It's almost a secret back room, set behind a heavy set leather curtain. But all four of us are slowly starting to lose patience. Even though we've ordered drinks, I watch jealously as people all around us knock back the bubbles and chow down on hotdogs. A few years back, not knowing whether to open up a high end restaurant or a money making champagne and hot dog bar, chef James Knappett and his partner Sandia Chang, cleverly decide on housing both in the same building in Fitzrovia. We're here waiting for the former but those dogs do look good! I'm starting to wonder whether I can sneak one in as a pre-starter.
Our place on the communal kitchen table is booked for 7.30pm. We arrive early at five past, hoping that we may be the first to be shown through so getting first choice of seats. (Not getting a duff table is an ever present obsession). But slightly irritatingly, people who turn up after us are ushered straight through. In hindsight, it's obvious that they have a table plan, of course they do. Nothing has been left to chance. Everything runs like clockwork at The Kitchen Table. Well almost. Our none meat eating friend very nearly gets the same dish as the rest of us, but James Knappett jokily promises that the culprit (who would have been responsible) will still be paying for all the staff's post service KFC later on. We are shown to our seats and begin what will be one of the best nights of food we have in 2014. The very thing that I wasn't so sure about; sitting along a large communal table around the open kitchen, is in fact one of the most enjoyable things about the whole experience. It's so engaging. You never feel that squashed up to others and it's fun, like you're all part of it. There are two sittings so half of the people around you are eating the same dishes at the same time. You often hear the 'oos' and 'ahhs' of appreciation from everybody else. There is quite a bit of that going on tonight.
The food is good. No, the food is superb yet deceptively simple. There are no daft combinations or over fussy elements. The menu changes daily according to what's available in season and what the chef fancies cooking that day, so he tells us. We lap it all up, forgetting ourselves in the moment of sheer indulgence. It is all so fine, it's hard to single out specific dishes. The weakest of the lot were the desserts, although these were still pretty damn good.
The taster menu on the day we visit is chalked up;
Wild black water oyster, kohlrabi, Balfour Rose granite.
Potato puff, Maldon smoked salmon, sour-cream, brown sugar, chives.
Chicken skin, rosemary mascarpone, bacon jam. (A real favourite).
Anchovy, crispy kale, meyer lemon, yoghurt.
Pumpkin timilini pasta, raw chestnuts, chestnut foam, brown butter, white alba truffles. An optional course which we opted to share. It was wonderful, well worth the £30 extra.
Roe deer venison tartar, mustard seed, pickled walnut, anchovy cream, barley crisp, cured egg.
Roasted venison, peid de muton mushroom, parmesan cream, black Tuscan winter truffles, bacon, deer sauce and Brussels sprouts.
Venison ragout, beer pickled onions, parsnip purée and crispy parsnips.
Rouelle, black pepper short bread, sorrel and Shropshire honey.
Goat curd ice cream with dried raspberries.
Madagascar vanilla fudge with sea salt.
The service from host Sandi and the team is wonderful; knowledgeable, friendly and engaging without being overly intrusive. It's kind of like the best private dinner party you could imagine and your hosts have a Michelin Star (deservedly awarded at the end of last year).
Instead of chalking down Kitchen Table as another great restaurant that we've done with no need to go back, we just want to return and do it all again.
10 Best Meals of 2014.