Sommelier Craig welcomed guests with a glass of Pommery champagne and goodie bag before whisking them off on a tour around the restaurant to sample the many delights on offer. Our 'behind the scenes' team from marketing and reservations were on hand and enjoyed meeting guests that they'd had the pleasure of previously arranging bookings for.
Upstairs in the demonstration kitchen, kept guests entertained with a rolling demonstration using their unique food processor - a favourite with L'Ortolan chefs and great for anyone with food allergies and intolerances. Brought their popular chocolate samples from around the world whilst Peter from James Gourmet Coffee gave visitors the chance to experience the change in coffee flavour as it progressed through the brewing process.
Some of our guests couldn't help but spot there wasn't a Big Green Egg Bus lined up in the car park as originally planned. Earlier in the week we received the disappointing news that Big Green Egg and their Bus wouldn't be able to come due to a fault with the engine. Fortunately the L'Ortolan chefs are big fans of the barbecue and own a couple of Big Green Eggs, so Head Chef Nick and his team cooked up mouth watering plates of amuse bouches, mini versions of some of Alan Murchison's barbecued dishes from the recent Great British Menu on BBC Two. To wash them down, a variety of rose wines, both sparkling and still from Boutinot. We wish the Bus a speedy recovery and hope to welcome Big Green Egg back for an event during the summer.
Have you ever tried whisky with Cornish Yarg? or dark chocolate? Sommelier Stephen Nisbet was exciting the tastebuds on the Morrison Bowmore stand with some unusual cheese, chocolate and whisky pairings. Alongside, local cheese supplier Village Maid shared bite sized chunks of delicious Spenwood, Wigmore and Waterloo.
With the hail falling outside, Jacobs of Reading and L'Ortolan florist Flowerstalk added some much needed sparkle with their jewellery and floral displays. Nirvana Spa attended with some of their gorgeous spa products and guests enjoyed some relaxing mini treatments. The Glass Room was dedicated to more 'lifestyle' stands with photographers Tara Taylor and Julia Conway and exquisite shoes by Silvia Campbell.
Audi Reading and Specialized bikes drew the short straw being the only exhibitors outside in the elements. In their fabulous inflatable dome, Specialized, who are due to open a new concept store in Newbury, in the next few weeks, showcased a range of high quality bikes. At first glance a random inclusion in the restaurant's exhibitor list but Alan will be riding a Specialized bike when he takes part in his charity cycle challenge from London to Paris in aid of Hospitality Action. To raise funds for Alan's event all proceeds from the raffle on the day were donated to Hospitality Action, a benevolent organisation helping hospitality people who have fallen on hard times. The day was concluded with the raffle draw by Alan, and a few lucky guests were present to receive their prize.