‘Tis the season to be jolly, spend lots of money and consume countless calories at Christmas dos. Just these past few days, I’ve been to two such events and wanted to share one with you.
My work Christmas lunch was at The Old House this year. It was chosen through a democratic voting process among the whole team and the menu sounded lush. So, on a rainy December’s lunchtime, all 30-odd of us piled into the Devonshire Street bar/restaurant. We were in good spirits, having just exchanged our Secret Santa gifts back at the office.
Though some of us felt a bit disappointed at not being seated at one or two long tables and instead being split over seven tables, the atmosphere was lovely and there were some nice festive touches about the place. These included Christmas crackers on the table, leading to some spinning top competitions and the telling of countless naff jokes.
I settled in with three of the other girls from the office, gabbing about our Christmas plans, the X Factor and reality TV. We had a couple of drinks while waiting for our food.
We all had the same starter: beetroot-cured salmon tartare with crispy quail’s egg, horseradish cream and bagel chips.
It was actually just one big bagel chip, a very thinly-sliced crispy sliver of bagel (I can never cut a bagel open in a straight line, so even this impressed me). More impressive was the crispy quail’s egg, which had had a very light dusting of fine breadcrumbs before being fried, but still had a runny middle. The star of the dish should have been the salmon, which was delicious and pretty to look at, but the quail’s egg impressed me the most. Especially having wrestled with several of the blighters earlier in the year for the sake of some homemade haddock scotch eggs.
I’d gone left field (for me) with my main course. For reasons I can no longer remember, when we did our pre-order I’d eschewed the meaty main options of cider-glazed slow poached turkey or braised beef rib in stout & Henderson’s relish and instead selected the fish option! Very unlike me. I’m glad I did though, look how pretty my dish was:
This pan-roasted fillet of coley with an anchovy and thyme crust was served with roast garlic mash and creamed leeks. The mash was creamy and that roast garlic packed a punch. The creamed leeks were next-level good and complemented the fish perfectly. I also had some of the roast potatoes (decent, homemade, vast quantity) that had been brought over for the table to share, and some sprouts too. These were hotter than the sun but properly-cooked, retaining a crunch; no school dinner Brussels sprouts here. On the Christmas veg front, I’m a sprout lover but a parsnip hater, so abstained from sampling any of the latter, which also featured in the communal veg selection.
I was pleased to have room for my dessert, which was chocolate mousse with hazelnut brittle and peppermint ice cream. Another good-looking dish, The Common Room have nailed thoughtful presentation:
The mousse itself had an unexpected texture, it wasn’t smooth and airy but instead had little bits of chocolate in it and felt almost a bit grainy in places. It was tasty enough though. The hazelnut brittle was very pretty to look at but I wasn’t too bothered about the taste and trying to pick bits of solid caramel out of your teeth around colleagues is never a good look. The peppermint ice cream was lush, with a strong and refreshing hit of mint.
After whiling the rest of the afternoon away by sampling a few of The Old House’s gins and chatting to teammates, it was time to move on. Some people went home, some carried on drinking until late into the night. I’ll leave you to decide which camp I fell into…
At £18.95pp for three courses, this was a really good value way to celebrate Christmas and there was enough variety on the menu to please everyone. Plus, they managed to feed all of us at the same time, something which some establishments struggle with when there’s a big group in.
Thanks to The Old House for a great Christmas do and to my colleagues for being so much fun to celebrate with.