Yes, these and other wonderful curiosities were what were awaiting me and my office crew when we arrived at our elected venue for our Christmas Do this year.
And, whilst you may think that `nouvelle cuisine' has long since died a death in your neck of the woods (ask for `Breath of Quinoa' in any of my local eateries and you're likely to get a smack up the chops) in Central London it is bubbling. And, to make it worse, people are paying for it. And, on some occasions, actually eating it (Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss and all other skinny celebrities aside).
"So what's your preference, London-Lass?" Boss No.1 queried as I re-scanned the menu in the hope of understanding just one frigging word of its daftness.
"Er, probably the scallops to start ... " I hesitantly began, "followed by ... not really sure yet."
"Yes, that's the thing with this place," Boss No.1 replied, "There's just too much wonderful stuff to choose from."
But it was then that I was saved. For one of my fellow office chums mentioned something about the restaurant having turkey as the day's `special' (tis the season after all and perhaps that ideology had even made it in to this joint) so, on taking our orders a little later, I proudly announced to the waitress that I would, yes, have the scallops to start with, followed by turkey for the main.
Happy with my choice I then began glugging back the vino (it was not cheap so to waste a drop would have been bad economics) and after lots of happy Christmas bantering with my office chums the starters were served.
And I suppose that, yes, they were scallops. However, they had been sliced so thinly you could see the pattern of the plate behind them in addition to being dressed so heavily in a rich spicy sauce you couldnt taste the thin slithers of scallop when you took a mouthful. And a large mouthful was pretty much what was on the plate anyway so after a coupla seconds it was back to the vino again.
A little while later our mains arrived. Which were, to be fair, a fraction larger (say a couple of mouthfuls more). Although certainly not recognisable as a `turkey dinner' in any shape or form. Even though there were plenty of shapes and forms on my plate (little tubes of this and patterned loops of that) and I guess you could have called the finished dish rather `pretty' (if you're of that ilk). However, I didnt want to frame my meal and put it on the wall, I wanted to eat it and not fight my way through the artistry to try and discern what the ruddy hell was on my plate.
"So how was it?" enquired Boss No.1 burping contentedly and patting his stomach.
"Ruddy marvellous," I parpled back, not wanting to come across as an ungrateful merchant with all the social manners of a turd. "Any more wine?"
At this point my glass was refilled and the rest of the evening is a bit of blur (recall drinking a bit more at a teeny tiny Victorian pub and then getting absolutely drenched whilst fighting my way back to the Central Line later). I possibly might not have got so loaded if the majority of the food I'd eaten hadnt included so many ingredients with `mist' and `breath' in their descriptors, and if I hadnt had so much in the way of the champagne at the start, but ...'tis the season to be jolly :
Fa, la, la, la, la, la, la, la, la !