Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Eat: Dinner at the British Consulate, a Pop-Up

There's a blurry line between "underground restaurant" and "pop-up restaurant," though one of my fellow attendees at this past weekend's pop-up opined that "underground" is technically illegal, and "pop-up" is just in a non-restaurant venue--i.e., legal.

Whether legal or illegal, it was awesome. Eat hosted a pop-up dinner at the British Consulate, featuring a British-inspired menu. This was my first foray into the underground/pop-up world in Boston, and it was a smashing success.

First, the British Consulate. I've no idea how they got that space, but let's just say that the Brits have their conference room lighting down to an art. The meal was held in the lobby and a large conference room, both equipped with automatic chain-mail curtains and automatic lighting worthy of a Pink Floyd concert. It was full dark outside, but the lighting stayed at a perfect 9-AM-sunlight-just-coming-through-the-curtains setting the whole time. Sometimes pink, sometimes blue, but always bright-daylight-esque. Everyone was impressed. James Bond jokes abounded.

Second, the meal itself. Cocktail hour featured a local Berkshires-made gin, Greylock Gin, in Tom Collinses for everyone. Appetizers were haggis on toast, grilled cheese sandwiches with mango chutney, and boar sausage wrapped in puff pastry. There was a string quartet playing Beatles songs. There were quite a lot of people there, I'd say at least 60 or 70, far more than I was expecting. But that's the best part of this kind of dinner--being able to interact with all the strange new people. It's much more fun, and intimate, than a restaurant meal.

First course: Seared foie gras on a crumpet with maple gel, HP powder, and pickled berries. Imagine breakfast, with foie gras. A crumpet is sort of like a cross between a waffle and an English muffin. Best of all, the lady beside me didn't want her foie gras, so I got a double portion.

Second course: chicken korma soup with fiddlehead ferns. The lighting changed to a blue setting for this course, which is why the soup looks blue. It wasn't actually. They added a dusting of fenugreek to give the whole thing a curry vibe.

Third course: a riff on bangers and mash. An Earl Grey-smoked duck sausage with egg, grilled tomato, brussels sprout, and local fried egg. The sausage and the egg were the best parts.

Main course: locally-caught hake (not cod as per the menu) wrapped in a sort of pastry shell, with basil tartar sauce. The fish was excellent, light and flaky, and I really liked the basil tartar sauce. My husband said it was the best fish he'd ever had. Note pink lighting.

Dessert: Sticky toffee pudding, sort of deconstructed. The plates were fun, but beware of serving food on a sloping plate. A good portion of everyone's dessert ended up sliding off the plate onto the table.

The wine was by Bear Flag, which I'd had in California, so it was good to see a wine that I was already familiar with.

It's heartening to see such a lively alternative restaurant scene in Boston; I'm looking forward to attending a lot more of these, now that we're settled in. Maybe I can finally get my own underground restaurant up and running.

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