There are many things that London does well, but chief among these has to be the pop up restaurant. Last week the IT guy at work (hi Greg!) sent me a link to a timeout offer, ten courses for £33… Hells yes. Chef Ben has previously worked his magic at the Fat Duck so you know the food is going to be amazing. I sent a text to my usual partner in crime with no more info than “£33 on Friday… You in?” And of course the answer was yes.
The pop up was in a function room above a pub in Kings Cross. The set up was two long tables down the room (could seat around 20people) and the cooking area down one end. The reason they can do this type of thing is that most of the food is precooked and served cold, so the real activity on the night is plating up. The menu was all down with London Town showing the courses of a tube map, well at least hinting at what the courses would be.
Let’s begin. Now there isn’t enough space on the internet to talk about each course, so I will just take you through my favourites. The best of the best had to be the beans course. This started with a bit of interaction, each diner was given a straw and a go at the Holy Fuck sauce – for a hot wimp like me it lived up to its name. The main part of the beans course was seven types of beans each slow cooked and then all reduced in butter & holy fuck sauce. I have never tasted such depth of flavour, particularly when there was no meat involved. It was pure umami, and to be honest a damn surprise since I am not a fan of beans. I would go to any dinner that this dish is a part of.
Another fave was Piggy Piggy, where you first were given a marinated strip of cured pork (marinated in something familiar but I couldn’t place it, like a honey/soy sauce combo???), and then handed a spoon of powdered crackling. As well as being fun and interactive, this was all about flavour. It’s amazing how much Chef Ben could back into a single spoon of powder, reminiscent of the best roast pub lunch.
I know it sounds like I loved all the things, but there was one dish I wasn’t a fan of (and let’s be honest, 9 out of ten ain’t bad), the tuna stop. Which turned out to be a foamy tuna soup with rice crispies (rice bubbles for the antipodeans) and lettuce for spoons. It was…strange.
The two desserts were pretty special as well. The first was cold hot chocolate, read: chocolate mousse in an ice cream cone. What was cool (lol) was that it actually tasted like hot chocolate, which although I had never really thought about it has a subtly different flavour to actual chocolate. And best of all, the light mousse fitted perfectly into a ten course menu, not being too heavy or filling. The other dessert was right down my alley (Read: clotted cream addict) which was crème fresh, blue berries, more rice crispies and straight Pimms all served in a mason jar. Cute, sweet and tasty = a winner.
Keep an eye out for any future pop ups by Chef Ben, it’s a great night out and the perfect opportunity to try out the latest in innovative flavours.