All aboard – Hot Dinners takes the Pall Mall Gourmet Odyssey bus

bus2Who could resist the idea of having a meal where every course is served by a different London restaurant and the mode of transport between each is the much-beloved Routemaster bus?

Clearly, plenty of foodies were attracted to the idea of a Gourmet Odyssey – one of the key events of this year’s London Restaurant Festival – with crowds milling around the Metropolitan Hotel reception yesterday morning. With a choice of four Gourmet Odysseys to choose from, Hot Dinners plumped for the Pall Mall tour – mainly because we hadn’t been to any of the three restaurants in question, Sake No Hana, Hibiscus and Wild Honey.

Having started the event off in suitably glamorous fashion with a Mumm champagne reception at the Met we boarded our bus, along with our group and set off for our starter course at Sake No Hana. Here we were served a selection of superb sushi and sashimi, washed down with a small flask of hot sake. Our platter included seabass sashimi, two fantastic rolls of prawn and spring onion as well as eel and salmon nigiri.

Suitably fortified, we headed back to our bus and headed for our main course where we took over the dining room at Clause Bosi’s Hibscus – and were duly welcomed by the man himself. Here we enjoyed a slow-cooked clod of veal with Paimpol beans, sliced pear and cold red pepper puree. The wine here was a superbly chosen Vina Do Campo, Ribeiro 2008.

We skipped the bus and walked around the corner to Wild Honey where we had a fabulous dessert of chocolate fondant cake with salted caramel ice-cream (the nicest thing we’d had all day!) This was accompanied by a glass of sticky sherry and a glass of Madeira. Finally it was back on the bus, a mite unsteadily, returning to the Metropolitan for tea and a dissection of the meal we’d just had.

All in all, this was a great way – if a trifle expensive at £135 for three courses with wine – to sample a series of restaurants and different cuisines. It also proved to be a great way to meet like-minded restaurant obsessives – fellow diners on our tour included a gastronomic writer for Le Figaro, people working at the American embassy in London and a food writer from Milan.