“Multi-functional, multi-sensory experimental pleasure palace, dedicated to the creative pursuits of dining, drinking, art and entertainment” recently opened in Islington. I’ve been here once before for Musical Bingo. It’s worth saying before I go on, that I was really excited about this, and really really wanted to like it.
Oh dear, where do I start. The experimental dining experience means you have no choice but to have the six course set taster menu which is usually something I’d enjoy. But for me, all the food was a bit “emperor’s new clothes” – so much effort had gone into the flouncy description, presentation and explanation of each food item’s journey to the plate (to the level of detail you might normally expect from an xfactor contestant’s life story), that you were left with a tiny amount of food, that either didn’t taste of anything or in some cases was actively unpleasant.
The low points were the first course – two completely raw fillets of mackerel, presented in a quite unappetising fashion slapped on the plate (although in fairness, I don’t really like fish), the overcooked “changing cuts of pork” which was not even as tasty as the cheap, bog standard pork chops my mum used to give me with boiled potatoes in the early nineties, and the “partridge in a pear tree” – a sad, dry piece of partridge surrounded by lumps of raw pear. I would have actually really enjoyed the beetroot course, but the ‘roasting over chestnut wood’ technique seems to just result in everything tasting a bit burnt.
It’s possible that I just ‘didn’t get it’ but my two companions shared my opinion, and as about 25% of the customers on the night in question, that doesn’t really recommend it.
They did bring us a complimentary festive glass of prosecco at the start, which was great and we sunk in no time. We had a drinkable bottle of red that wasn’t extortionately priced, but sadly neither the food nor atmosphere left us wanting to settle in for further drinks so we didn’t order a second bottle.
It’s just all a bit much, which would be OK if the food was yummy, but it wasn’t and we left a lot of it. Probably, if I had been spending less than £60 on five bites of food and a glass of wine, I might have been a touch more forgiving of the really happy waitress who spent time at the start explaining the ‘philosophy’ of the restaurant, but in light of the sub-par food it was just a bit gimmicky. I’m all for trying something new, but I’m sure ‘experimental’ shouldn’t mean faking enjoyment of tiny flakes of unappetising and unrecognisable foodstuffs.
I will say that each chef’s residency is apparently very different, and some of the reviews I’ve read suggest there might be something more enticing on offer on another occasion.
Umm. You think it’s probably just that I’m not ‘foodie’ enough to appreciate it.
Don’t go there if…
You’re actually hungry and looking forward to something tasty.
If you’re pretending to have been there don’t forget to mention…
The apothecary bar downstairs is actually quite nice and has decent cocktails and there’s occasional live music on the ground floor and less obscure bar snacks, so might be worth a shot.
For more information…