Hooray for Verden, because the organisational clusterfuck conundrum of the season has already been rather neatly solved. (Well, only if you’re in reach of Clapton. If not, I have another excellent suggestion in WC1 coming next week.) It’s brought out its new ‘Feasting’ menu, which is sort of like a dinner party except without any cooking, cleaning up or any of those other deathly dull things that make hosting such a colossally tedious task. It’d also very reasonably priced, so you can spend more money on the Selfridges Boxing Day sale (for example).
Here’s the deal: you gather a group of mates, select two starters to share, two mammoth mains and two puddings. You’ll get a metric butt-tonne of food (and, if you’re into it, some damn fine Instagram opportunities. But only if you’re quick and not a dick about being on your phone all night at a goddamn FEAST.)
I tried it out with some fellow bloggers and it really does offer terrific value of money, considering both the quality and the quantity. Alas, it was impossible to road-test everything, but there’s plenty to choose from. We kicked off with the charcuterie board, a solid choice, as Verden pays special attention to its meats and cheese, and the duck rillettes, served as fatty, meaty, gooey gobs of potted meat smooshed between slices of toasted sourdough. Two of each served ten of us.
Both were nice enough, though the main event was the, er, main event. I am usually dead against food served on planks of wood, but frankly when the grub’s as big as this you need something a bit more substantial to put it on. I spent the first ten minutes of the feeding frenzy congratulating myself on sitting less than six inches away from the slow-roast shoulder of lamb, which arrived strewn with rosemary and roasted peaches…
But the star of the night was actually the whole roasted sea bass, its delicate, flaky flesh the perfect antithesis to the full-bodied flavour of the lamb. It was nice to be able to have both!
I was impressed by the potatoes – two different kinds! – though alas, the carrots were too hard. (Side note: why don’t restaurants ask their customers how they’d like their root veg, like they do steak? For every one who likes their carrots soft and unyielding there’s another who craves the crunch.)
By the time I really got my face into the monster fish, my stomach was already making those ominous creaking noises normally associated with things under a lot of stress (creaking ships, tortured bedsteads, etc.). Buffet-style eating always brings out the glutton in me (like barbecues. What is with that? In no other situation would it be acceptable to eat three hot dogs, a burger, some sort of skewered meat, a mountain of salad, garlic bread and a jacket potato.) Fortunately I’m not really a pudding person; though, if you are, you may want to save room: crowd-pleasing pots of chocolate and salted caramel were dense and sticky.
Our second pudding (!) was a deconstructed seasonal cheesecake with winter berries, scattered with flowers and much lighter than the individually portioned salted caramel pots. It was my favourite.
As you can see, the blokes behind Verden aren’t fucking about when they say they’re doing a feasting menu; I wobbled home on my bike like a bowling ball on wheels. It’s a fun way to share food while having your fill of two different options for each course, and I liked the variety. They do veggie options too, so everyone can be included. You can check out the full feasting menu here.
Verden, 181 Clarence Rd, London, E5 8EE
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.