Henry Oliver reflects on the night that was "Speed Pasture" - our Restaurant of the Year Supreme Winner doling out a night of service on fast-forward - and urges diners not to miss the next Metro Peugeot One Night Only Event, hosted by Apéro.
I can’t quite remember where the idea for Speed Pasture came from. We’d been talking about what we could do to make Pasture a little more accessible price-wise while keeping it, y’know, Pasture. Because the crux of the matter is that Pasture costs how much it costs because it has to. Aging that meet, providing that level of service, that level of cooking - three chefs for only six guests, twice a night - costs a lot of money. So we asked Pasture’s Ed Vernon (or maybe Ed asked us) what if, for One Night Only, Pasture was sped up.
But.. how sped up? One hour? Forty-five minutes? Could we do half-an-hour?
Ed liked the idea of doing a Pasture version of omakase. Like those high-end sushi restaurants, he and his chefs would simply place food in front of you and you’d eat it immediately with little explanation or fanfare. Then another dish would arrive, again and again until the half-hour was up.
When met up with Ed the week before he was excited but uncertain. He had some ideas on the go - some experiments he was working on, some things he wanted an audience for. When I checked in on Tuesday, the night before the event, his confidence was high - he’d planned eleven courses, mostly new with a couple of twists of some Pasture classics. And that’s what he tried to serve on Wednesday last week - for the first sitting anyway.
For the first of six sittings of six, Ed got as many dishes out as quickly as it could, pushing his small team to its limits. But, just over halfway through, the 30 minutes was up, but there was no slowing down. I got up from my stool and opened the door and poured a sparkling wine cocktail (“Grandmaster Flash”) for the second sitting.
Soon, after cutting a couple of dishes that either weren’t working or slowing things down, Ed and his team found a groove and were soon plowing through a six-or-seven-or-eight course menu: a super fresh stem of choy sum with its stalk dipped in dressing; a bowl of chopped asparagus and onion flowers; an ice of this season’s goat milk; aged blue mackerel over ice; freshwater eel smoked on the fire; a courgette flower filled with an ice vinaigrette, a small doughnut topped with thinly-sliced barely-cooked short-rib; black abalone in a shell swimming in sauce and topped with salad; the classic Pasture aged wagyu but now with a pickle instead of greens; and, to finish, rhubarb and more flowers - all paired with acidic natural wines, bright cider, a Garage Project saison and a housemade spring vermouth.
It was a night not to be missed that was, alas, missed by many. So don’t make that mistake again. Please join us at the next One Night Only, a late Sunday family supper at Apéro - a family feast of pot au feu, cooked gently for a very long time, and served two ways with basically unlimited wine. I’ll see you there.
Tickets to Apéro's One Night Only Event can be purchased here.