London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Tuesday, May 14, 2013

ABSOLUT Elyx Single Estate Sharing Feast Menu (Mark Hix)

Oysters and meat

Vodka; a pretty standard spirit, right? Great with a slice of lime and soda water, or spruce it up a little and you’ve got a cosmopolitan or for the slightly more adventurous, sex on the beach. Who knew then that there is a lot more to vodka than that...?

It's fair to say, not us! As we idly went about our busy social lives, eating here, drinking there, somewhere, not far from us, the people at ASOLUT Elyxir, (the premium single estate vodka from the Swedish drinks mogul) were quietly beavering away, creating a harmony of new cocktails, all designed to tastily intertwine with a specially created menu at Mark Hix's Chop House and Oyster Bar in Farringdon.

When we visited the Chop House to try out the new ABSOLUT Elyx Single Estate Sharing Feast Menu, it was a quiet Monday night, giving us the opportunity to take full advantage of the large table set up to the rear of the restaurant; not they there was much choice about where we could sit however, because taking part on this special vodka matching menu, means sitting at one table with about 16 to 18 other guests, with a lot of arm friction and knee knocking. The seating arrangement might have felt a bit cumbersome, but it was to pave the way for the rest of the evening, serving up a intimate setting where everyone would tuck into platters of food served in the centre of the table (sometimes putting food to mouth missing our plate out entirely) and find out together the inspiration and execution of each dish and cocktail.

In most cases it would be the food that we would turn most of our attention to, but on this occasion, it was really the drinks that stood out on parade. We started with a simple martini combining the ABSOLUT Elyx with a dry vermouth. It was early in the evening and this really packed a punch. If our palates were whetted when we arrived, they certainly were after sinking a glass of this. Served alongside a variety of oysters (we recommend the deep fried oysters - seafood has never been so utterly divine) and bowls of light and crispy pork crackling, we were transported to foodie heaven. It is perhaps here that we warn you that if you don't drink much, are vegetarian, have dietary requirement or are just damned fussy, this is NOT the menu for you. The Single Estate Sharing Menu is designed perfectly for the bold and adventurous. We continued with a medley of asparagus, raw scallops, huge sides of beef, pork and lamb (perfectly pink in the middle) and a silky slick chocolate and berry meringue, each course married with a medley of cocktails including vodka combined with fennel and lemon (surprisingly very refreshing and not strong on the fennel), another robustly flavoured martini with cherry liquor and, the star of the show, a Smoking in the Sea combining smoked vodka (that's right 'smoked' - on the roof of Selfridges to boot) with lime and falernum, strained over a sorbet of cucumber and wild chervil iceberg. The smoked flavour was a bit over powering for us but gauging the empty glasses around the rest of the table, it was a complete success.

The seasonal and very substantial menu (we all left feeling incredibly stuffed) plus cocktails, comes in at what we think is a generous £70 each: by the time you have eaten four delicious courses, sunk numerous cocktails, had seconds of each dish and paid service, this night out on a normal occasion would set you back a lot more.

In addition to the fantastic food, the exotic cocktails and great service, the concept of sitting with strangers and all tucking in together really heightened the feel-great mood of the evening – having not known anyone at the beginning of the event but the intimate setting of the dinner meant by the end we did not feel afraid to go in for more dessert – again, again, and sometimes again!

Sample menu 

Elyx Martini: ABSOLUT Elyx and Dry Vermouth garnished with Star Anise

Shaved Wye Valley asparagus with Evesham Vale fennel and Caerphilly
Headonism: ABSOLUT Elyx with fennel juice and white wine with a lemon twist served with crushed ice

Marinated Manx queenies with cucumber and wild chervil
Smoking in the Sea: Smoked ABSOLUT Elyx with lime and falernum, strained over cucumber and wild chervil iceberg

Launceston lamb cutlets, Glenarm rib of beef, Paddock farm pork chops, Burrow Hill scrumpy fried potatoes
Cooper Course Martini: ABSOLUT Elyx, Antica Formula, Morello Cherry Liquor from Somerset, Adnams Copper House absinthe served with a cherry garnish

New Forest meringue
Copperface Elyxir: ABSOLUT Elyx, Calvados, apricot brandy, garnished with an orange twist
Elyx Manhattan: ABSOLUT Elyx, Dry vermouth, Lillet Blanc, Sweet red vermouth, orange bitters, garnished with an orange twist

Tickets are £70 and available for booking for 7pm on 20 May, 3 June and 17 June.

36-37 Greenhill Rents, Cowcross Street, EC1M 6BN


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