The work Christmas party. Does it really need an introduction? Drunken debauchery, bad dad dancing, pissed promises of promotions, corporate secret slipping... And the ever fated bad Christmas dinner.
Does it always have to be bad? I've eaten a few corporate Christmas dinners now, ranging from the traditional Turkey dinner to the not so traditional duck leg. Some have been good, some have been bad but none have been great, fantastic, something to rave about.
Surely restaurants/hotels must see the benefits of doing corporate Christmas dinners right? You've got at least 8 (in my experience) people sitting down to eat (most likely with some forceful peer pressure to attend). Lay before them a feast to behold, something that really excites and wows them and will they not return to see what the rest of the menu tastes like?
I get that restaurants may buckle under the strain of producing 15 meals of varying different dishes all at the same time. Then again they always take your order in advance of the night too.. From where I'm sitting I can't see any excuses for it to be a poor meal.
I realise some people may frown upon me reviewing my work Christmas dinner, or perhaps think it's a step too far and I am now too wholly consumed by blogging that I now must blog about everything single meal I eat out (I don't). However, by taking pictures of my food at the table it helped stem conversation with people I had not previously spoken to in great depth, I found more people similar to myself who have a passion for food. I found out a colleague owns a chain of pubs in York, and we debated over the ethics of trip adviser and the damage bad reviews can do to a business.
To me, this turned out to be a very good idea. So now, I guess, I have to follow it up.
The Griffin is owned by the pub chain Taylor Walker. A quick check on their website and the Griffin seems to be their first in Leeds and I hadn't visited one previously so it was a mystery as to what it would behold for us..
Friday night and the Griffin was packed, especially with it being so close to Christmas, it was a relief to find that we had a sectioned off area away from the rabble. I had previously seen pictures of the 'tunnel' area and was disappointed to find that it wasn't in fact tiled but instead it was wallpaper.... perhaps I'm just being fussy.
As it was a work Christmas meal we had already pre-ordered our meals months in advance, it was just a case of recalling what exactly you ordered 3 weeks ago... Always fun and it has since been learnt that someone with a spreadsheet print out is very handy.
For starters I had chosen the chorizo bubble and squeak. I did enjoy this dish it wasn't too big, the chorizo was good, the sauce complemented everything and squeak was pleasant. My only criticism was that when I cut open the egg it wasn't runny inside.
Chorizo Bubble and Squeak
Next up came the festive burger, a food trend it appears this Christmas season, intrigued I had to give it a go.
The festive burger is made up of bread (obviously), Brie, cranberry sauce, Turkey burger, sausage burger, bacon and lettuce - served with chips and a pot of BBQ sauce.
There was so much wrong with this burger for me it's hard to know where to start. Perhaps a list is the best way to tackle this...
Bread: okay held together sort of
Brie: chewy at the sides
Cranberry sauce: tasted like strawberry jam
Turkey Burger: grisly, made up of small Turkey pieces that looked processed. Very odd.
Sausage burger: tasted like a McDonald's sausage McMuffin
Bacon: bit rubbery
Lettuce: it's just lettuce really
Chips: bog standard nothing special
BBQ Sauce: why?! Why would you serve BBQ sauce with this? Would a pot of gravy not make more sense?
inside the festive burger
The thoughts across the table weren't much better. One person sent their meal back as it was cold, another person shouted "fuck me is that a Yorkshire pudding", whilst another struggled to even cut through their burnt round the edge Yorkshire Pudd. It's worth noting that I did speak to two others who liked their meals each having the beef bourguignon and the other the Turkey dinner. Below you will see a disgruntled staff members beef dish with the un-cut-able Yorkshire Pudd.
Next up was pudding. Continuing with the festive theme I ordered the 'festive crumble'. Basically it was an apple crumble that was made 'festive' by adding clove. An unbearable amount of clove. I had a few bites before I called it quits.
A few people ordered Christmas pudding and another bellowing from across the table came "is this creme anglaise? Mmm... Barely." Whilst others ordered the cheese board. One person declaring it inedible I took a picture at their request however you can't quite see the true state of the cheeses. The cheddar was had an going translucent around the edges, the Brie was (like the one in my festive burger) chewy and un-melted, the fruit on the board consisted of grapes that were shrivelled and dying. The large piece at the front of the picture is actually butter. Feedback was passed to the waiter whether this made it to the chef I'm not sure.
It was clear that the amount of people they could fit in to the tunnel was priority which sacrificed practicality or the feeling of being a complete group. What I mean by this is that the tables were pushed to the sides to create more room for other tables which meant that a large table had to be split in half otherwise people had to climb under the table to nip to the loo.
I think it is fair to presume that after our Christmas meal at the Griffin I won't be inclined to return, for food at least.
NB: quote from TK who also had his work Christmas party here "The food was shit and the place was shit". Oops! Perhaps some vast improvements need to be made quickly!
31 Boar Lane