Oh lucky me! On one of the hottest nights of the year I get to enjoy on a one day only pop-up restaurant on a boat!
A beautiful Thames-side walk from Hammersmith to Chiswick, gazing at cream-painted seaside style houses with bowed picture windows overlooking the tides, with jasmine and honeysuckle in full bloom, led me to the boat 'Cecilia'. On the upper deck sat 40 guests, chairs sliding gently towards the dock. An inspired cocktail of orange bitters and Cava in my hand, I picked at marinated olives and prawns.
I've always wanted to live on a boat and the owner/chef Charlie allowed me to spy inside the surprisingly spacious interior. The bathroom was particularly luxurious and the spa-sized bathtub doubled up as a champagne cooler.
Upstairs some last minute guests turned the layout into a squeeze for the waitress, we all pitched in and moved our table. For many it was their first experience of a supperclub: "After this any normal restaurant will seem boring" exclaimed one older gentleman.
This dinner was the second sitting of the day, Charlie, her co-chef Eliza and team had already done lunch for 35, and local riverside restaurant Pissaros (surely a great bet for lunches with a view and it looked reasonably priced) had lent them tablecloths for dinner.
Charlie did prep the courses in another kitchen, she is a full time caterer. Emily O'Hare, sommelier at The River Café, gave warm humorous chats between courses on the wine matches she'd chosen. The 'Bera Cannelli 'Moscato d'Asti' 2009 was a revelation, light, mildly alcoholic at 6°, tasting of elderflowers, the perfect pudding choice for this balmy summer's eve. There still aren't enough women in wine: Emily runs a facebook group 'Women, know your wines and help me prove a point!'. My friend and head waitress for The Underground Restaurant, Alissia Durbridge, talked to me of a Bordeaux 'en primeur' tasting for 800 people, and only 10 of them were women, mostly wives.
As a long cheeseboard was handed down the table, we watched a red moon rise over the trees, a partial eclipse.
Crab, avocado, cucumber and watercress salad with dill & Maldon salt flatbread. Fresh and light starter.
Rare roasted beef fillet with thyme and rosemary infused jus; beetroot dauphinoise, seasonal vegetables, rocket and a piquant horseradish creme fraiche sauce. I had a pastry wrapped artichoke bottom.
Elderflower jelly with redcurrants, lemon syllabub, almond feather biscuits (crunchy and delicious) with raspberries and vanilla cream. Dark Chocolate mousse cake.