8.27″ x 11.69″ . Watercolor . 2019

2022 Update. The REAL story behind this painting.

In the film “The Menu”, solo diners are not allowed in the fictional “haute-gourmet” restaurant Hawthorne. Back in 2019, I faced the same predicament when I wanted to experience Heston Blumenthal’s three Michelin star restaurant, The Fat Duck.

Resigning to reality isn’t always the best option. Instead, I wrote Mr. Blumenthal a letter to suggest a compromise. It didn’t seem fair to pay for a second seat with money since only one person would be eating, and I couldn’t possibly eat for two or afford it! So I offered something of value in exchange for value = my painting. And this is how I was able to secure the inconceivable. The “Table for One”.

Like in the movie, it was an experience! The real restaurant was definitely a point of reference too for some of the courses in the film. And as with most things in my life, everything was supernatural as usual, and I’m not talking about just the food.

For some auspicious reason, I booked Robert De Niro’s preferred chauffeur service to get to the restaurant, and ended up with his personal driver too, Georg from Georgia. It made everything all the more amusing because the vehicle alone already raised some eyebrows (certainly the Maitre d’s), and even more so when I stepped out in my usual, nondescript “uniform”: black top, jeans, sneakers.

Whilst the restaurant staff were making the final preparations, we were asked to wait at the Hind’s Head pub a house away. How the hoity-toity people couldn’t muffle their curiosity about my identity was quite surprising. And I thought they were supposed to be more civilized in England! They could have just asked LOL!

And to the horror of the other patrons, I decided to have a cigarette with Georg before walking back to the main restaurant. Ahhhh the gasps, the ‘whoahs’, from the embalmed preppy people were priceless! I’m still not sure whether it was from the actual cigarette or from gallivanting with the “help”. Why did they even care? It was the icing on the proverbial cake! And we weren’t even at the amuse-bouche yet!

Naturally, this made my entrance to the main restaurant (un)fashionably grander. Along with the whole ‘solo patron’, vehicle, and the extremely casual clothing, it just was too much for them to digest. Even the staff presumed I was some sort of celebrity in disguise or incognito food critic, so I was seated at the very corner of the restaurant, facing everybody! I don’t think the other patrons were able to relax much, but everything felt like the royal treatment indeed.

Sorry Kafka. Everyone thinks my real face is a mask, and I like it.

Table for One

The original 2019 text was rather dull, so I’m skipping straight to the Scavenger Hunt. Feel free to right click and save the actual file to zoom in properly.

See if you can find these things in the painting:

  1. Knight with a lime axe – to add that extra sting to those wounds. 
  2. Rabbit with a feather Sword
  3. Ortolan
  4. ‘Meat fruit’
  5. Langoustine
  6. 3 Roses
  7. Random Juniper Berries
  8. Lavender Flowers
  9. The Mock Turtle
  10. A Gryphon
  11. A Dodo
  12. Two Ducks with cutlery extremities
  13. A not-so-golden Apple
  14. An Octopus
  15. An Elephant
  16. A Metamorphosing Peanut (which explains the title)