The Hurlingham Club is such a beautiful venue, situated in Fulham and surrounded by extensive grounds it feels more like a country club than a London club and has the best of both in many ways. Although navigating a small bridge and wet paths in full length dresses was something of a challenge! The club was decorated very festively and an army of staff worked like clockwork to deliver an excellent Christmas ball.
Overall the dinner was really very good given that the larger the number of attendees the more you expect the quality to deteriorate – and 500 people were present for the dinner. The menu appeared Victorian in theme with one of two modern twists (particularly in the presentation) and, from my perspective, each course was better than the previous one. As for the starter, I am not really a fan of consommé and the vegetable pearls were pretty flavourless with the chicken mousse a little plain as well (until I accidentally tipped far too much salt into the dish!).
When I read ‘game pie’ on the menu my heart sank (just a little) as I don’t tend to like game and even more so I dislike meat pies … but this was actually delicious! The devils on horseback (or rather devil on horseback since there was only one), micro watercress and cauliflower puree worked well with the pie, however I felt that the vegetable bundle was rather spoiled by the extremely fatty bacon wrapped around it. It was probably the fattiest bacon I have ever seen! I would have much preferred it to have been crispy. The tarragon bread pudding was nice although the tarragon was not very evident. Overall a well executed main course.
The pudding was unquestionably my favourite course albeit it arrived looking like afternoon tea, which was novel! The main advantage however was that each guest could choose between the almond pudding and the cherry tart with meringue (as well as enjoying the raspberry sherry trifle). The trifle was superb (not too much cream, which is often the problem with trifle) although serving it in a shot glass was not very Victorian! I chose the almond pudding rather than the cherry pie (which evidently contained far more cream and meringue than cherry filling) and the texture was marvellous – moist and just the right strength of flavour.
To complete the Victorian theme there was a photo booth, with props including a skull, goblets, a snake, an old lantern and enormous keys, plus a woman in Victorian attire walking around the venue on stilts (stopping for photos with guests). I also have to confess to loving the sleigh and posing for a photo in it…
The music was provided by Little Mammoths and The Roustabouts who did a good job of keeping everyone entertained. The lighting could have been better adjusted (e.g. dimmed) when the dancing commenced however. Nonetheless it was a wonderful evening which lived up to high expectations!