As far as media lunches go, the last few weeks have been unbelievably kind to me. Some of my job perks are incredible, which makes it all that bit more bearable that I am sitting here at 5.31 PM on a Friday, waiting for creatives to be approved, which will probably take until around 7 PM. The people that invite us on media lunches have been supportive and considerate of my dietary needs, and have not only picked restaurants that cater for allergies, but they have also picked good ones.
One thing I love about a little trip to somewhere like Notting Hill on the tube at lunchtime is that it feels rebellious. Now and again, I take the tube a couple of stops to Queensway at lunchtime. The reason is, there is a little Chinese restaurant and takeaway called “The Gold Mine”, and if you are ever around those parts I urge you to look it up. The outside or inside décor is not “posh”. It’s not a talked about tourist attraction. However, this place is one of the most classic examples I have ever come across of somewhere that doesn’t look much, but the food is absolutely out of this world. They also serve very quickly on the takeaway side, meaning I can get there and back with my fluffy egg fried rice in my lunch hour.
Luckily no one clock-watches us when we go to lunch with actual vendors, which was great because Gold was indeed a bit of a trek from the station. Gold is tucked away on Portobello Road so well we nearly walked past it. The décor outside and inside the actual restaurant is very stylish. Simple, yet effective. There is an airy and light conservatory area, but we were not seated in that, to my pleasure actually, it had been a hell of a week and the low-level lighting would hide the eye bags that make it look like I last had a decent night’s sleep in the 1800s.
As we sat down, I asked for a gluten-free menu but they did not have one. The waiter was very helpful though. He said he would go through the menu with me. One of the most fail-safe things I have always gone for on lunches is steak. Not only did I get anaemic before they knew I was coeliac and needed the iron, but also you can guarantee there is no gluten in steak. Luckily, gold did indeed do steak. The waiter explained that they cannot guarantee the gluten-free stuff won’t be cooked on a grill as previous non-gluten-free stuff has. Fortunately, I am not that sensitive.
They brought out all of the dishes one by one to share, and the waiter kindly explained to me which ones I can have. Sweet potatoes don’t sound like the most exciting dish to start with, but the dressing, the chimichurri, was a little bit more exciting than when you cook them at home. The chimichurri had a sharpish flavour which contrasted the slight blandness of the potatoes. I also dove headfirst into the carrots with goat’s yoghurt and capers. Like the sweet potatoes, the texture and flavour of the dressing made up for the relatively plain carrots. With starters out of the way, the waiter came over with the wood-roasted half Cornish red chicken, nduja, tomatoes, Parma ham, and toast, except it didn’t have the toast and they made the sauce without gluten, especially for me, which I thought was lovely as I said I would have been fine with just my steak and my veg. It gave me a lot of confidence to know that even restaurants with no gluten-free menu go so above and beyond to cater for allergies and intolerances.
The finale was the steak. I and my colleagues had argued all the way there on the best way to have a steak, and dear reader, I loathe to admit I was a “well done, basically burnt” person. That sounds like I’ve had umpteen years of chewy steak, but I can tell you, once I’ve beaten the living days out of it with my meat hammer, my steak is never chewy. Some restaurants will burn your steak if you like, and some will intervene. Gold more or less intervened for my good, and told me they would do it medium. I was so looking forward to it that at that point I couldn’t have cared if it came out mooing and leaking milk. When my steak came out, it was, in fact, medium, and it looked incredible. The dressing was simple, chilli, parsley and balsamic vinegar. It was a life-changing meal. The steak was so good, that I’ll never burn a steak or ask a poor unassuming chef to ever again in my life. I’d eat here again in a heartbeat, and if I did I would gladly sack off the vegetables, starts and sides, and just go for two medium steaks.
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