First things first, Happy New Year and welcome to 2013, discerning readers!
A fortnight before Christmas, mid afternoon you’d have found me strutting my way down Upper Street in Islington towards John Salt. The timing hadn’t worked out for the more desirable house brick licking dinner upstairs, but I’d wanted to eat there anyway so lunch it had to be. I was looking forward to it. I’d eaten Ben’s cooking a while back at Roganic and it had been bloody impressive.
I pulled up a seat opposite the chef, cooking an arms length away on an induction hob and waited…
Waited some more….
In an impressive case of customer service bullock dropping, I was being completely ignored. No one said anything to me, the young guy cooking so close I could have reached across and given him a polite slap around the chops with a chicken smeared house brick had his head down and seemed intent on not meeting my enquiring looks and polite coughs. The barman had also wandered off down the other end of the room. I sat there relentlessly ageing, wondering what the hell was going wrong here and hoping that someone would break the stalemate soon.
But wait, what’s this…
A sudden, hissed, barely overheard angry conversation between the chef and the barman concerning my seemingly awkward appearance. Yes I’d asked for lunch at the bar. No I didn’t have any cutlery. The barman stomped away again. My stomach grumbled.
At this point, deciding that potentially I’d like to eat today, I became captain of my own dining destiny and put it directly to the chef
‘What happens here then mate, do I order through you or what?’
Looking up, eyes returning my gaze for the first time he acknowledged that I could indeed place my order with him and just like that, the very fucked up ‘Ignore Dan’ spell was abruptly broken. Cutlery appeared, and then the barman with a drinks menu and the show very definitely trundled its raggedy ass onto the road.
Determined to recover from the shaky start and extract every last ounce of pleasure out of proceedings, I ordered the six course tasting menu and decided to let the chef pick what dishes to cook for me.