When I moved to London 7 years ago to start working in the restaurant industry, one of the first things I did was poll my esteemed colleagues for the best London restaurants. A name that showed up in several of the replies was Hibiscus. All these years later, I still haven't managed to go. So when I was invited for lunch at The Cube, the restaurant popup organised by Electrolux, I was first surprised, then very happy, and when I found out that Claude Bosi of Hibiscus would head up the kitchen I was really excited!
Anyone with an interest in restaurants have probably heard of The Cube by now. With previous runs in Milan and Brussels, this year sees the space ship like one room restaurant (check out these photos) descend on London. During four months a number of well renowned chefs from all over the UK take turns serving world class food paired with excellent wines while the diners enjoy a unique view of the London skyline.
Enough with the marketing spiel, let's just sum it up as being quite cool. Despite that, being in the middle of wrapping up my employment at Livebookings, I actually managed to forget the whole thing! Left for work in a scruffy t-shirt, so when I remembered where I was going for lunch I went shirt hunting on Lower Marsh. Found what I myself consider a rather stylish shirt, in the spirit of Paul Winch-Furness, the restaurant photographer with the coolest name.
After travelling to the sixth floor of Royal Festival Hall in the singing elevator (yes, there were people travelling up and down just to listen to the lift doing it's thing), I was guided to the balcony with a glorious view of the South Bank. As I turned the corner and saw the entrance to The Cube itself I almost felt like I was set to embark on a space flight. It looks like a set piece from 2001, A Space Odyssey. That 60s space opera "timeless" (at the time...) look married with clean Scandinavian simplicity. It looks great.
While we were plied with bubbly our friendly hosts talked about how the whole thing had been organised (they have been working on this since December last year...), and I met the lovely Celina Mann who blogs over at "Portsmouth Food Lovers" and May Chong of "Slow Food Kitchen".
We were then seated at the table and had the mandatory Electrolux marketing talk (and this was actually the only time during the entire four hours that Electrolux was mentioned) delivered by our excellent sommelier who's name I have rudely forgotten (hey, it's his own fault, pouring all that fantastic wine down my greedy gullet), and then the lunch started.
And what a lunch. To a playlist put together by Claude Bosi, who apparently is big into his jazzy sounds, we were treated to seven courses with matching wines, all introduced by mr Bosi who happily answered questions and explained how the dishes were made.
Dining at The Cube is quite the spectacle. The Cube is just one room, with dining area and kitchen section just next to eachother, so guests are encouraged to walk over and watch what's going on and ask questions.
For every course our sommelier presented a different wine, and why he had picked that particular one, the grapes, the maker and so on. And let's just say that servings were generous. I did no more work that day...
Normally, with such an extensive menu being served, by the end of it I have a favourite or two. This time I was really hard pressed to pick one, it was all splendid. Perhaps the very first dish stood out, confit asparagus cooked in butter infused with toasted hay. Served with a dark hollandaise made from said butter. Melt in mouth perfection, I don't think I have ever tasted asparagus that good.
While it isn't the cheapest meal in London (seats are priced at £175 per person for lunch and £215 for dinner), and to be clear, I didn't have to pay for my visit, I would say that the experience is incredibly impressive and I left feeling very satisfied. Unique, generous, world class, unrivalled, iconic, exciting, all the words used in the marketing of The Cube hold true.
Plating up with tweezers... Daintiness factor: 100.
Result. Shrimp served with an onion and strawberry sauce. Worked amazingly well together.
Everything I love on a plate. Fish, mushroom, bacon. And ketchup! Mushroom ketchup, that is.
Chicken on a bed of peas and a sauce with ginger and pink grapefruit. Mr Bosi wanted to specifically point out that this was made from English chicken, as he feels it is not just as good as the French but also much cheaper. There you go.
We were treated to some delicious desserts. Here strawberry with a celeriac cream!
This is apparently a classic Hibiscus dish, but Claude will not say what it is. I won't ruin the surprise, just confirm that it is absolutely fantastic.
A nice little finishing touch. This is what Aero Bubbly Chocolate should taste like!