It’s been a long while since I’ve blogged. I won’t apologize or explain, that would cheapen all of us. This has been a house of sickness and stress. Stop making my life harder with your demands and expectations, you needy internet consumers! All you do is take and take and take! When are you going to give something back, hmmm?!
Seeing as I’ve been so overworked of late, I decided to treat myself to a really good dinner with my dear friend Sir Gregory Kirkpatrick. Unfortunately, neither of us have had the time to get out and about, so I decided to go for a completely fictional meal. Here’s my review of the non-existent restaurant and our completely invented experiences.
“The Crevice” is hidden away in the Derbyshire village of Black Tunt, a picturesque collection of hardy stone cottages tucked in amongst the unforgiving landscape of the peaks. “The Crevice” was opened in the autumn of 2016 and has been growing in popularity ever since, despite the complete lack of advertising and its utter lack of existence. In the foodie community, its hard to call yourself a gastronome unless you’ve eaten at “The Crevice”. Epicures that we are, Greg and I decided that our time had come. He used his connections to get us a table, something that even royalty struggle with.
Xanthippe Shrike and Martin Thrutch are the owners of “The Crevice” and the fiercely creative minds behind the restaurant’s extraordinary kitchen. When they’re not cooking, they are a aromantic but highly sexual young couple; inside the kitchen, they prefer to be seen as a gestalt entity called Xrutch (pronounced ‘Crotch’ – pronoun ‘it’ or ‘its’). Their attitude to food and eating can be summed up by their refusal to call “The Crevice” a restaurant: they see it as “a food clinic” where the “patients” come for “gustatory therapy”. In my brief conversation with Martin, he told me “Xrutch isn’t feeding you. It’s curing you. It’s using shock treatment to bugger you right out of your bourgeois dining-safe-space. There will be laughter and tears at the dinner table. You don’t come to eat a meal, you come to give birth to your future self… through pushing stuff into your mouth. It’s an oxymoron. It’s a paradox. It’s 89.99 per diner for the fixed menu.”
From outside, “The Crevice” looks like a typical Derbyshire cottage of grey stone and greyer slate. There is a garden that would appear to be a perfect middle-class ‘lawn and borders’ affair: it’s a sly joke against the bourgeois sensibilities that Xan and Marty loathe. Step through the front door and it’s clear you’ve moved beyond the mundane world. The Reception Vestibule is uncomfortably hot and filled with tropical plants. Guests are greeted by surly, gender-neutral ‘servitors’ in dove-grey three piece suits. The dining rooms are beneath the main building. Its a trip into culinary Hades. Prepare your dull senses to be tortured out of complacency.
We ate in ‘Reflections’, an intimate dining area lined with mirrors and lit by candles. It’s pretty unnerving to be surrounded by infinite and flickering doppelgangers as you eat. This isn’t something for those who are uncomfortable with their own appearance. Fortunately for Greg and I, we’re both very pleasing to the eye. I’ve sat in uglier dining rooms.
We were not allowed to order drinks for the first course. Only boiled water was supplied, serve at body temperature in thick glass beakers. The theory is that this prepares the senses for the oncoming onslaught. It could be just a placebo effect, but I think my taste buds were tricked into complacency by the water. When the amuse bouche arrived, I was blown away. On circular hunks of volcanic glass, we were served Salt-and-Pepper Yam Crisps, Hot Hazlenuts and Prawn Foam. The crisps broke in the mouth like tasty shrapnel, the nuts were Germanic and the foam brought back memories of Primary School bags of Skips. This is aggressive food, but it has a sense of humour.
The first course was Burnt Bean Curd and a tiny chunk of Bream Disappointment. I wanted either more of it or less of it. This felt less like being teased and more like being bullied. It would take a lot for me to forgive this discourtesy.
All was forgotten with the next course: Slow Cooked Thrush, fingered with Asparagus. We ate the delicate birds bones, beaks and all. Imagine hot poultry jelly with needles of bone, the pain soothed by asparagus pillows – imagine all that and you’re only half way there. There was a peach coloured sauce that I asked our servitor about but I was told to mind my own business. Fair enough.
