"Ok, where do you want to go?" he yelled from the other room...
"Let's see. Oh I know. The Cube"
He popped his head around the door "Let me get this straight. You want me, a recently unemployed LPC student to spend £400 on lunch. Are you having a mare?"
"The greedy man curses and spurns God"(Psalms 10.3) I retorted solemnly. A pair of socks sailed through the air at my head. Half an hour later I was placated, albeit demonstratively sullen in chomping down my burger at Gourmet Burger Kitchen.
Now, for those of you unfamiliar with The Cube it is a brand new London Pop-up perched atop the Royal Festival Hall. As 50% of all Michelin star chefs in Europe use Electrolux, the company has created a unique dining experience where up to 18 guests at a time can enjoy a 5 course meal with matched wine, prepared by some of Europe's finest Michelin star chefs. For the next four months Tom Kitchin, Sat Bains, Daniel Clifford, Jonray and Peter Sanchez and Claude Bosi will all be waving their magic forks over their own individual and incredibly unique menus.
So imagine my delight as I entered the great glass elevator of the Royal Festival Hall and sailed up to the 6th floor. Doe re mi fa so la ti.. DOE chimed the elevator (no really). I was then escorted through a labyrinth of corridors until we emerged blinking into the sunlight. My eyes adjusted to the brightness and to London spread out like a tapestry at my feet.
I stood glass of champagne in hand and enjoyed the warm breeze & canapes. Now I'll be the first to admit that I'm a 'sit down to a hearty meal' kinda girl and have never been an enormous fan of conceptual cooking, so I wondered whether the food would live up to the standards of my primitive palate.
We began with a Hibiscus Flower and Pineapple Soda. Now I'm hard pressed to describe the taste since I've simply never tasted anything like it. Guzzle guzzle guzzle- it went down a treat.
Then Claude came out from behind the counter to introduce his next dish. He spoke with a delicious French accent as he presented the "Confit of asparagus cooked in butter infused with toasted 'ey".
"Hay?!" objected my pepper is a walk on the wild side tastebuds. However, I didn't bring them along to argue and shoved the glistening emerald vegetable into my mouth. 'Aah' we all sighed. The fine mellow flavour of the asparagus was superbly complimented by the rounded taste of the butter tinged with the scent of buxom milkmaids and country pastures. So THAT was what the hay was for. Boy oh boy I was coming around to this new way of cooking. The asparagus was accompanied by Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale 2002.
Next up. New Caledonian Shrimp, Onion and Strawberry Vierge. Again I am surprised by how the flavours interact. The aromatic smooth prawn meat is perfectly balanced against the sweet sharp tang of the strawberries. Accompanied by Ribolla Gialla, Vigna Traverso 2011. This is followed by the most divine Cornish Cod Girolles with Lancashire mead, with a side of soft and mild mushroom ketchup. The Moris Vermentino Maremma Toscana 2011 was the perfect accompaniment with its dry sherry taste and low acidity, achieved by letting the grapes sit in a cold, dark room for 24 hours after they are picked. And then we have the Label Anglais Chicken with peas, ginger and pink grapefruit accompanied by SOC Grenache Blanc, Domaine Ey 2009. I catch Claude's eye as he is putting the finishing touches to the deserts and give him a huge grin and a thumbs up; what else can you do when the food is so good. Besides I'm scared of letting my motormouth go before his culinary genius, so a thumbs up it is.
Now onto the desserts. You are probably bored by now of having to listen to me harping on about my love for all things sweet (my dinner a couple days ago was a whole can of condensed milk in front of the tele). In fact my enjoyment of food is directly correlated to its sugar content and it is through some divine miracle that my teeth are still my own. So when out came the Charlotte Strawberry with celeriac and Szechuan pepper I didn't expect to like it. But like it I did. The flavour was intensely unusual with the pepper numbing the mouth slightly whilst the celeriac and strawberry cooled and fizzed (with Clos poggiale, vin de Corse 2007). Then came the Pièce de résistance a plate of white, cream and olive coloured blobs. I mixed a few colours together and spooned them into my mouth. *fireworks*, had I died and gone to heaven? "What in god's name is this?" I questioned. We then played the guessing game around the table and had all sorts of absurd suggestions from potato mousse to escargot souffle. Claude finally put us out of our misery White asparagus with white chocolate, whey and coconut. My desert barely had time to touch the plate it sat on before it was extinguished and washed down with the most divine Hungarian Royal Tokaji Late Harvest 2009.
As I walked home along the embankment I was exquisitely happy. The combination of the truly magnificent food, wonderful wine and the technicolor London skyline is enough to impress even the surliest of dispositions and reform even the most die hard sceptic of haute cuisine. The whole concept is very much an experience orientated one. It is not about stuffing yourself silly or trying conventional dishes done well. You go to The Cube to be surprised, forget everything you thought you liked and to surprise yourself.
The Cube by Electrolux. Seats are priced at £175 per person for lunch and £215 for dinner, Monday to Sunday. To book a table click here.