Since my first visit to Vivat Bacchus in December last year, I have been to the London Bridge branch several more times for catch up with friends over cheese and wine. When I had an appointment at a nearby hospital a few weeks ago, it was a natural choice to stop in and have a glass of wine before heading home as it’s just across the road from said hospital. It was then that I saw a poster for Club Carnivore. The rules are simple 1) Red meat only 2) Red wine only 3) Magnums or bigger bottles only, all for £69 per person. It sounded like the perfect evening to me, so I rounded up the troops and booked a table for the one year anniversary at their Farringdon branch.
Upon arrival we were led downstairs and welcomed with a lovely glass of champagne. I don’t know why, but I didn’t realise that this was an “event” and was expecting to just be seated when we arrived, have our five courses and be done with it. So it was a lovely surprise to have this welcoming and then all to be seated and served together. Gerrie Knoetze, the restaurant owner hosted the evening and explained the chosen wine pairing before each course. He is a charming host and his passion for good wine is clear to see. I can’t comment too much on the wine pairings that were chosen though because I don’t know enough about wine, but all I will say is that we enjoyed every glass and none of us had a hangover the next day! Surely a sign of the excellent quality.
We started with a of taster things to come. Biltong crostini, baked Camembert, rapeseed oil and it was paired with Mercurey 1er Cru 2011 ” Clos des Myglands”. For my friends – all different nationalities – this was probably the course they were least looking forward to because of the biltong, but I think everyone was pleasantly surprised because the biltong had been finely cut but was enough to break up the richness of the cheese.
Next, we had suckling pig. Slow cooked roasted pork, apple sauce, watercress paired with Rustenberg 2011 “John X Merriman”. The slow cooked pork was really succulent and the apple sauce added a sweetness to the dish. The crackling was perfectly crisp on the outside but still retaining a nice bit of bite.
Our next course was carbonnade of ox cheek. Six hour pot roast, Guinness, meat juices, horseradish and served with Allende 2007. The meat was extremely tender, but I thought lacked a little seasoning. I still enjoyed it immensely though as it had been so beautifully prepared.
The main event was a gorgeous roast forerib of Black Aberdeen Angus, Dry aged 35 days, roast potatoes, sprouting broccoli, Chantenay carrots, meat juices ‘Chambertin’ and it was paired with Glenelly Grand Vin 2008. The forerib was served medium rare. For most of us this was perfect, but for our friend ‘Buffalo-heid-the-jock’ this was a little too much for him to bear so he asked for his to be well done. Sacrilege, but each to their own! Instead of taking one of the massive forerib’s away, they brought him a whole new one. Like we needed more meat. After all the food and wine that we had consumed by this stage, a challenge was set for our friend the ‘Duffball’ to eat the entire portion that the jock could not. That’s a portion for two people, eaten by one teeny-tiny female! She did it and won herself £50! Girl Power!
The meat was just beautiful and the accompaniments all perfectly cooked in their own right. Crispy, yet fluffy roast potatoes, vegetables with a nice crunch to them and the tastiest gravy I think I have ever had. I could’ve easily eaten a whole bowl of that alone.
For our final course we had a seasonal cheeseboard, Vivat Bacchus biltong garnish & crackers. Most were utterly defeated by the meat-feast we had before, but not me. The restaurant is well known for their exceptional cheese room and I was happy to sample a small plate of their wares. It is also ‘Professor Robinsons’ birthday coming up and it was a nice touch that the waiting staff dimmed the lights, presented him with a candle in his cheese and we all sang happy birthday to him. He was utterly mortified of course, but I thought it was a nice gesture.
So for that feast, we paid £85 each for 12 people which included service. For the amount of food and wine we had, we all thought this was excellent value and would definitely be up for attending again. Club Carnivore is run once a month at both the London Bridge and Farringdon branches. Check out their website for more information.
Until we eat again!