On Friday, nursing a horrid hangover, I had been invited to a festive feasting event sponsored by Ketel one vodka at Nordic Yulefest. For £85 guests could have a 5-course dinner feast, complete with half a bottle of wine each and because I was listed as press, this was actually bottomless. Sounds epic but since I felt so shi* I didn’t take full advantage of this as much as I would have loved.
Nordic Yulefest was in Old Street, inspired by Nordic culture, the venue was decorated with a new trend that has swept the nation, ‘hygge‘-a Danish term defined as “a quality of cosiness and comfortable conviviality that engenders a feeling of contentment or well-being.” Arriving just after 6 pm, Serena and I (a childhood friend of mine) were introduced to the Ketel one representative and given a yummy cocktail inspired by the festive season and sprinkled with spices like cinnamon and star anise. Led to our table, with the menu placed in front of us and the room decorated with Christmas pines and tree branches, the banquet room certainly felt festive and snug.
Our meal started off with Birch cured venison, pine smoked Norwegian beef tartare and BBQ’ed Lamb Skewers with blackberries.
From this board, I thought the food was OK. For one, it was definitely not the best beef tartare I had ever had, but the venison and lamb were quite tasty. I do want to point out that the portion sizes were quite small as we were 4 on a table in total and had no trouble scoffing most of it down. One thing I read online is someone complaining that the feast was too small and why I had no trouble with that, I can see how others might have felt they didn’t get enough per portion.
Next on our list was torched mackerel, ice cellar salmon, pickled herring tempura with dill mayo and a Nordic potato salad.
In my opinion, this course was a lot better and tasted pretty good. The salmon was fresh, the mackerel in tasty bites and the tempura pretty crispy on the outside and soft in the middle. I also surprisingly loved the potato salad– not because I don’t like potato salad but because I perceived potato salad to be rather mundane in comparison to the other items, but it was delicious! I had to keep nibbling on it even after everyone on the table was pretty much done with that board.
The meal was then followed by a wild mushroom and truffle broth. I must say this was rather disappointing. For one, I was looking forward to a nice warming broth, but this was definitely more of a soup. That would be absolutely fine, but it tasted more like a pasta sauce. I LOVE truffle, but here it was so overpowering and meant I could only have a few mouthfuls. Sad.
Thankfully, the next course redeemed itself yet again. It was Icelandic cod with clam butter sauce. The Cod was moreish and soft, and the clams were the perfect accompaniment. This was one of my favourite parts of the whole meal.
One more course to go before dessert. I must say that I was getting quite full by this point and also felt more hungover as the evening went on. I sound like a massive baby, but hair of the dog and food weren’t helping. Nonetheless, I stuck it out for my love of food. The last savoury course was smoked and roasted duck with apple and prunes. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the apple and prune side that was meant to go with it, but the duck was tender and yummy. Also, we had sides of caramelised potatoes and sweet and sour red cabbage.
Finally, to round it all off we had a board of different desserts (always a highlight for me). This was initially confusing as it didn’t really say so on the menu. Nonetheless, I love desserts, so I was happy to comply! The macaroons were probably my favourite, I managed to try the vanilla and raspberry ones, and they were gooey in the middle just the way I like them. The meringues, despite being listed as raspberry were not- and the sauce didn’t taste like raspberry either but overall, they were alright.
My final thoughts?
I liked the cocktails that were crafted with Ketel one vodka, they were tasty. I loved the decor. There was meant to be alcoholic snow, but staff told us different things about whether that was happening or not. In the end, we ended up leaving because I had reached my limit (my bad) so I can’t say whether that happened, but it sounded like such a cool concept. Regarding the food, it could be improved slightly as some dishes were better than others, but overall that is down to personal preference, and it was still a lovely evening that felt super cosy. As there was a range of different tickets- including the option to pay solely for entrance to a 5-course feast, guests don’t have to pay £85 pounds to have a good night.