Before the pandemic, I visited London quite regularly for work. Although I don’t miss travelling, I do miss the buzz of the capital, and last week I had the perfect opportunity to reacquaint myself. Victoria Mullins (pictured right, below) is the owner of Palm Tree Skin in Woodlesford, West Yorkshire. She wanted to thank a group of her clients for their support, and while I’d personally have a thought a voucher for Greggs or maybe Pizza Express would’ve hit the spot, she only went and took us for a tasting experience at Roux at the Landou.
Arriving at The Langham Hotel where the restaurant's based is an event in itself. As venues go, this is a proper London icon, with a concierge in every corner and jaw-dropping floristry. It even smelt luxurious, and something told me wasn’t a Glade plug-in.
Making our way to our dining room, we were greeted by a friendly team, a gorgeous dining space looking out onto West London and a glass of a prosecco I really wish I’d got the name of that kept
being magically refilled.
It’s hard to write about each of the five courses without sounding utterly pretentious, so I’m just going to surrender to it and enjoy describing how utterly brilliant it all was. Here goes:
A tartare of yellowfin tuna with caviar and an additional ‘pop’ of citrus soya dressing had all the freshness and vibrancy you’d want in a starter, and a huge (proper massive – not like the
frozen ones you get in a bag from Lidl) roast diver scallop followed, with the crispy prosecco and array of colourful, tasty tomatoes the perfect backdrop.
Next was glazed beef, with the texture of soft butter and the depth of flavour of the most skilful Sunday roast. I even devoured the cabbage that came with it and it’s my most detested vegetable
because it still reminds me of school dinners.
Dessert was insane. First came a greek yoghurt foam that surrounded something that looked like a plum. I thought it might fly across the room when I put my spoon into it, but I sliced through it with
ease because it was actually a beautiful blueberry sorbet with the appearance of a plum! Then came the finale: a painstakingly assembled and Instagramable vanilla and raspberry mille feuilles.
It was important to remember that I wasn’t in this blissful culinary bubble because I’d suddenly married an oil baron or been adopted by the Kardashians; it was because of lovely Vicky. Like most independent business owners, she’s had a rollercoaster journey to get to this point, and when she
shared some of her thoughts on her journey so far and the pride she felt at being able to arrange such an amazing day for us, it reminded me of the struggles many women go through to establish themselves in an increasingly harsh climate. I’ve seen my sister, who's been using Vicky for years and was seated next to me, experience this too, and it was lovely to see her and other guests relax and reflect on the positives as well as the challenges, just for one day.
After recovering from a severe food stupor with some lovely coffee, and chocolates that looked like shards of beautiful multi-coloured glass, it was time to head to the Wigmore for cocktails.
I’m a bit of a boring fart when it comes to alcohol and the cocktails were a bit adventurous for me, so I let the side down and switched to a glass of fizz. But the skill and showmanship of the
mixologists and the passion with which the team explained the options mean this place will be your spiritual home if you’re a cocktail lover.
I won’t talk about the fact that there were no taxis when we emerged into the blisteringly hot evening sun, which meant we had to literally run for the tube and nearly miss our train.
Nor will I mention the fact that I had to travel home with someone’s visible arse crack in my face because the train was so overcrowded.
I’ll just say that it was magical to spend just one day in a beautiful, comfortable bubble.
Congratulations to Palm Tree Skin, Hillside Childcare, The Style Attic and the many strong, courageous businesswomen facing multiple obstacles as they try to realise their vision.
And succeed spectacularly.