30-Minute Meal at Brasserie Joël

If Iggy Pop is to be believed, time is money and saving it rocks. I personally can’t think of a worse inditement of a society that compels the lead singer of the Stooges to flog car insurance. Especially doing so with a slogan that was probably coined by a 38 year-old in between deliberating whether he should go ahead and get that motorbike in chrome or black.

But yet we do live in a world in which we are compelled to fit in as much as we can into the time we are alloted. Cosmetic procedures in your lunchbreak, learning entire languages in a month, the idea that you can achieve something in an ever-shorter period of time pervades modern life. Another example is the scheme currently on offer at the Brasserie Joël in the Park Plaza Hotel in Waterloo.

They are offering a one-course ‘Plat du Jour’ menu with a twist. Simply notify the waiter on arrival and the stopwatch starts. If your food does not arrive within 30 minutes, you won’t have to pay a penny.

But is it worth the compression of time? My companion and I came in on a Friday with the restaurant looking pretty bare. Which is a shame because the very swish surroundings deserve a bit more company. We were wary about testing the speed of everyone involved. It seemed like a relay process with every member of the kitchen staff involved in a race not to lose money.

I wondered whether I might feel awful for the rest of the day if the pressure of the ticking clock might cause some sort of horrific incident. The clock closing in on the half hour, the waiter pushed out of the kitchen with our dishes, a mad scramble to meet the deadline resulting in a rush, a trip and boom, tomato sauce all over his face.

However, then I thought that half an hour in catering terms is not that short. I’m pretty sure that the folks on Masterchef have a similar amount of time to prepare.

Thus, reassured, we settled down and went for the traditional coq au vin. Even when the timer was approaching 20 minutes, there was never much doubt in our minds.

The dish itself was tremendous with no sense of it being rushed or affected by the time pressures. The fulsomeness of the meat was exquisite and the richness of the sauce provided an excellent accompaniment. We left extremely satisfied with our only concern of being what to do with the remaining part of our lunch break. After all, we couldn’t just go back to work.

Brasserie Joël
Park Plaza Westminster Bridge

Tel: 020 7620 7272

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