There is nothing new in the pop-up restaurant – supper clubs and burger vans and dinners in tunnels have all been tried – but what is new is the oxymoronic feeling of permanence pop-ups now have. A pop-up isn't just for Frieze Week but for life
There is nothing new in the pop-up restaurant – supper clubs and burger vans and dinners in tunnels have all been tried – but what is new is the oxymoronic feeling of permanence pop-ups now have. A pop-up isn't just for Frieze Week but for life.
The latest example of this is The Cube, atop the Royal Festival Hall. A glass dining room sheathed in wide white honeycombs, it seems anything but evanescent. It has been devised by Electrolux to show off their top-of-the-range (if you'll pardon the pun) kitchen appliances: a roster of Michelin-starred chefs use Electrolux's professional and professional-quality domestic devices to create a meal served to you as you take in a riverside panorama.
This week the chef has been Daniel Clifford of Midsummer House in Cambridge, which has two Michelin stars. (That puts it way above Oxford which has no Michelin stars; Manoir doesn't count – it's not in Oxford.) He has not cooked elsewhere since he founded Midsummer House in 1998 and this is both surprising and not: why leave when you have a well-regarded kitchen of your own, and why stay when you could be in demand anywhere else?
If he leaves, I'd like him to come to London: food like this shouldn't stay in the Fens. After mooching our way inside softened up a glass of champagne on the deck, we walked past what looked like a tiny kitchen – quite how three chefs spun around one another there is a mystery. Being an open kitchen, it did at least prove that Clifford is no Ramsey or Aikens, for I noticed no swearing or branding with spoons.
I'm not good as lasciviously describing food, so you'll have to settle for 'delicious'. The hen's egg in the first course was poached then wrapped in tiny strips of potato, the whole thing being quickly cooked so you ended up with a molten egg amid a crispy potato carapace. Alongside asparagus and asparagus velouté, it mixed the salty and sweet to great effect.
A sautéed fifteen-year-old scallop followed, whose age had imparted a sweet, tangy flavour which lasted long after the mouthful, and then tiny pieces of a roast quail, including one piece confit.
Dessert was the most visually successful of all the courses: a thick chip of caramelised pineapple under a wispy white cloud of candy floss. The pineapple retained enough acidity to avoid an overload of sugar.
Clifford explained to us how he had devised and created each course, and there was plenty of praise for his tools. Turns out that Electrolux supply equipment to 50 per cent of Michelin-starred chefs in Europe, hence the appearance of The Cube first in Brussels and Milan, now in London and soon in Stockholm. It also made sense that when they asked five Michelin-starred chefs in the Uk to divorce their restaurants for a brief period, they said yes. That sort of pulling power has had wonderful results.
The Cube by Electrolux in London is open daily until 30 September. Weekdays Lunch: 12:00. Dinner: 19:00. Reservations required at all times. Set lunch: £175. Set Dinner: £215 (including all drinks)
Seats released every Monday at 9am CET to allow for reservations three weeks in advance
To book a table and find out more visit www.electrolux.co.uk/Cube/London