Last Saturday night was primed to be one of the highlights my culinary life. That is, aside from the inimitable Fat Duck, but that experience reigns supreme and blitzes any competition out of the stratosphere.
Well, primed as it may have been and good as the food was, my experience was still partially shattered by the fact that they now have a no photo policy.
I mean, come on food bloggers, all together now: WHAT. THE. FUCK.
This is something I find incredibly hard to understand. Well, wait a minute, let me back track and explain what exactly I find hard to understand.
Taking photos of chopsticks. SLAP.
Restaurants, especially certain “upper class” [read: snobby] restaurants slap this rule down on its clientèle ~ a no photo policy which is supposedly put in place so that when well known personalities dine there, they can dine in relative peace. That makes total sense to me, it does, really.
But what irked me about SNOBu’s latest no photo policy is that they’ve now banned the photographing of food. FOOD! Why? I mean, honestly, maybe I’m totally missing something here but what harm can come from someone taking photographs of food?
Firstly, they should be proud of their product, of producing something that looks and tastes amazing and if customers are in such awe of the creativity of the dishes that they are compelled to photograph it then hey, what a compliment, right? And while ok, so they’re not stupid, they know these photos aren’t going to sit on our C drives and grow dust bunnies, they know it’ll probably end up on a website one day (be it facebook or flickr or god forbid a food blog), but really, what harm is there if you’re proud of your product?
And if their concern is that the photos are going to be accompanied by bad reviews then honestly, I think the restaurant has more serious problems than a noob like myself photographing a fricking set of chopsticks.
Please. If I’ve missed the point, I would be happy for someone to explain it to me.
SNOBu. Before I got caught.
So I was excited to finally be at Nobu Berkeley. I’d heard stunning reviews about them and the exquisite dishes created in their unique wood fired oven, and could already taste the wagyu beef tataki as we walked into its pristinely groovy yet clearly upper class restaurant.
We started with a glass of rosé each as an aperitif while browsing the menu, and eventually decided to order a la carte as we weren’t quite up for the “surprise” of the tasting menu (that’s right, you don’t know what six courses you’re going to get).
Hey normally I like surprises but I’d only like this one if the surprise included wagyu beef tataki, cabbage steak truffle and black cod miso. Yeh, better safe than sorry.
For starters we shared the scallop & lobster “taco”, little itsy bitsy tacos filled with cooked lobster flesh or scallop sashimi. I thought it was infinitely cute, especially perched on an even itsier bitsier piece of radish but taste wise, it could have packed more… anything. Bland, I think is the word you’d use to describe this starter.
The rock shrimp tempura, a house speciality, was much better and served with three divine dipping sauces ~ jalapeno, creamy & spicy, and the traditional ponzu ~ each tiny ball of shrimp actually had shrimp inside and was cooked beautifully lightly. Impressively, the bed of greens it came atop doubled as a salad with a tangy dressing. This is good because yes, I need to eat more greens.
For our mains, we opted to share two seafood dishes and two wood fired oven dishes. The two seafood dishes came out first ~ a lobster wasabi (which was totally like a billion times not how I expected it to be) and the usual flavour explosion of the black cod miso.
I thought the lobster wasabi would be a grown up version of the rock shrimp tempura, battered pieces of lobster with a light wasabi mayo. Or something.
What was I thinking? The dish that came out could not have been more different, and luckily far more delicious. It was more like a Chinese style stir fry with asparagus, mushrooms and garlic but the sauce! OH the sauce! I can’t even explain and dare not think about replicating. The exquisite mix of savoury, almost umami, with a hint of wasabi. In-cre-di-ble.
The black cod needs no explanation. If you’ve had this at Nobu you know what I’m talking about. If you’ve had this elsewhere, Nobu’s is like a hundred times better. If you haven’t had it at all, dude, go try it.
After the first two dishes, my appetite was more than whetted and I was keen for some of the wood fired action. But hello, this is where my experience begins to deteriorate. Poo.
No photos. No stories. No love.
Our waiter came over, crouched to my height (oh yes, he took How To Deliver Bad News 101) and advised that as per very new regulations, photography is no longer permitted in the restaurant so could I please refrain from taking photos? He continued to explain the celebrity blah blah and also no food photos blah blah.
I zoned out.
Because telling a food blogger that you can’t take photos of the food is honestly like telling them someone has died. Really.
My eyes glazed over, my thoughts running a hundred miles an hour .. what? what is he saying…? but I have to post about this! And I NEED PHOTOS! no, he’s lying. It’s a big joke… he’s going to tell me it’s a joke… right?!
I wanted to ask him why. I wanted to argue. But at the same time, I sat there knowing that I already have a half dozen photos and if he asked me to delete those, I would have just died. Just died on the spot. And I’m not even exagge-ma-rating. So I kept quiet.
The rest of the meal became a big non-event. I don’t even want to write about it now because I have no photos to show you.
But in one word, the wagyu beef tataki – good. The cabbage steak truffle -amazing, possibly one of the best dishes I have ever had in. my. life. There I go with the non exagge-ma-ration again, but really, it was delicious.
Dessert was coconut pannacotta with lemongrass sorbet – a refreshing finish to the meal, and Panu’s mum had this crazy chocolate bomb which encased a scoop of sake ice cream and here’s the cool thing. When served, they pour a dollop of hot chocolate sauce over the chocolate bomb and it just dissolves… to reveal the ice cream.
But who cares because I can’t show you what it looks like! *sad*
Anyway, Nobu SNOBu, I was excited about you but now, I am just plain and simply disappointed.
Why do you insist on the no food photo policy? Do you realise how much value it detracts from your average paying customer, when they feel restricted at your venue?
Well no, of course you don’t care. I mean, I’m not a celebrity am I? I’m not famous or rich or even pretty enough for you to care…
..and sadly, I think that is probably what matters most to Nobu.
ps: if you’re normal and don’t really give a toss about taking photos of your food, go right ahead, you’ll probably have a great time. But remember, don’t go for an anniversary or birthday or any time that you’d like to have photographic evidence of. Because people photos are a bigger no-no than food photos.
15 Berkeley Street
London, W1J 8DY
0207 290 9222