The Cube is a four month pop-up restaurant on the roof of the Royal Festival Hall, brought to London by Electrolux (they sell kitchens). Throughout it’s time here a whole host of Michelin starred chefs are to take up residency and cook their hearts out to 16 diners at a time. The likes of Claude Bosi, Tom Kitchin and Sat Bains – heavy weights in the world of fine dining – have been chosen to cook in this unique venue. Lunch is priced at £175 and dinner at £215 which gets you a five course tasting menu with matching wines, water and tea or coffee.
I’d love to say that my gentleman companion and I have the kind of money to book this straight away – but sadly we don’t. I did however see the following post on Twitter by Electrolux:Tweet us WinElectrolux for your chance to win lunch w/ @Midsummerchef to celebrate Fathers Day in TheCube on Sunday! Winner announced Fri
I retweeted and thought the likelihood of winning was incredibly minute but lo and behold I ruddy won! The chef cooking this meal for us was Daniel Clifford – owner of the two Michelin starred Midsummer House in Cambridge, who recently cooked in the final banquet on the Great British Menu.
As it was Fathers Day I thought it only appropriate to take my Dad along with my gentleman companion. That left me with one ticket to lunch remaining but my Mum and sister couldn’t decide between them who should go as neither wanted to leave the other alone for the day. In the end, they decided it was fairer if neither of them went (mad surely?!).
We arrived on the 6th floor of the Royal Festival Hall (to get there we had to take the ‘singing lift’) and we were taken through some corridors then out on to The Cube’s terrace. The view over the Thames was unsurpassable.
As we sipped endless glasses of champagne and nibbled on cheesy choux pastry parcels we got chatting to Christian Zucco the restaurant manager. He was everything you could possibly want from a front of house manager – interesting, engaging, friendly – and I mentioned in passing how the two women in my family were at home twiddling their thumbs. He said that if they got there quickly enough they could join us for lunch as they had two spare seats. I quickly rang my Mum and before we knew it she and my sister were in a cab. It was so generous and kind of him to offer and it made the whole experience extra special.
As soon as they arrived (both a little flustered) the proceedings began with an amuse bouche of deconstructed Bloody Mary. It had a real kick to it.
The first course was crispy hen’s egg, grilled asparagus and asparagus veloute. It looked stunning and tasted the same. The veloute’s sole ingredient was asparagus (no cream was added) which gave it an intense flavour. The egg was poached then wrapped in potato and deep fried to give it the crispy texture. It’s the sort of dish that could convert me to being a vegetarian. The black powder was burnt onion which was a very intriguing addition.
Sauteed scallop, apple, truffle and celeriac was next. The scallops were the biggest I have ever seen and Daniel told me he has a Scottish fisherman from whom he gets them directly. The apple that was placed on top of the scallop in a Jenga like fashion is grown in his courtyard at the restaurant which gave this dish a very personal feel. We were then given an extremely generous shaving of truffle over the top which Daniel served himself at the table.
I couldn’t stop gushing every time I stood next to him saying how much we were enjoying it. It was partly due to all the wine and champagne I had consumed but mostly because we were absolutely loving it – how could we not? This is the dream dining experience – you eat Michelin star food in a small room with a great view, with an open plan kitchen so you can interact with the chef and ask as many questions and take as many photos as you like.
Next up was roasted quail, summer peas, sauteed girolles and wild garlic oil. As I stood at the pass watching the quails being cooked, Daniel told me they were being roasted on the bone to maximise the flavour. The quail was succulent and moist and the ballotine of leg meat had been wrapped in potato and deep fried to give it texture. The sauce was rich and brought every ingredient together. This dish was perfect.
Our final main course was slow roast rump of lamb, courgette, tomato, basil and Olde York cheese. Every dish had an introduction from Daniel detailing each ingredient and how the dish was prepared. The rump was a generous size and cooked medium rare yet the layer of fat on the top was crispy which gave immense flavour. The meat was incredibly tender. Underneath the grilled courgette was some diced Olde York cheese and raw courgette mixed with yoghurt. The cheese had a similar texture to Feta but was more creamy and worked perfectly to cut through the richness of the lamb.
Dessert was caramelised pineapple, pineapple sorbet and pineapple candy floss. Thank God I like pineapple. The candy floss sat on top of the plate like a light fluffy cloud. Underneath was a beautiful plate of food. Little caramelised cubes of brioche with the silky smooth sorbet gave a perfect balance of textures. It was a little too sweet for my Mum but that didn’t bother me so I gobbled up her candy floss.
We were then offered a glass of our favourite wine which was a lovely touch. To accompany our coffee we were given some homemade bay leaf and tarragon chocolates (yes you heard right) which were heavenly.
Finally Daniel showed us a demonstration of the Electrolux appliances (after all we were dining there thanks to them). Apparently, they supply over 50% of the kitchens to Michelin starred restaurants in Europe so they can’t be bad. I’d never heard of Electrolux but I certainly have now.
This was a truly unique lunch and by far the best dining experience I’ve had in London. Daniel signed my copy of the menu which was the perfect end to a perfect lunch.