Next came a hot piece of wrought iron on which there sizzled a series of Meat Chunks in Sticky Molasses and Stuff. I think the meat was horse, but I couldn’t get that confirmed. The Molasses were sticky and smokey and the Stuff was granular, oaty and reminiscent of better times. Greg was moved, almost to tears.
At this juncture, we were allowed to order wine. There was a choice between a light British white “Anonymous – from Burgin’s Vineyard” or a robust red that was served in glass boxes (more of that precious humour!). We took the red and were glad of it. The servitor gave us our first smile of the meal.
Palm leaves were brought to the table, stuff with Pummeled Pork, Smoked Lemon Wedges and Terrified Crab. I can recommend the pork. I could have eaten twice the amount and still wanted more. The wedges were absurd, in my opinion, and neither of us felt like dealing with the crab. Our servitor hit the crab with a mallet and took it away, no questions asked. What a relief.
The next course was served alongside cans of Special Brew. We had a brief argument over whether the beer was decoration, garnish or beverage. I opted for beverage and Greg, after some urging, acquiesced. We both enjoyed the Slivers of Heron with Shriveled Mushrooms, but neither of us could stomach the Chilled Ejaculate. I understand that part of “The Crevice” experience is mystery, but I just couldn’t funnel that enigmatic pearly goo into my mouth. The servitor merely shrugged.
We moved on to an Assiette Gourmand of Sweet Dishes. White Chocolate Skulls filled with Honeyed Lambs’ Brains tasted like one of Willy Wonka’s nightmares. Kumquat Jaffa Cakes were unremarkable. Rose and Violet Ice Cream with Popping Candy and Cider Reduction shouldn’t have worked and almost didn’t. The Cacky Pudding with Muck was really just a chocolate brownie with custard, unless I’m much mistaken. The weakest section of the meal, I felt. Perhaps this is an attack on my generation’s juvenile obsession with pudding being ‘a treat’. I felt insulted, but that might have been the intention.
The cheeseboard arrived. This dining experience was an abusive relationship. Pudding had damaged my self-esteem; the cheese board built me up again. Wonderful, salty Tuppy Blue; hard, tart Cornish Spume; crunchy, grassy Black Dangler. The water biscuits were crisp dry and without flavour: I thoroughly approved of this as the cheese could take the spotlight. The Quince and Medlar Chutney was tasty without being challenging. Alongside the cheese, we enjoyed Damson Rum, served in egg cups (too much of a gimmick for Greg’s tastes).
Moroccan Mint Tea was accompanied by candied nuts, crystallized ginger and locusts-in-honey that were fried at the table.
As I was to be writing a review, Xrutch itself came out of the kitchen to ask if we had enjoyed the meal. I was too emotional to speak, so Greg handled the niceties. As a treat (possibly a bribe?) we were each given a squirt of the restaurant’s in-house potcheen, served from a plastic water pistol. It’s good stuff, but you wouldn’t want more than a squirt. It cleansed the palette to such a degree that I felt the meal might have been a fever dream.
On the drive home, I was overcome by thirst and creeping ennui. We had to stop at a shop to pick up Capri Sun. Greg did a tiny bit of sick and had appalling wind, but that’s nothing new.
“The Crevice” is about food in the same way that Tate Modern is abour art. We didn’t eat there because we were hungry. We weren’t looking for comfort food or a gastro-pub. We didn’t come away feeling comforted and I think that was the point. Can I recommend it to you? Of course not, I hardly know you.
In future blogs I intend to review more of this country’s fictional restaurants, attractions and events. I’m sure my readers are longing to know about food at “The Interstice”, the topiary gardens of Quimminge Hall and the Pokey Festival held annually in Crudely. The British Isles have a wealth of history, culture and art that are just waiting for me to invent them.
Thank you, fellow travelers, I must rest now.