Thursday, 24 February 2011

Table for two?

During those down times on public transport when I'm not thinking self-indulgent thoughts of despair and loneliness, I am trying to imagine ways to earn the vast amounts of money that would enable me to stop taking public transport at all.

On this occasion, I had an if-I-do-say-so-myself-which-I-do brilliant idea for a short-term money-making venture, only I was not on a bus or a train. I was at my desk at work, exchanging emails with friends about where we should have dinner together. Would we patronise the Strada cucina, where we would play fast and loose with its rustic Italian menu thanks to our exclusive* 2-for-1 on main courses voucher? Or Heston's new place? Le Gavroche? The Ivy? At this point, imagine, if you will, a light bulb turning on above my head.

One of my dining companions has a daughter. She is called Ivy. She is five. Possibly. I'm never very good with the ages of friends' children. There are too many of them now. The numbers tend to fall away in favour of broader categories such as 'Will they repeat after me when I inadvertently swear in front of them?', 'Can they take themselves to the toilet?' and 'Are they now too embarrassed to kiss or hug me?'

My idea is this: we set up a pop-up restaurant called not 'The Ivy', but just 'Ivy' – at Ivy and her family's house. It will be some kind of brilliant satire on its well-established namesake and related culinary hotspots. The master stroke is that the executive chef will be none other than Ivy herself. Each meal will be a daring and unchartered voyage on the high seas of 'cooking'. With geographical serendipity, Ivy and her family live in Hackney – the perfect place for a deconstructed, anti-establishment, east London version of The Actual Ivy.

Scenario one is that people, tourists probably, would turn up mistaking our place for the real deal.

Scenario two, we fool people into thinking this is the hottest booking in town for destination dining.

Scenario three, we don't fool people, but they still want a part of our cutting-edge play on destination dining.

It's a win-win-win situation.

We, the grown-ups – relatively speaking – will stand beside the oven nominally supervising as Ivy serves up raw chipolatas dipped in jam to her surprised/delighted/alarmed customers. Main courses, which include her signature houmous-dipped whole banana and trio of felt-tip-glazed rice cakes, are £32.50. For an extra £5, Ivy will wash her hands before she prepares them. Premium customers, who want the ultimate Ivy experience, can pay £85 for a seat at the Chef's Table, where Ivy will wheel her plastic Bluebird A La Carte kitchen alongside your seat and demonstrate her innovative skills in front of your very eyes. She is enjoying a period of experimentation with Lego at the moment, and may choose to serve you her Lego brick tartare, garnished with Lego spaceman (helmet missing, presumed eaten by the cat). Unfortunately, it's not possible to source the ingredients for this unique dining adventure locally, but we will rely on excellent Danish artisan suppliers.

Those less au fait with fine dining may feel intimidated – how to go about eating such a confection, which cutlery to use – but one should simply approach it as one would any other food prepared by a small child: pick it up between your fingers, move it expansively through the air towards your mouth, and secrete it in your fist, while making gulping, chewing, then swallowing motions, and rolling your eyes in rapture, saying, 'Mmmm, this is DELICIOUS!'

Ivy would be particularly excited by a visit from the noted restaurant critic Michael Winner, although she may not be able to turn her thoughts to the kitchen until she has made him crawl around on all fours while she climbs on his back and pretends he is a pony. She may not be the first.

We would be sitting on a GOLDMINE.

*exclusive to anyone who uses the internet


Anonymous said...

I think in the summer you should have it outside as there is nothing like mud pie. We get served only the best... with sticks and a few daisies for decoration. Followed by a bottle of vintage water (most likely from a bucket of rain water with little creatures in the bottom).

Alison Cross said...

I can only come if it's low-fat mud pies with a lego side-salad.

Do you have a friend with a daughter called Annabel? Only a short stretch of the imagination to turn THEIR house into a night club (with everyone in bed by 8.30pm of course)

Ali x

Ragged Thread Cartographer said...

I find grass soup with pebble dumplings is always a big hit.

legend in his own lunchtime said...

Dirt desert, with gummy worms,(real ones if available). How is she at mixing cocktails? I find flour, washing up liquid, and large quantities of balsamic vinegar look spectacular, but hard to remove from the shaker.
PS, there's an award thingy waiting for you at mine.

Sharon Longworth said...

You are right, it is an idea of pure genius and a sure-fire winner. Will she wear perfume made from squashed rose-petals and an authentic daisy-chain while serving?

David said...

swiss roll and baked beans via the easy bake oven. you just cant find that on an menu these days.

The √úbergeek said...

Miss Jones, I've only just seen this, shame on me for not logging on for a week! I think maybe we should go on Dragons Den, no way they'll turn us down, and soon our Ivy dreams will be reality and we'll be Zillionaires!

Anonymous said...

But is it easy to get to by public transport?

Miss Jones said...

Yes, Ubergeek, and we would obviously take Ivy along with us to work her charm on the Dragons. How could they refuse?