The Journal is an online collection of articles and essays written and curated by writer & photographer Thomas W Coombs, published bi-annually.

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Issue 44; The Feast of Kings, The Chefs Table

I am not one to gloat or rub faces in my joy and love of finer things, actually who am I kidding I do this with every article I write.  However, without writing a ‘oh look at me’ piece, this is one trip of celebration which needed a mention, not just because of the sheer generosity of friends and loved ones that got me seated at the table without getting my wallet out but also just a mention to the artists that fed and watered me for what felt like minutes but was a touch longer.

I like food, of course I do, we need it but why have something you need without enjoyment.  I need shirts but do I buy cheap badly fitting ones, no I get something that will last and makes me feel comfortable like a second skin.  So when a celebratory trip to a restaurant's chef's table comes up in conversation as a gift, I will not say no.  The restaurant dear reader was the Social Eating House, found on Poland Street Soho on the streets of London.

The chef's table does give you visions of a table on four legs in the middle of the kitchen where you eat with the chef.  Now Paul Hood is a nice guy, but his food is why we are here, so sorry Chef, get in the kitchen and prepare.  In reality, the bar style seating looks out at the impressive engine of an all out culinary machine and is pretty awe inspiring, and that is before the food even arrived.  We seated ourselves at 7:30 and it would have been out of the ordinary not to have a quick glass of champagne before we got going.

Now to the all important part, the food, which was spanned across nine courses, we missed out the cheese course, which is an option.  I knew the food was going to be good, Michelin star and all, but I was not prepared for this and it came in right at the start with a Brixham Crab and Parsnip Remoulade.  It was a tiny little cracker with crab on it to the untrained eye, namely my own.  But then the ten ingredients were listed off by the chef who prepared it.  I suddenly felt like I shouldn’t be here, with the thought of ‘how do you get all that in there?’, let me out, I'm an imposter and clearly do not deserve this.  But my god it was good.
This was followed by, scallop with smoked avocado, Ham, Egg and Chip, yes just the one chip and an egg that was bathed for 63 minutes at 63 degrees, and it was epic and was just an egg.  The next dish is one that causes controversy for many and not a dish I would normally have.  When you do mention you have had the dish the amount of people that say you shouldn’t have it, I know this.  The reason for this is what it is and how it is produced.  I had Roasted Foie Gras and even with the downside of the dish as a process it was very nice and this was a set menu, it is now there so do not judge me.  Then, the Seabass followed by Sladesdown Farm Duck.  Each of these sublime dishes was accompanied by a wine choice by the sommelier, which leaned very much onto the whites with only one red pairing.  This was very different for me and it opened up the eyes to a true food and wine pairing where the difference of the taste of the wine and food from before a bite to after was a wonder. 

Dessert was Cultured Jersey Yogurt, Apple Pie (I am simplifying this) ending with Macaron and jellies, with coffee to finish.  It was one delight after another, even judging our fellow diners for the night who seemed not to care about the food or what went into it. Thankfully we had enough enthusiasm for all especially as we slowly got more drunk, a side effect of a night like this. And as we said our goodbyes and the bill was paid at a time just after midnight I felt like family.

Apart from my gratitude for my friends and wife who took me here along with the praise for the pure genius of food and all involved along with the same to the sommelier, I would like to applaud the music choice of classic hip-hop for the evening, surprisingly went really well.