The Underground Restaurant

I think it takes an incredibly brave person to open an underground restaurant. I mean, of course it is illegal but apart from that – cooking for 20 odd strangers in your very own home every week might be a bit well, stressful/tiring/anxiety provoking/all of the above? Not a bit of it on Saturday night however, when three friends and I dined at the house of the formidable Ms Marmite Lover – not the faintest flicker of worry on her face.

While Ms ML had been calmly preparing (a fabulous tweet revealed her to be up at 12am the previous night making “fu**ing tarte au citron”), we had been sweating it out on smelly buses. As I’m sure all you Londoners will appreciate, the transport system is never what can be described as fully operational at weekends – TFL somehow always manage to shut the bits that you personally need to use. For this reason then, we made a therapeutic pit stop at the nearby pub for pre-dinner pints before moving on in high spirits towards the restaurant.

Greeted at the door with a welcoming smile and a glass of Kir Semi-Royale, we were instantly absorbed into the warm glow within Ms ML’s home. There was a chance for some pre-dinner mingling with the other diners, which perhaps could better be described as a bit of time for them to ‘get used to us’ and our generally excitable ways.

The house by this point was filled with the delicious smell of our first course – raviolo stuffed with portobello, oyster and button mushrooms with an onion cappuccino (cooked by Charlie Nelson). I’m pretty sure everyone agreed this was really good, particularly that sauce. I mean, onions and cream – need I say more?

Our main was salmon en papillote, served with dill, creme fraiche and aga roasted potatoes. The salmon was very fresh and spring-like and those aga roasted potatoes pleased me no end with their little wrinkly jackets. A rocket and pine nut salad added a hit of greenery and was dressed with a fine vinaigrette – robust, thick and unapologetic – just how I like it.

To finish there was that ‘fu**ing’ lemon tart – well worth Ms ML’s efforts, with a good tart whack of citrus, wonderful smooth texture and a bonus surprise addition of meringues which were really nice and chewy, I suspect due to an ultra-slow cooking in the aga.

Ms ML most definitely scores top marks as a hostess (as does her daughter as waitress), the whole evening was incredibly relaxed and the atmosphere in the room by the end of dinner was, ahem ‘lively’ to say the least. All 18 diners chatting and laughing – our table loudest of all if I remember rightly. We even managed to persuade Chris to give us a little impromptu tinkle on Ms ML’s ivories (not as rude as it sounds), to which I know there was out of tune singing and punching of fists in the air because I have video evidence on my camera.

There was coffee to follow but three hours after arrival we Southerners had to flee lest we miss the last train and be stranded on the wrong side of the river. Terrible things can happen to a Londoner when stranded on the wrong side of the water after midnight you know. Don’t worry though, because sleeping on Ms ML’s camp bed isn’t one of them – yep, she has even been known to accomodate the odd tipsy diner for the night*. Now that’s what I call hospitality.

You can buy tickets for the underground restaurant and cooking classes here.

*please do not take this for granted. I’m saying it happened, not that she runs a hotel too….

Category: Restaurant Reviews, Underground Restaurants 19 comments »

19 Responses to “The Underground Restaurant”

  1. Chris

    Who’s that handsome chap on the last photo? He should be given his own blog.

    Chriss last blog post..The Alba, St. Ives

  2. Niamh

    Nice post! Such a fun night. I’m thinking of doing a cooking class over the next few months.

    Niamhs last blog post..St Patrick’s Day – Chilli Roast Salmon and Potato Salad

  3. Dan

    Looks really good and sounds like you had a fantastic time (which is what its all about really) I’m intrigued by the Onion cappuccino sauce with the Raviolo, what did that consist of?

    Dans last blog post..Breakfast on the Seafront – Sands Bistro.

  4. Helen

    Dan – I have no idea. You will have to ask Charlie Brooker on that one!

  5. Helen

    Sorry – Charlie Nelson. Who the hell is Charlie Brooker?

  6. Jeanne

    Fabulous! Sounds like a fun evening – and clearly Chris is a man of many talents…!

    Jeannes last blog post..My perfect gift…

  7. Mark

    I’ve heard about MsML, it sounds so kooky and fun, I love it! And the food looks good too!

    Marks last blog post..Buying Beer 2: Beer Ventures

  8. Lizzie

    Oh dear – were we really raucous? I spose that’s what happens when we sink 3 pints before dinner..

  9. james

    I like that bit in the Guardian article – ‘Probably the best way to find out about underground restaurants in other towns is to be cool, and know cool people.’ That’s you then…..

    If only I could fit more than 2 people in my little cottage……

    jamess last blog post..Rack of lamb with aubergine and potato gratin and roast courgettes

  10. Daniel

    Sounds like an absolute blast. But my question is, what do you all do when the police come banging down the door? :)

    Dan
    Casual Kitchen

    Daniels last blog post..Recommended Reading for A Good Wine Education

  11. msmarmitelover

    We will all sing happy birthday!
    Thanks Helen for such a lovely report. You were all great! My only regret is that I personally had to stay vaguely compos mentis and couldn’t join you in your rowdy ways…
    Niamh…if you have a cooking class please let me know (as long as it isn’t meat)
    The rose-water meringues were cooked for hours in the ‘simmering’ oven.
    I like Charlie Brooker, but I don’t know what his sauces are like…

    msmarmitelovers last blog post..Rosehip Syrup

  12. Ching Hermosa

    Hmm I have to try this one before really agreeing with your review. But then great inputs by the way.

    Ching Hermosas last blog post..Alcoholic Shakes

  13. Christie @ Fig & Cherry

    Oh how fun! I can’t wait to get back to London to find these little treasures (9 weeks to go, yay!).

  14. Sophie

    This sounds fabulous. Ms Marmite Lover, you are ever so brave (and possibly a little bit crazy?) having all of these people round to your house for tea :-) Especially if you can’t always get rid of them afterwards.

    I wonder if there are underground restaurants around Oxford.

    Sophies last blog post..Italian lentil and chestnut stew

  15. The Shy Chef

    Well, we must be crazy too, because we’re running a secret restaurant from our home in Berlin! If you are ever over, you are all warmly welcome ;-)

    The Shy Chefs last blog post..Booking and cooking

  16. Helen Yuet Ling Pang

    What a fun evening! Next time I return to the Underground Restaurant, it will be as a guest, although I loved my stint as a volunteer in the kitchen!

    Helen Yuet Ling Pangs last blog post..New Tayyabs (Pakistani) – London, England (7.5/10)

  17. Jonathan

    Another super write up. I’m now gagging to go back for an evening of dining al fresco.

    Wish I had seen you guys in action and Chris on the piano. Top stuff.

    Jonathans last blog post..Battered Creme Egg in Bruton

  18. sandraraven15

    Hi! I was surfing and found your blog post… nice! I love your blog. :) Cheers! Sandra. R.

  19. Kai Collins

    Flicker is really great when sharing photos over friends and families. I love the resize feature of Flickr.:”‘


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