A few days ago I saw this (re)Tweet from Sat Bains: ‘@Electrolux Looking for bloggers to review #TheCube on 6 June. Email, telling us why you'd like to join us!’
I thought to myself…. I’m a blogger… I have nothing planned for Wednesday… If only I could think of a reason to join one of Britain’s top chefs, the two-Michelin-starred Sat Bains for a meal in the Electrolux cube, sat on top of the Royal Festival Hall with breathtaking views of London and the Thames.
I struggled… but I managed to think of something and sent a hopeful email.
I had not heard about The Cube until I saw that tweet but it turns out it has already visited some grand locations in Paris, Brussels and Milan and will be in London until the end of September.
During this time, a number of top chefs will be taking it in turns to wow lucky diners with their food. Those involved include, two-Michelin starred chefs Sat Bains, Claude Bosi and Daniel Clifford as well as the winners of ‘Ramsay’s Best Restaurant 2010’ and Michelin star holders Jonray and Peter Sanchez of Casamia in Bristol and Scotland’s youngest recipient of a Michelin star, Tom Kitchin.
I’m guessing in exchange for the invitation Electrolux would
expect like me to tell you how fabulous their equipment is - but as the
supplier of choice to 50% of Europe’s Michelin starred restaurants I think this
speaks for itself. What I can share is my experience and pictures of the venue
There has been a bit of backlash on Twitter and in some quarters of the print media about bloggers and people who post reviews on sites such as Trip Advisor – or rather a small minority of bloggers and people who post reviews on sites such as Trip Advisor that give ‘genuine’ users a bad name - Not all bloggers are blaggers and not all Trip Advisor posts are by malicious malcontents.
Anyone who thinks I am about to give a ‘positive review’ in exchange for a ‘freebie’ - consider the fact that after nine hours driving (three and a half going to London and five and a half to return); a tank and a half of petrol and a day’s parking in London, it would have been easier and of a similar expense for me to have had a lunch at Sat Bains’ proper in Nottingham (something I plan to do in September).
Instead, I am about to give a ‘positive review’ because, as expected, the food was exceptional, the location amazing and the whole once in a lifetime experience, a complete joy.
Food and venue aside (which I will come to) one of the best parts of a meal in The Cube for me was the interaction with the chef – seeing the team cook and plate up, talking to them, picking their brains and having banter. Something that is much harder to do at each of the featured chefs’ restaurants.
For the chefs, I’m guessing the experience is about exposing their food to a new audience… perhaps in the hope that some or all of them will visit or recommend their actual restaurants. Also, it must be exciting for a chef to cook in this environment – up close and personal to the customers and within view of The Thames, The London Eye, Cleopatra’s Needle and not to mention the Houses of Parliament and what has to be the world’s most famous kitchen timer Big Ben.
I took my seat amongst members of the print media and blogging royalty including The Critical Couple and Niamh Shields from Eat Like A Girl – the table seats eighteen and can be booked in twos, by small groups or in its entirety. One end of the table saw the guests seemingly hovering over the Thames David Blaine stylee or the end near the kitchen overlooking one of the country’s best chefs – I bagged the chef’s table.
NG27 2SA : an unusually, yet cleverly named amuse bouche that comes as standard on Sat Bains menus. All ingredients having being sourced from what is seasonally available within the restaurant’s postcode. This one featured a subtle horseradish panacotta with a wild garlic velouté
Scallop – vanilla – tomato – strawberry : outside The Cube sunshine was desperately trying to break through the grey clouds that hovered above London’s skyline; inside The Cube summer came to life through Sat’s tomato and strawberry topped scallops.
The scallops themselves had been lightly seared on one side, allowing the residual heat to finish them off to perfection. An olive oil sauce added a delightful peppery note whilst a vanilla and elderflower mayonnaise lifted the whole dish with another spectacularly summery swish.
Jersey Royals – dashi – onion juice – ham : the potato dish was stunning, with a gentle Japanese dashi broth and sweet, pickled shallots. The ham air-dried in Nottingham was up there with the best British charcuteries that I’ve had. Wild garlic flowers added a pretty as well as tasty touch but the component that really wowed in this dish was the flavoursome cubes of pork belly – sublime.
Spring Lamb – leek smoked – charred : featuring a goat’s cheese purée with ash, lemon curd, charred leeks and a caper sauce. The British spring lamb was served in a delicious slow cooked ragù with seaweed and a meltingly tender braised shoulder.
I loved this dish and polished it off pretty quickly which triggered a bit of jokey repartee with Sat saying he now knows why I am called ‘Hoss’ – at first I joked it was more to do with the small portion sizes as opposed to my greediness but conceded that it was because it was just so delicious.
Banbury Cake – Beauvale cheese – port syrup : for those that have not yet heard of ‘Beauvale cheese’, it is a continental style by the Cropwell Bishop Stilton manufacturers. It was my first time to taste this new blue and I’d like to make the bold statement that it was at least as good as the best Dolcelatte, Roquefort and Gorgonzola cheeses that I’ve tasted.
Luckily for me, with the banter over the lamb Sat decided to tease and give me a double helping of the cheese. Of course, I now joked that the dish was ‘unbalanced’ and that I ‘needed’ another slice of the Banbury cake – Sat laughed and then hooked me up with another piece – result.
To go with the fruity and nutty Banbury cake we were served a Smith Woodhouse Fine Tawny Port – I love Port but have not come across this one before. Smooth and mellow fruit flavours complemented the dish perfectly – this had also been used to make the syrup.
(Wine pairings had been served throughout, as well as champagne on arrival – due to the fact that I was driving; I literally had just a sip of each. As usual with my posts, I’m not an expert on wine so prefer not to comment.)
Chocolate – yoghurt – cumin – lime : after the ‘cheese course’ the first dessert was a chocolaty hit from a delicious smooth ganache. Sat explained the process but it was too complicated to jot down or remember – the results however were memorable with an exotic twist coming from the set yoghurt, cumin, lime and coriander.
Treacle sponge – lemon – pine : using Albert and Ferran Adrià’s microwave technique to make light as a cloud sponge cake with treacle, lemon and Douglas-fir. On it’s own this course did not particularly wow me as much as the others… until I tasted it with the paired Sparkling Lachamte Sake – a fruit filled revelation that really elevated the sponge.
The petit four was Sat’s take on the childhood favourite Mivvi ice-lolly with a beetroot parfait, with white chocolate and freeze dried raspberries – a wonderful, playful and tasty end to a fabulous meal in an awe-inspiring setting.
To book this unique experience visit www.electrolux.co.uk/Cube/London
I can’t wait to visit Restaurant Sat Bains in Nottingham and will hopefully get back down to The Cube to experience one of the other chef’s food before it moves on to another city.