Lucie Loves… Food & Lifestyle // Review: La Belle Assiette – a dinner party with a difference
I was asked to host a dinner party in my small London flat for 8 people. EIGHT!! Flippin’ eck…
Now, I bet you’re thinking: “God! She must be minted and have a massive flat, to be able to host a dinner party for 8 people!”
But no, I’m not and it’s not! I live in a small, rented, 2 bedroom apartment, which is basically a house that is split into 3 floors. We have the top 2 floors which is the 1st floor and the attic. The living room is also the dining room and the dining room is also the kitchen. Basically, it’s an open plan space, with pretty much everything that we own crammed into it. And we have a lot of shit!
Initially I’d thought: “Where on earth am I going to put everybody? How the hell is Chef Chris going to prepare dinner for 8 people in my tiny kitchen, without us all getting under his feet!?” OH MY GOD!
You sense my panic, right?
Slowly, but surely, the guests arrived…
It was a Sunday night and the end of a very long week. Everyone was hungry, but we had a lot of catching up to do too.
I’d made sure that I’d laid the table beforehand, bought fresh flowers, etc. As you can see from the pictures, we’d literally cobbled together our dining table plus a spare table, and every chair we own.
Our Chef, Christopher White, had already been there by this time for a little over an hour and had pre-prepared all of the food and ingredients in advance. This meant that a lot of it was just ready to pop into the oven or cook on the hob.
Want to plan a dinner party but can’t find a date?
Anyway, after trying to find someone else’s home to host it in… to no avail… ignoring that tiny detail… the first thing I did was use Doodle to find a dinner party date to suit everybody. Which is often one of the trickiest things.
If you want to plan a dinner party for a special occasion – or you just want to gather folk together that you haven’t seen in a while, often the hardest thing, when they all lead such busy lives, is trying to find a date that suits you all.
However, this is where Doodle comes in… Much as I keep thinking it’s called Noodle! (Please don’t try to plan a dinner party using Noodle, because it won’t work!) With Doodle I was able to find a date that worked for all of my friends and one that also fitted well with La Belle Assiette.
The dinner party itself would be a validation dinner. Chef Chris’s validation dinner… If you’re wondering what a validation dinner is, (yes, it sounds very formal, I know, and I guess it is…) It’s a way for a brand new Chef, who has joined La Belle Assiette, to prove their worth. Think: private version of Masterchef… and you’ll see what I’m getting at.
La Belle Assiette Chef’s must show that they can cook for 8 people, be smart, punctual, and produce quality food on time. And ultimately, be good enough for you to want to invite them back into your home again, or recommend them to others.
We were paired with Chef Chris – a delightful young man. A natural redhead (as opposed to a faux one like me.) Chris arrived with bags and bags of fresh ingredients and to set to work bringing his menu to life.
This was a dinner party with a difference. This was a dinner party where I didn’t have to actually do anything! I literally could sit there, stand there, or lie there… doing whatever else I wanted… and watch the Chef do EVERYTHING! I LOVED IT!
Imagine having a butler, or your own Chef. Imagine being waited on hand and foot. Yep! That’s pretty much what this is like. Decadent, eh? A real treat.
To prepare our menu, Chris first finds out if any of your guests have any special dietary requirements. If so, he will come back with some options. Here’s what he rustled up for us…
Our La Belle Assiette menu
- Ciabatta, fig and hazelnut bread, anchovy butter (to nibble)
- Smoked duck breast ham, duck leg rillette and foie gras with sherry vinegar dressing
- Texel lamb cannon, pea, broad bean, fennel, baby gem and leek fricassee
- Cherry and pistachio Bakewell, whipped crème fraîche
It went down really, really well.
What makes this experience stand out from going to eat in a restaurant? The fact that you don’t have to leave the comfort of your own home. And, as the host of the dinner party, there was no schlepping around London, the guests come to you, and it’s also perfect for families with children, who don’t want to or can’t get a babysitter. You can literally put your kids to bed and have your dinner party downstairs. Ok, so I don’t have any kids… yet… but that’s what I’d do if I did…
Chef Christopher White also recommended different wines to go with each course. I popped along to our local wine merchants in Kew village, and got a couple of bottles. There was even recommendations for dessert wine too, which is something that my friends and I don’t usually drink, but was good to try.
Everybody sat around the table and started chatting away. Once Chris had cooked each course, he served it himself, so we didn’t have to do anything. We just sat there and we were waited on. The food was amazing, absolutely delicious! Everybody commented on how beautiful it was, and how lovely Chris had been too, and I would definitely hire him again in an instant.
You can do a La Belle Assiette dinner party for less than 8 people if you wish. I would say that if you’re looking for a gift or an experience idea, one that’s slightly different to anything that you’ve tried before, then try it and give it a go. It’s well worth the money. Especially, if you think how much it would cost to eat out in the private dining room of a top London restaurant instead.
They have over 3,000 menu’s to choose from and there is plenty of reviews to look through if you’re interested in checking them out beforehand.
Do you cook?
One of the great things is if you are a Chef (or if you are just a fabulous cook) and you are looking for that bit extra money, you can become a La Belle Assiette Chef yourself. Take a look at the website and find out how you can join them.
Over to you…
Have you ever hosted a dinner party? What are your top tips for hosting one? Any icebreakers for when you seat guests next to each other who have never met before. Is there a way that you would put together your table plan? Any kind of dinner party tips that you have got that you could share please comment below, or if you’ve tried La Belle Assiette and you have enjoyed it please let me know.
For more info visit: labelleassiette.co.uk