. They have great food and service and I visit frequently.thank you for shearing your post.

bed frame said...
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