Cub is collaboration between Ryan Chetiyawardana – he’s the cocktail bloke who’s bar, Dandelyan at the Mondrian, was recently listed no.2 in the World’s 50 Best Bars, and Doug McMaster, who’s made a name for himself in the Brighton food scene with his zero-waste restaurant Silo.
I’ve certainly never been to a restaurant quite like Cub. We’re seated in a bright yellow booth (awkwardly close to another couple) at a table made from yoghurt pots. The lampshades? Well that’s paper mulch, naturally. Even the concrete was made with environmentally friendly something or other.
It’s a stunning space.The open kitchen/bar sees neither chef nor bartender but a blend of the two calmly creating veg heavy dishes and cocktails to go with them.
We go for the set menu (£45) which is the best way to get the full experience. It starts with water jelly and smoked herbs atop a light cracker. There is salt and vinegar in little shakers which is a fun touch. This is matched with a small glass of Krug – a finer Champagne there is not. What a treat.
A plate of green tomatoes with diced peaches tastes as fresh as anything; it’s a marvellous palate cleanser. They’re unripe – not usually something you’d serve – but after a good ol’ brine in lemon verbena they’re delicious.
Next up is chervil root, an ingredient that wouldn’t normally excite steak-loving me. Slices of the stuff, which are admittedly low in flavour, are paired with an emulsion of whey, which they get from Neal’s Yard Dairy, a prime example of their no waste ethos. It’s such a comforting dish – like a cuddle on a rainy day.
The cuddles continue with ‘shrooms on shrooms’. Playing homage to the king oyster mushroom it comes raw, roasted, in duxelles form and a broth. If you like mushrooms, you’re in for a treat. The umami hit is quite something.
Bread comes from e5 Bakehouse which has a gloriously chewy crust. We use it to soak up the rest of the mushroom broth as to not waste a drop. Being the last of the savoury dishes, with not a scrap of meat in sight, we’re surprisingly full. It feels well balanced. The butter’s amazing by the way and made on site.
Desserts are an addictive buttermilk ice cream with woodruff and apple followed by a Square Mile coffee and cognac cocktail which finish things on a high. The drink comes with a mint Matchmaker sticking out of it – I’m not sure how sustainable that bit is!
The whole Cub experience is certainly unusual and exciting. Has it made me consider a vegan lifestyle? Possibly not. But it has shown that a meal full of vegetables prepared in a considered and thoughtful way can make for a very nice dinner indeed. And I didn’t need a kebab afterwards.
Would we go back? Yes.
We dined as guests of the restaurant