Joris Minne's restaurant review: Little Pink Kitchen
Little Pink Kitchen 5 Harland Park, Belfast. Tel: 07748 047875
The problem with dinner clubs is the other people. You have no idea what these randomers are going to talk about. Worse still, you might end up beside someone shy who won't talk at all.
Shy people are excruciatingly boring, because decent folk always try to make up for their lack of engagement at social events by filling in the blanks, by holding up both ends of the conversation.
I did this for years. When I had to sit beside a shy person at a dinner, I would work twice as hard to make sure they felt included. But in the end I stopped this act of charity as it was ruining my life. I concluded that life is too short and that shy people should do us all a favour and stay at home.
The inaugural Little Pink Kitchen's Breakfast Club threatened to deliver all of this. A dozen strangers sharing a table on a Sunday morning in east Belfast at 11am sounds like a profoundly destabilising threat to the weekend.
I started thinking about it the week before, so by the time Sunday had arrived and it was time to press the green light, my palms were sweaty and I was jumpy as a foal.
There was no need for any of this, of course. The Little Pink Kitchen is as intimate a place to visit in the third dimension as it is online, where its presence as one of the leading Northern Ireland food blogs brings pleasure and information to thousands each month.
Run by the charmingly whacky Sarah Patterson (daughter of the UTV political editor Ken Reid — this is significant because I know Ken and he knows and loves his food), Little Pink Kitchen productions have ventured into the real world by presenting once a month, a brunch for £15 to a limited audience of 12 or so.
When I showed up at Sarah and her husband Keith's bijou home in east Belfast (if you are booking, check the address as they are about to move) on a sunlit Sunday morning last month, the others had already arrived.
The initial introductions, which always fail to make any impressions as names are instantly forgotten, were hurried as glasses of cava and fresh orange juice were pressed into my hand.
This gesture was to be repeated countless times until two hours later, when I finally staggered out and home. Heaven only knows what the rest of them did because I was the first to go.
I wasn't rushing, either, it's just I had other family things to do that day. But see if you can write off the rest of the day and secure a place at the Little Pink Kitchen table one of these Sunday mornings. You won't regret it.
Some people balked at the £15, but frankly, this is almost an all-you-can-eat-and-drink affair where endless rounds of prime bacon, coffee, tea, eggs, marinated heritage tomatoes, guacamole and corn fritters seemed to round the table all morning.
I would have liked to have seen some toast or other form of carbs, but I get the Latino theme running through here which might resent the introduction of something so garishly Ulster. But this is missing the point. The point is that 12 people, mostly unknown to each other, will, at very close quarters, reveal very interesting things about themselves.
The woman beside me commutes to Reading from Belfast; another woman is a well-established entrepreneur and there was someone there whose love of food meant she travelled all over the city trying to determine who has the best potato mash.
There was one other guy other than Keith. This attracts women and before you think there's any undercurrent, or some kind of dating stuff in the small print, there isn't. This is a gathering of people who love eating and talking.
Little Pink Kitchen is possibly the first to construct a breakfast club, but one of the ladies is a dinner club veteran. How did this compare? Loved, loved, loved it. The other point is that the age range is broad. There was a teenager and a granny. We all got on as if we had known each other for years.
So next time Sarah Patterson puts on her little pink apron to make your breakfast (Sunday, September 28), check she's offering toast and don't be shy.