Recently, together with a bunch of other bloggers and food media people, I was invited to the launch of nibblr at he Mayfair restaurant Avista, situated at the Millenium Hotel. On their website, nibblr describes itself as “the social dining network. Getting offline and back into the ‘real world,’ it’s all about bringing together good food and good company.”
It took me a while to understand the concept but basically it works as follows: you sign up to nibblr with a profile, even picture if you wish. Then you have the possibility to ‘blind date’ other nibblr people (let’s call them nibblrs) for dinner. These dinners are at London restaurants who create a special menu (as I understand it, for discounted price) for the nibblrs and usually have around 5-10 spaces. So you sign up for a dinner (or “nibblr event”), pay let’s say 30 quid for the food (sometimes even the wine is included) and join some people you have never met before for dinner.
The question really is, if this new foodie social networking concept will succeed in a market already overloaded with food applications, foodie events and dinner deals. I am at a stage of my life where nibblr is not for me. I am in a long-term relationship, heavily pregnant, full-time very busy job and don’t even have time to see my friends. In addition I’m a very discerning diner and don’t have enough time and resources available to visit all the restaurants, pop-ups and supperclubs in London I would like to try. So for me, there would certainly not be any reason to meet strangers for dinner in random restaurants.
However, let’s turn the clock back a few years. I had just moved to London from Austria, didn’t know a lot of people and was single. Nibblr would just have been a fantastic opportunity for me to meet other people, get to know different areas of London, try new restaurants and maybe even meet guys! I think the success of nibblr will depend on the kind of people that sign up and the quality of the restaurants that take part. If I look at the nibblr website at the moment, I can see Avista participating and other places I have never heard of, such as Brasa in Fulham or Embassy in Mayfair. I have the feeling though that nibblr may be more about the ‘socialising’ aspect than the food, but then again, I’m a terrible food snob and may be totally wrong.
If you have had any experience with nibblr, I look forward to your comments and feedback.
Category: Haute Cuisine (££££)
The 5 course dinner at Avista restaurant, prepared by the Italian chef Michele Granziera, was overall solidly good cooking but without any major excitements.
I enjoyed the mushroom risotto (although other people commented on the rice being too underdone, but that’s the way I like it really) but I would not have needed the foie gras with it as it made the dish unnecessarily heavy and almost a bit ‘trying to hard’. The crab salad was quite nice with sweet and tender crab meet, however I was not too keen on the basil and lemon sorbet it came with.
The almost raw steamed salmon served with a light béarnaise sauce and a port wine reduction which worked surprisingly well was my personal favourite of the meal. The other main course of pork cheeks I couldn’t appreciate as at this stage I was too full already and this was a rather substantial and wintery dish. I had some space for the dessert though – the plum tart was maybe not the most inventive and exciting pudding I have ever tasted, but light and delectable and I actually enjoyed it a lot.
I would be happy to eat at Avista again, if it wasn’t for the rather hight prices – Starters are above £10 and Mains range around £20-30. If I have this amount of money to burn, there are many places I would go to first… (Have I mentioned I am a food snob and that the (lunch) mains at The Ledbury are only a few pounds more expensive?)
- Food: 6.5/10
- Service: can’t comment as invited
- Ambiance: 6/10 (too ‘hotel restaurant’ and bright)
- Value for money: can’t comment as invited
- Chances of Returning: 5%
- Verdict: Solid high-end Italian inspired cooking but far too expensive for ultimately unmemorable food.