Whether you’re enjoying Tom Allen’s dazzling stand up, or joining him for a cheeky late-night supper, you can expect your face to ache from laughter.
With charm, impeccable timing and the raise of an eyebrow, Tom delivers one-liners drier than your average martini. And, like his hero Victoria Wood, he finds comedy gold in the most down-to-earth of circumstances.
His Edinburgh Fringe show Absolutely tackles everything from the joys of living with your parents in Bromley, to the tragedy of being your friends’ second favourite gay. Our review: five stars all the way!
So, only fitting we thought, to take Tom to a restaurant that’s also five-star. The obvious choice: Rollo on Broughton Street, where the food, atmosphere and service are faultless.
We began, perhaps unsurprisingly, with a round of espresso martinis. Shaken to perfection, they were happily inhaled within seconds.
Then we moved swiftly on to a few of our favourites: Haggis bon bons with whisky marmalade, and the seriously moreish Pinenut & pesto dip with toasted shards. Utterly delicious as always.
Though what really had the boy from Bromley excited was the Crispy pork samosas with walnut and blue cheese. Now even if you’re intimidated by cheese with bite, believe us, you too will adore this dish.
We also managed to find a little room for the Mackerel pate with spring onion and grape salsa, and tempura prawn. A stunning, and rather genius mix of flavours!
So with our appetites stimulated and wine flowing, we set about getting to know Tom a little better.
How you would you describe yourself on a dating app?
Hmmm … a chatty Cathy. But I do say things like: ‘Do you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain?’
Having a sense of humour is very important you realise. Though sometimes I’m attracted to people who don’t have any at all. I’m like ‘Oh thank god, finally a break from work!’
What do you love?
More and more I would say nice clothes, nice cooking equipment, and access to the Barefoot Contessa on the Food Network. She’s like ‘This is my New England kitchen, and I’m making a roast chicken for my husband Jeffrey.’ That’s basically the entire programme, on repeat, forever.
What annoys you?
People who use the word “literally” all the time!
Oh my god, that’s absolutely our pet hate too!
I’ve done very well on these questions, haven’t I?
Speaking of which, what question do you hate the most?
Hmmm … ‘How did you get started in comedy?’ People always rely on that cliché of: ‘I was bullied at school’. Seriously, that NEVER happened to anyone! So what, the bullies were coming up to punch you, and you were like: ‘You know what, my mother-in-law walked into a bar’ ???
In that case, sorry, but how did you get into stand up?
I almost did it as a dare. I’d do gigs in rough clubs in places like, well … Plymouth, where it’s full of stag parties. I’d come out and be like, ‘Oh, has anyone here seen the film Amelie?’ and people would be apoplectic with rage.
Fortunately, not only did Tom survive his time in Plymouth, he’s gone on to enjoy twelve successful years in comedy. He’s appeared on the likes of The John Bishop Show and 8 out of 10 Cats, and last year supported Sarah Millican on her sell-out tour of UK, Australia and New Zealand.
It’s also clear Tom’s a consummate foodie, who’s just as impressed with Rollo’s menu as we are. So cries of ‘more wine, more wine!’ were soon followed by the angst of choosing only one main course.
Though after much debate, Tom and my good self can confirm the Moroccan lamb with garlic and cumin couscous and tzaki praprika glaze will make your taste-buds dance.
Then again, Isaac may have trumped us both with his choice of the Crispy Beetroot gnocci with blue cheese and pea shoots. The adjective that best sums up this dish: Mind-blowing!
What are the highs of being a stand-up comedian?
I think it’s all about connection. I have a theory that comedy just makes people feel less alone. I say people, I mean comics mainly. It’s like we’re constantly saying ‘Oh I sometimes feel lost in the world’ and people respond with ‘Oh yes, I feel that too’.
And what are the lows?
When people are like ‘I don’t know what you’re talking about!’ So suddenly you go from feeling a bit alone to ‘I am COMPLETELY alone!’
What’s your idea of success?
Being able to have at least one holiday a year, occasionally going out to dinner, and owning nice bedding! I was told always invest in nice bedding and nice shoes, because if you’re not in one, you’re in the other.
What’s your advice on the Edinburgh Fringe?
See as many shows as possible. Go with an open heart, and an open mind. Be ready to feel uncomfortable, or to see through the imperfections. And bring layers, because it gets cold sometimes.
Dessert kicked off with another round of espresso martinis – oops – but was soon followed by something more substantial.
I was once again seduced by the Lemon Tart with clotted cream ice cream – just superb. Meanwhile Isaac’s Banana toffee bread and butter pudding rendered him silent, except for the odd sigh of satisfaction.
But it was Tom who insisted his dessert was best, a delicately crafted Vanilla panna cotta with strawberry, mint and black pepper, surrounded by raspberry coulis. Just perfect.
Clearly Tom you’re a man of good taste and sage advice, what are your thoughts on food?
Eat less, buy better. (Laughs) Such a snooty thing to say!
In my limited experience, I would say: Tell ‘em what you think.
And your advice on other people?
Avoid them at all costs! (Laughs) Actually, I really like people, but I cannot deal with crowds. If I turn a corner and there’s a queue to go down a pathway, I’m like ‘Oh god, I just wish I’d never been born!’
THE LAST WORD
While it’s no secret we’re in love with Rollo’s fabulous menu (and with Tom too), it feels only fair to give our fellow foodie the last word.
Tom’s definition of a great dining out is feeling ‘special’ as soon as you walk thought the door, something he most definitely experienced at Rollo.
‘Exquisite,’ he enthused.
‘Loved it all. The service, the wine, and the food. Especially those pork samosas!’
Tom Allen: Absolutely
8pm August 15 – 27 @ The Pleasance Courtyard
14 Broughton Street
0131 556 5333