A Night of Moulin Rouge at the Rambling Restaurant

Welcome to the Moulin Rouge Ramble, a dimly lit den of cabaret, cake  & corsets that popped up on Great Windmill Street a few weeks ago.  Hosted by the amazing word-of-mouth agency 1000heads, decorated by the creative visionary Ali O’Malley, and captured on film by the fantastically talented Mark, it was quite the evening to remember…as long as you didn’t down too many absinthe cocktails.

Come check out Mark’s amazing photos of our ephemeral Parisian creation filled with candlelit erotic poetry, beef bourguignon,  fishnet stockings and freeflowing champagne…

I tell you no lies when I mention the freeflowing champagne, generously supplied by the astonishingly accommodating, friendly, and up-for-anything folks at 1000heads.  Lined up in the soaring foyer of their Soho office building were dozens of champagne flutes, ready to welcome our diners who had solved mysterious clues of translation and location to turn up cabaret-clad in front of the Windmill Club for a night of adventure.

More meals should involve top hats and feathers.

All that week, we’d cooked and cleaned and baked and transported and decorated, up to the very last minute. Below, we add last-minute touches while the dancers practice their burlesque routines.

Thankfully, our dedicated team had everything looking spectacular by the time everyone arrived.

The Rambling Restaurant was lucky to have the most dedicated and gorgeous team of corseted and feathered servers from 1000heads, including the wonderful Lauren, Lisa, Donna, Gemma, Nicola, Sam, and even more who pitched in to hang curtains, wash dishes, move tables and boxes and abandon their desk and office space to our bizarre activities.  Below, Lauren and Lisa begin to take the cornichons and carrot salad out to be served with crusty baguettes & butter and foodrambler’s delicious pork rillettes.

The large flatscreen television gives away our boardroom-as-kitchen, from which we served and stewed our three course meal.

Here foodrambler and I spoon up slow-cooked beef stew with parsley cream sauce. While I loved the earthy combination of wine and spices in the bourguignon, it doesn’t make for the prettiest presentation.  That was one of the many lessons we learned while serving 140 eaters over 2 nights, as well as very important ones on keeping food hot and timely for people.  Just as foodrambler flambéed about 25  saucepans of beef that made her kitchen erupt in flames, we jumped straight into the fire for this dining challenge and learned a lot about what worked and what didn’t as we went along that will be valuable for future events.  Most useful information learned: how to rock a corset-apron combination.  So much wisdom gained over this experience.

Back in the satin-draped dining room, people showed off their masks and moustaches…

and displayed their amazing handmade Moulin Rouge themed hats (well done Ailbhe)…

and talked and ate and admired the decorations…

…and participated in a fancy dress competition led by the deliciously scandalous poet Abi Palmer

…and even found love at the Moulin Rouge.

But mostly, I think, they drank….

and drank…

…and drank.

We certainly contributed by handing out a very strong absinthe cocktail that we called the Drunken Fairy, but is generally known as Death In The Afternoon. Judging by the feedback from some aching heads the next day, it’s pretty apparent why.

I acknowledge I had quite a strong hand with the absinthe from Liqueurs de France

but it’s much more fun to blame it all on Nicola the Green Fairy.

Some of my favorite photos of the evenings are of the favorite people I met, including the shot of this laughing lady…

and this adorable photo of our sexy dancers, the Chitty Chitty Bang Bangs. I only wish I had been hardcore enough to go out dancing with them till 6am like some impressive people I know.

Even if you don’t go clubbing with dancers in fishnets, you at least need to fit in a photo shoot in front of the Windmill Club.

Before our late night marathon dancing and cleaning sessions, we ended with a very sticky Moulin Rouge Velvet cake. I loved foodrambler’s chocolate fishnet stockings, threatening to slide off the tilting cake into a pool of buttery frosting madness.  I cut the red velvet cake into shocking scarlet slices that looked insane but tasted damn good.


And of course, everything tastes better with birthday candles.

Thanks a million to everyone involved. For more on the event, check out blog posts by foodrambler and 1000heads.

All photos copyright by Mark, except the last one from 1000heads.

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