15 December 2012
“Quarter after eight? If you get here at six-thirty,” Owen's friendly Scots voice emerged from the telephone receiver, “we can have you out in good time for THE HOBBIT at the Ritzy.” So we booked our table for two, and arrived promptly, and settled into a grand meal: Lardo / shaving of apple / chestnut, salt-fat / sweet / vehicle, with cider; pleasantly bitter gently sauteed sprout tops, little intense crumples of chlorophyll, with flecks of anchovy and an amiable dry white; venison haunch, SO flavourful!, parsley-root mash, and walnuts both pickled and in kernel, and a decent red that came into its own after a forkful of the venison; then, to finish, pear poached in wine with semisweet-chocolate mousse and a muscat. That was the plan. Indeed, Owen would have had us out the door laughing and timely; but we opted for the cheese board, another glass of red and generous portions of a delicately ricotta-like chevre, a reserved Scots cheddar, and a powerful stunner of an English Gorgonzola — schedule demolished, then — and with a “Good Heavens, look at the time!” we were down the stairs and out the door. Not to worry. The dwarves, with Gandalf and Bilbo, disembarked from the eagles onto the crag from which Erebor was visible looming faraway, the audience took off its 3D glasses and disassembled itself as twos and ones into the evening fog, and we hurried back to Salon, past an expostulating security guard, and up the stairs again for our pudding, among the washing-up and receipts-counting, eavesdropping on Nick the chef at the next table as the orders for the next day's supplies went onto various wholesalers' answering machines. Delicious and excitingly novel, interesting food; friendly and obliging staff; a truly memorable night — the glow lasted all the way down Coldharbour Lane to Loughborough Junction and through Camberwell.