Culinary Digest: The Cube by Electrolux, London

Tom Kitchin: Scotland’s youngest Michelin-starred chef and one of the few Michelin-starred chefs serving up dinner at the Royal Festival Hall this summer.

What the experts say

Lisa Markwell, The Independent: The Cube is a pop-up restaurant that has already popped up in Stockholm, Milan and Brussels; it is a concept created by the Electrolux brand to show off its birthday: it has been creating slick kitchens for 90 years. Electrolux has invited a selection of stellar chefs to cook in rotation, including Tom Kitchin, Claude Bosi and Daniel Clifford. If all that sounds a bit corporate and dull, it’s not. The space, for one thing, is pretty dazzling. Perched above London’s Royal Festival Hall, the white box has joyous views out across the Thames.

Amuse Bouche: Chilled Fennel Soup

What the diners say

Chef and blogger Steve Bennett: The ‘restaurant’ itself is glass walled on three sides, allowing stunning vistas of the city and it was a fantastic vantage point for the recent flotilla which travelled along the Thames to celebrate the Queen’s golden jubilee.Each time the cube moves it is taken apart and rebuilt at a huge cost, previously to London it was in Milan, and they are currently building a second cube in Stockholm to allow multiple cubes to operate at the same time. One of the best parts of the cube experience, is that as well as offering stunning views of London, you get the chance to watch top chefs in action, and chat to them and ask questions as you go.

Starter: A rockpool of West Coast shellfish served with sea vegetables and a warm shellfish consomme.

Luxury Travel Beat’s verdict:

I’m not going to lie, I had extremely high expectations ahead of our dinner appointment at the cube. Why, you ask? Well because I reviewed the Tram Dining Experience in Brussels, a unique dining experience courtesy of Electrolux, this time in Brussels, which we all know gives Paris a good run for its money as a foodie destination.

So were my expectations met? Were they ever! I’ll start by letting the pictures speak for themselves:

Boned and rolled pig’s head, served with roasted tail of langoustine and a crispy ear salad.

Rack of lamb cooked on a bed of hay serced with Scottish girolles

Dessert: Glazed lemon tart served with a lemon macaroon and creme fraiche sorbet.

The verdict: I won’t be able to recommend the dessert heartily since by the time it came around I was full to the brim, and my taste buds numb from decadent overindulgence. But I will say this: there are worse ways to spend an evening in London.

The whole affair, which started at 7pm and ended at 22:30 (so plan accordingly), was pleasurable from start to finish. It kicks off with champagne and cheese sticks on the balcony, with views of the London Eye, Big Ben and River Thames on a warm breezy summer afternoon as the backdrop. Just this is enough to make the good old soul happy at the end of a busy day, yet about half an hour later, we are all ushered into the cube, where the action begins.

There are two ladies who based on their welcoming smiles and polished demeanours appear to be hosts. However, it quickly becomes apparent that the chef responsible for the evening’s culinary journey, Tom Kitchin, is the real host. He welcomes us by saying: “You’ve got to drink lots of wine, that’s what makes it so special.” which gives my gives me pause: Is he suggesting we would need to get sloshed to actually enjoy the evening’s offerings?

Tom Kitchin addressing diners at The Cube.

All 18 guests at the long dinner table laugh nervously, but are soon encouraged to relax with an admonition to not only feel at home but also feel free to walk right to the open kitchen area where about eight chefs are in action and be nosy about the ingredients and the various cooking methods. The atmosphere is so informal that most of us go ahead and do just that in between courses. Others are content to just enjoy the views the glass walls afford us of the city, which by now is bathed in various hues of light to illuminate the night. It all feelsvery much like a pleasant dinner party.

Kitchin introduces every course, taking the time to explain the process of making it, where in Scotland the ingredients are from and sometimes even gives a few cooking tips. We find out that he has tried to keep the menu as close as possible to what one would find in his award-winning restaurant back in Edinburgh where he is based. In between serious food talk he cracks jokes which truly leave a lot of us in stitches. I doubt I have ever been this relaxed in the presence of a Michelin-starred chef.

Razor clams, or spoots, as they call them in Scotland

If I had to choose a favourite from this evening’s courses, it would be the razor clams, which Kitchin described as being very similar to scallops but a whole lot cheaper. “That’s Scots for you!”, he quips. The scallops come later in the course of the night, innovatively baked in their shells, sealed with a bit of pastry on the edge. This is my second favourite course of the night.

Hand-dived Orkney scallops baked in their shell, served with a white wine sauce.

This is all fine and dandy, I hear you say, but what’s the catch? Honestly? The price. The Tram Experience in Brussels, which is also an Electrolux concept, sets diners back only €75, though in all fairness it’s a three-course dinner while The Cube’s six-course dinner costs £215 per head. But taking into consideration the fact you can dine at several Michelin-starred establishments in London for half that price, some might think the price is as high as The Cube’s location. But is it worth it? Totally.

The Cube by Electrolux The Royal Festival Hall, London SE1, tel: 020 7288 6450. Open daily, lunch at 12pm, £175; dinner 7pm, £215 (price includes champagne reception, minimum six-course tasting menu and matched wines)

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