I’ve never been a fan of sharing food, which is why the thought of going out in a crowd for tapas or meze fills me with terror. It’s not the food itself – I love it and am happy to indulge when there are no more than four of us – but when you have, say, a dozen diners, the experience is almost invariably unsatisfactory.
Out of politeness you never serve yourself as much grub as your hunger demands and, like a Victorian orphan with his nose pressed longingly against the window of a chop house, you look on helplessly as your favourite dish is devoured at the other end of the table. This means you are grumpy and bored and so you drink too much. And because you drink too much you say things that you shouldn’t say in a very loud voice. And because you say things that you shouldn’t say in a very loud voice, you lose your friends and your other half gives you the silent treatment for a fortnight.
Resentment reaches fever pitch with the arrival of the bill. Someone else does the arithmetic and tells you that your share is just shy of the GDP of Portugal, and all you can remember eating is two prawns, some bread with olive oil and a meatball. By now, you’re far too drunk to take the tube and so you spaff another fifty quid on an Uber.
All of which brings me to 10 Greek Street, Cameron Emiral’s chichi eatery in Soho, where twelve of us aged between 18 and almost 80 headed to celebrate the birthday of my dear friend Hannah. As it happens, 10 Greek Street has a wonderfully varied menu where you order food and a waiter brings it to you on a plate.
Fab! No sharing!
What a fool I was. Hannah is in the food business and knows Cameron, so he arranged to accommodate us in the private dining room while dispensing what seemed to be an unending selection of sharing plates. If you’ve been paying attention for the last two minutes, you can probably guess how I felt.
How wrong I was! This was one of the best meals I’ve eaten in a very long time and, while I am not going to review every single dish, special mention has to go to the burrata with wild mushrooms and rocket, a matchless explosion of texture and flavour. My disquiet about helping myself to more than my fair share went out of the window and flew down Shaftesbury Avenue, never to be seen again, when our excellent waitress Anna brought out a gargantuan platter of roast lamb. I don’t buy red meat at home for both environmental and health reasons; so, when I’m out, I make up for lost time by gorging on the stuff in the manner of a starving lioness devouring a still-twitching wildebeest. Lamb can often turn out disappointing, but this was perfection. I pigged out. I think I got away with it too.
Cameron’s business partner Luke Wilson is responsible for the impressive wine list. Embracing the Brexit spirit, I lost my English sparkling wine virginity to a couple of glasses of Nyetimber – up there with anything the French can offer – before making further inroads into the wine list. The Italian Mandrarossa served us well as an aperitif – a light but not insubstantial white – and I was particularly impressed with the Sorcières du Clos des Fées, another white, which was complex, earthy and multi-layered. Cravings for a glass o’red were sated by a Spanish Monastrell – another first for me: decent and drinkable but a little too much tannin for my tastes.
A diet-busting range of desserts capped off the evening before my companions and I headed off into the misty London night. And yes, in case you were wondering, I did spaff fifty quid on an Uber home.