About Time You Tried: La Belle AssietteBy Alicia Grimshaw
We can’t lie anymore – the About Time team aren’t a dab hand in the kitchen. We call ourselves the one pot queens, as we tend to just bang everything into a casserole dish à la Deliciously Ella (minus the weird chia seeds and 14 different types of agave syrup). If it takes more than an hour to prepare – we’re out, and if the recipe asks us to julienne a potato, then it’s a no go.
Sure, we know the best places in London for a buttery Hollandaise sauce and the perfect runny yolks, but trying to whip it up in our own kitchen is another story. There’s a fundamental problem that we’ve found – we love throwing dinner parties, but the food we cook tends to be mediocre, and we’re often running frantically back and forth to the kitchen incase our al dente broccoli turns into a pile of mush. We’re a bit like Bridget Jones with the blue soup number and marmalade on toast – it’s in the first film (you know when Mark Darcy comes round).
So when we heard about La Belle Assiette, we jumped at the chance to try this sassy service. Ever fancied throwing a dinner party, but not having to cook? Yes, the answer is yes. Here’s what you need to know:
La Belle Assiette: What
The idea is simple: La Belle Assiette works with over 200 professional and creative chefs across the UK (including 100 that are London based) to bring the restaurant experience into your home. In a few clicks, choose a menu created by a local chef and book directly online, and you can even split the bill with your friends online; so there’s no need for all the awkward after dinner bill-splitting fiasco. But it doesn’t stop there – dietary requirements are also taken care of. In our party we had a dairy-free queen, 1 kosher king, a pescatarian, and one meat eater who doesn’t eat fish, with the menu created by French maestro, Philippe, who took on board all of the above to create a stirling three course menu.
Once you’ve chosen from one of the website’s huge range of set menus, your personal chef will buy fresh ingredients, prepare your meal, act as waiter for the evening, and will clean up after. Thus, giving you more time to fully concentrate on playing Trival Pursuit or discussing pressing issues such as Brexit, or the inflation of Tesco’s meal deals.
La Belle Assiette: The Food
Before we get starting on the food, we should mention that Philippe, our fantastic chef set the table, printed out name cards and menus, and was in the kitchen chopping and preparing before our guests arrived.
After taking a pew at our own dining table, the salmon marinated ‘Japanese style’ with shiso cress and sesame seed starter was served. The salmon coated in this glorious Japanese glaze, and just seared was really something quite special. Light, refreshing and a slight zesty bite from the shiso cress – the starter was a parade of flavours.
For the fish hater, the fresh buffalo mozzarella topped with freshly made avocado salsa, balsamic syrup and rocket cress equally went down a treat. And the parmesan tuile, a sort of baked wafer added a delicate crunch.
Main course was another dish of success. We were presented corn fed chicken stuffed with herbs, carrot puree, asparagus and rosti potatoes in a wild mushroom sauce. The chicken was, thankfully, not dry. Everything worked on the plate, with the mushroom cream sauce and crispy potatoes smashing. And those potatoes put my mother’s own potato creations to shame.
The dairy-free gal was catered for, with a special dish of all of the above minus the mushroom cream sauce. The veggie and kosher guests were served a vegetable tian with mixed vegetables served alongside basil and goat’s cheese. The vegetable tian was super fresh – finished with asparagus and green pesto. We’re all about eating your 5-a-day at About Time.
And no dinner party would be complete without the perfect sweet ending – we were served a trio of desserts, including a fine apple tart with frangipane, feuillantine of nougatine with fresh raspberries and a chocolate tart. They were all glorious for their own reasons. The chocolate tart was chocolate-y, gooey and rather moreish, and the apple tart was also a hit. We want it all over again, please.
No forgetting our dairy-queen pal, the feuillantine of nougatine with fresh fruit and red coulis also went down a storm. If there were seconds, they would have been eaten.
La Belle Assiette: The Verdict
We love exploring London, and finding new restaurants that we talk about for weeks after. But, if we’re being really honest, this dinner has been a hot topic of conversation for a long time; for all the right reasons. Philippe was a wizard in the kitchen, the food was tip top, and the company wasn’t too shabby either. If you’re in the mood for something outside of the norm, we can’t recommend La Belle Assiette enough.
For more information, visit their website here.