The venue for the seven course contemporary tasting menu was a bijou 30 seat restaurant The Bagelry in China Town. Hanging plants, paper Chinese lanterns and soft candle lighting, along with a background of clearly very carefully chosen vinyl provided a convivial atmosphere that was neither simplistic or pretentious.
We were greeted with a warm welcome from Eddie himself, looking as relaxed as only someone can who’s made sure they’ve done their homework before the exam.
It’s hard to imagine Eddie breaking a sweat to get the service to the table, whether that was in the two days preparation at his West Allerton home, or before the guests arrived. The service was smooth, surprising for a pop up where you aren’t sure of the venue. Plating took centre stage and the team had been well briefed and were excited to be part of the event.
With a bag of popcorn to snack on whilst we selected our drinks – (prosecco with blackberry gin, blackberry and thyme) we waited for the final guests to arrive, soaking up anticipation and devouring the menu.
The first course offered an inspired introduction to Eddies food and set the bar for the rest of the meal. Rich chicken liver pate enclosed in salty, crispy chicken skin, and tiny potato skins with truffle was entertaining and fun finger food that was certainly only for grownups.
Possibly the most memorable course for me was the Mackerel with forced rhubarb and delicately pickled rhubarb. Pretty as a picture, and carefully thought out, the puffed rice introduced texture and complemented the soft mackerel.
Most innovative was the introduction of a cabbage course, served with a powerful umami rich XO sauce, served with a glass of fermented cabbage juice to drink between mouthfuls. Whilst challenging I found it surprisingly refreshing. It turned out to be the favourite course of the evening for the lady at the next table.
Whilst the main course was a rich, melt in the mouth ox cheek ragu lasagne, it was quickly blown away by the amusing icy Mojito bombs with popping candy. These were guzzled and slurped with us greedy folk begging for more and were delighted when more were produced.
This was clever, unpretentious and engaging food that left the guests smiling and curious for the next course. Our only disappointment? The two empty seats somebody somewhere was missing a treat!