I’ve spoken a little bit on my blog about my experiences of flatsharing in London. It was the best of times, it was the worst of times. I met some of the best people ever and well, not some of the worst per se but definitely some of the messiest. Now I live with just Andrew I often think back to flatsharing and wonder how I did it for so long (four years in a house of eight people!). All the passive-aggressive (or sometimes just plain aggressive) emails and notes, the sticky floors after parties, people smoking in the house, every single god-damn piece of crockery being chipped. Argh! But it was fun a lot of the time too.
And on Friday night I got to take a little trip down memory lane: I was invited to a house party. A secret, speak-easy, pop-up style house party (oh do stop rolling your eyes – it was actually good).
The “house party” was hosted in a slightly bleak stretch of Notting Hill Gate, in a venue formerly known as The Blag Club (which, weirdly, I reviewed years ago when I worked for ViewLondon – got to love that very 00s name!). The club has had a makeover (or should that be under) to look like a sort of Friends meets Men Behaving Badly venue. Think weird wallhangings, ironing boards suspended from the ceiling and a lot of mismatched furniture.
My email invitation to the houseparty told me to knock on the Little Yellow Door and I’d be greeted by the “housemates”.
In I went and up the stairs. My coat was taken and I was given a brick of Duplo. This was to get me my first drink – a rum punch. But served with slightly more pizzaz than the drinks at the houseparties I’ve hosted (“Help yourself to whatever you want. The fridge is there”). The punch was good, but it’s hard to go wrong with punch, right?
Then we were seated on wooden garden chairs that lined the long trestle tables. These seats proved to be breathtakingly uncomfortable. Word to the wise: bring a cushion. The meal included two cocktails that sounded great, but neither of them were served. I thought it was kind of odd, but no one else seemed to care so whatevs. Laidback houseparty vibes, right?
The menu was being cooked by the newest housemate of The Little Yellow Door, Luigi. Luigi is an Italian fellow from Napoli, so we were promised an Italian four-course meal. I was excited!
The antipasti was served on sharing platters with the rest of the diners on the long tables. This is probably fine, but if you don’t like sharing food/strangers touching your food/talking to strangers then it might not be for you. Weirdo.
- Burrata with Mint Pesto, Cured Tomatoes, Smoked Aubergine and Rye Crisps
This was really delicious. I absolutely love burrata. It was gooey, fresh and creamy. The bursting tomatoes countered that nicely but the mint pesto could have been a bit stronger. It had a lot to compete with.
- Prociutto, Lardo, Peach, Basil & Almonds
I love fresh, sweet fruit combined with the saltiness of cured meat, so this was always going to be a winner. These were hearty slices of meat, too. I’m not 100% sure what the white sauce was underneath.
- Smoked Beef Carpaccio with Mustard Dressing, Crispy Capers and Salted Ricotta
This was really lovely and beefy and nicely balanced out the more delicate flavours of the other antipasti. The mustard added a nice kick up the nostrils too.
- Arancini of Mushroom and Asparagus with Truffle and Porcini Mayonnaise
These were awesome, and definitely the star of the course. They were headily mushroomy (definitely not one for mushroom wimps – why are so many people anti-fungi?) and the truffle sauce underneath was intoxicating. They got snapped up pretty quick, as evidenced in the fact there were only three left by the time I had reached down to get my camera.
The primi dish (Italians have a starter and then two main courses because they are absolute pros) was egg tagliatelle with spicy duck ragu.
It came served in a big dish from which someone on the table plays “mother” and serves everyone else. This could be terrible if you have someone stingy or greedy serving, but we were saved from this panic-inducing situation.
This is a dish I have been dreaming of since Friday night. It was incredibly rich and gamey, with bitingly salty parmesan generously grated over the top. Andrew and I – and everyone else on the table – had two servings.
Again, this was served in a large bowl and everyone helped themselves. The belly porchetta was really lovely and had a nice, salty ribbon of crackling on top that was cooked to perfection. At the bottom of the dish was this rich, unctuous ragu sort of affair that had sultanas in – it was sweet and perfectly balanced out the salty and fatty belly. The veg were actually slightly underdone, which was a bit of a shame as I love a pickle. You can’t have everything, I guess.
Then pudding was to be served, but I think the housemates were running slightly behind as they came out and said they were just going to serve them on the bar. Everyone then was asked kindly to stand and leave the table so they could clear them away to make way for the party element of the evening.
This sort of turned into a bun fight. The bar was overrun with people trying to order drinks and there was only one server there. And then the puddings were on the bar and some people sort of, stampeded the bar? One lady actually told me to stop taking photos so she could get to the puddings quicker. Haha! I think this could either really annoy you or just wash over you, but if you are expecting silver service then probably don’t go to a houseparty-style pop-up? As such, I didn’t really get any pudding apart from a toffee thingy, which was nice.
What did slightly annoy me is that to get drinks you had to go to the bar during the meal, therefore missing some of the food because of the sharing situation. And the staff were slooow at the bar. And then when I put in my PIN in the card reader thingy I noticed the bottle was about £3 more than it said on the menu, which I queried. The server said that it was an obligatory tip. The card reader then also asked me to add another tip. I found that all a bit galling, but I guess peeps have to earn their tips some way?
Little Yellow Door is a lot of fun, but is probably better suited to a large group of friends rather than an intimate date situation. You also have to go with the attitude that you’re just going to roll with the punches – much like sharing a house with eight people. The food is great, it’s fun and a bit different. I’d recommend it.
Tickets to Little Yellow Door’s “Ultimate Dinner Party” are £35 and can be booked here.
The Little Yellow Door, 68 Notting Hill Gate W11 3HT
Nearest tube: Notting Hill Gate (5-second walk)
I was invited to review Little Yellow Door, but this doesn’t guarantee them a favourable review.