A dinner date with the best knife in the world!
Let me tell you a story replied the waiter….
I love a little London jaunt, the hustle of the capital, bars and restaurants popping up left right and centre, mixologists creating the ‘next big thing’ in cocktails, chefs trying new and exciting dishes every day of the week with every possible taste catered for. Whether you’re a whisky lover, a sake drinker or you want to sample a micro-brewery’s one and only batch, whether you only eat raw food, you’re after a perfect rib-eye steak or you want a place with a tasty vegan menu – London is where you’ll find it.
Our last trip encompassed a whole lot of decadence – lunch was a trip to Harrods to enjoy Champagne (and caviar of course) leading to a leisurely sojourn around a cocktail bar or three before enjoying a gentle pre-dinner stroll to shake off the effects of one too many an Old Fashioned, suitably sobered up we took our seats ready for Dinner.
Not a restaurant review
Now this isn’t going to turn into some pompous restaurant review complaining about service and seasoning, neither is it going to be a gushing piece about how wonderful 2 Michelin star dining is, but instead it is going to be story about knives.
As we were waiting for our main courses, along come a waiter with my steak knife, which was delicately placed to my right, as if a new artifact at the British museum. Scared to touch the glistening blade I looked down to see it inscribed ‘9.47’ Perhaps puzzled to see my inquisition and wonder at this, the waiter came back over and asked if I was alright – of course, I said, but why is the knife inscribed ‘9.47’? 'Let me tell you a story' replied the waiter.
The year was 2004 and some friends were enjoying a wonderful meal prepared by a chef by the name of Yves Charles in his restaurant. The friends were tucking into their main course of duck magret, however this wonderful dish was somewhat spoiled by the restaurant knives, which made slicing their duck far more challenging than it should have been. Frustrated by their struggles some of the table then took out their own pocket-knives, which smugly, I presume, sliced through the duck effortlessly.
Wine with a 9.47° alcohol content
Upon seeing this unfold, the chef asked why they could not find any steak knives as good as these pocket-knives the diners had brought. This led to a long, wine-fueled, discussion around the dinner table about the quality of restaurant knives and eventually led to the guests deciding that a knife should be made, with the same quality as those they had used that night. Struggling to come up with a name for this new knife of theirs, one of the guests that evening had brought along a wine with a 9.47° alcohol content and so it was decided that the knife should be named the same – the 9.47
Years later one of the particularly perfectionist minded chefs at that restaurant had decided that they should use only the finest steak knifes and as such this was the only knife for them. The waiter went on to tell me that they have a batch of these somewhat expensive knives, which every month are sent back off to France to be re-sharpened & polished to ensure that every guest gets to enjoy dining using one of the best, sharpest, knives around.
A Keyser Söze style storytelling moment
Now I don’t know how much of that story is true, please don’t quote me on any of it, and it might be that he was having a Keyser Söze style storytelling moment as I waited for my 1850 inspired Powdered Duck Breast with braised & grilled red cabbage, spiced umbles & pickled cherries to arrive at the table, but as my knife glided through my dinner that night, I imagined that group of friends, hacking at their dinner with their sharp as spoons steak knives and relying on their trusty pocket-knives to carve their meals, and thought it wonderful that such stories exist.