It's been a while since I last went to a pop-up, so I once again went with my gut feeling and booked a couple of tickets to Chef Ben Spalding's Stripped Back at Redhook Restaurant.
The concept began 15 months ago in Broadway Market in Hackney, and has supposedly been 'hugely' successful.
The meal was described as to 'consist of breads, butter, eight servings of balanced, creative & delicious food, along with a few unexpected twists in between'.
My instinct chose to take their word for it.
The last few dinner and pop-up experiences that I selected for us have been good, so Mr D let me take the lead in the decision-making for this...
It was a Sunday evening, which we later realized was not quite an ideal day:
1. Not many places are open on a Sunday, including Redhook - we got to Farringdon earlier than expected and did a little stopover at Zetter Townhouse for some drinks instead.
2. Apparently a 'storm' was coming that very day, and it was overly-dramatized all over the news and Twitter - I brought my new WINDPROOF DOUBLE-CANOPY umbrella just in case...
The selection of wine was very limited, with rather extortionate prices, in my opinion.
I frowned in disapproval as Mr D ordered an average bottle of Shiraz that cost £18.00.
The first dish that was placed in front of us had a few spicy rice crackers in it.
Me: 'This looks like the ones you get out of the packet at the Japan Centre or Chinatown.'
Mr D: 'Maybe it is...'
Anyway, we assumed that it was just some nibbles to 'whet out appetites'...
Next, we were served some crackers (or rather 'A' cracker, broken in half) with Viking(?) butter, sprinkled with some muscovado sugar, on a piece of metal. A waiter also come round with a platter of rice-cakes for us to pick off.
Mr D: "It feels like I'm eating the ingredients of a cake mix."
Me: (ignores Mr D and curiously inspects the piece of metal) "Maybe we could break some plates and use the pieces to serve food in our kitchen next time."
I'm pretty sure in the 'key details' we were supposed to be served bread...
Maybe the shops ran out of bread as everyone was frantically hoarding food in preparation for 'the end of the world'. A.k.a. rain.
Crabmeat with grapes and parmesan. And I think there were some chopped almonds in it as well. Finally a substantial looking dish - things were starting to look up.
We did like this dish, nice different flavours in each mouthful, and a decent portion too.
And then we were faced with this...
It was some salmon belly dish with slices of guava, cucumber, onion and vermicelli.
There was a moment that both of us looked at it, speechless...
Me: "It looks like someone's leftovers."
Mr D: "It looks like a salad."
Me: "Maybe it IS a salad." (watches as Mr D picks out the cucumber slices and drops them in my already sad-looking plate)
By this time we were both trying to guess how many 'servings' we had actually been given - and whether those rice crackers should be included in the count...
Before our next dish arrived, we were handed a sheet of paper which read 'Here are the cuts of cow that are in your next dish...'
This got us a bit more excited again, as we eagerly anticipated what our next dish would be.
And then THIS came out...
A bowl of mushed up meat, with a piece of VERY hard bread on the side - even 6ft 7" Mr D struggled to break it apart.
We each had different visualizations of the dish - this was definitely not one of them.
And as if the previous dishes weren't already disappointing enough...this was dessert.
White chocolate, peanut butter, and jam.
Even more silence as we started at the disaster that was laid in front of us.
Me: "What IS this?!"
Mr D: "White chocolate."
Me: "It looks like someone attempted to make a cake and then ran out of time to leave it in the fridge for it to set." (Spoons up the distasteful-looking puddle and shoves it into mouth)
Now, I've eaten deconstructed desserts before, like the delicious cheesecake at Parlour. But never have any of those looked as abysmal as this.
Alongside that, we were served cups of malt milkshake...
Me: "This tastes like Ovaltine."
Mr D: (takes a sip, and face scrunches up in disgust)
I mean, who makes MALT MILKSHAKE. Sometimes sticking to basics works out better, like chocolate or strawberry, maybe?
Even the funky looking straws could not salvage it.
One of my favourite courses of a meal - RUINED.
This is probably the first time that I can admit that I made the wrong choice - it's usually Mr D that makes the bad decisions. I think it's starting to rub off on me.
Considering we paid £34.00 (+£1.50) per person (excluding drinks), maybe not quite our money's worth. In terms of food that is. Although we did get a good dose of humour from it...
The entire meal felt more like a roller-coaster ride - with more downs than ups.
I don't usually like writing negative posts, but looking back at the whole experience, this was just too disastrous to miss out in my archive...
I'm sure Chef Ben Spalding is a very talented (and good looking) man - but maybe he just took the twists a bit too far...
This post will clearly make mum and dad question about their dear daughter's spending and choice of food. They will be visiting soon - I better choose wisely this time.
I also should start cooking again at home more often.
And I am even tempted to bake a white chocolate and peanut butter cake of some sort this weekend - just so I can wipe out the horrid nightmares and rekindle my love for them again.
The Cheekster, signing out x