"The square root of a very impressive meal"Review Rating: Reviewed by Matthew B
London's rooftops are hot right now - not literally, this summer they're getting rained upon more often than not. But this hasn't deterred whoever has some roof space going spare from trying to make the most of it. From Frank's Campari Bar on top of a Peckham car park to cinemas and entire roof parks in Dalston, we've suddenly had the urge to get up high, get some air and see what we can see.
So it's quite timely that Electrolux have decided to bring their Cube concept to London, after stints in Milan, Stockholm and Brussels. Perched atop the Royal Festival Hall, it's perfectly located to exploit the iconic Thames river view it commands, just along from that other rooftop dweller – the boat perched on the roof of the Hayward Gallery. It's also, whether by accident or design, situated so that when seated you do not have to look at the hoards thronging the Southbank below. After all, this is all about exclusivity so we don't want anyone impinging on our experience now do we?
It's a clean, not quite cube-shaped white and glass box, with a terrace in front to take in the view, a few photos, amuse bouches and some champagne before being seated. It was sunny the day we visited, but seeing ominous clouds and rain roll in would be just as impressive a vista.
The Electrolux branding is not too in your face, bar a few logos; the kitchen is in plain view so diners can see what's going on. The room seats only 18 on a single long white table. For me, the experience is akin to secret dining (remember that??), where the first thing you do upon being seated is introduce yourself to your fellow diners, and prey they aren't complete douches. Assuming they aren't, your meal then takes on an added social dimension.
The Cube has six Michelin-starred chefs on its roster, each preparing their own selection of dishes, and on our visit we had the pleasure of two-starred French chef Claude Bosi, patron of the Hibiscus restaurant in London (the others being Sat Bains, Daniel Clifford, Jonray & Peter Sanchez, and the aptly named Tom Kitchin).
This was a seven course blow-out with wine pairing. Topped and tailed with Claude Bosi's trademark Hibiscus flavours, the menu took in seasonal produce such as charlotte strawberry, pink grapefruit, asparagus, and fresh peas. I enjoyed not having to decide what to order, and if you are going to hand over the decision making process for your food and drink to the establishment, this is the sort of place to do it.
Stand-out dishes were the confit of asparagus with burnt hay, cornish cod with girolles and lancashire mead, and for dessert a rather unusual combination of strawberry, celeriac jelly and a Sczechuan pepper cream, which left one's mouth all a-tingle. Service was slick, friendly and informal, with plenty of explanatory notes on the accompanying wines.
So you’re thinking it all sounds pretty top-notch and worth a look? Well here's the but, and it's a fairly big but – the price. At £175.00 for lunch and £215.00 for dinner, it ain't cheap by anyone's standards. At Claude Bosi's own restaurant an eight-course menu is £105.00 without booze. I was told the pricing was intended to reflect an equivalent meal at the respective chefs' own establishments: that's fair enough if you are the sort of diner who works their way through the à la carte and the wine list. At least you know you're not going to get hit by a surprise bill at the end – here the price includes everything you eat and drink.
But it's a lot of money however you look at it. As it's a corporate sponsored event, it would have been nice for Electrolux to have taken just a little bit of the sting out of the bill. For those considering a visit, the selling point of the Cube lies not just in the food and drink, but the chance to get up-close and personal with a top chef. Here, with only 18 covers to serve, he's pretty chilled out with plenty of time to impart his wisdom. And if you're not bothered about that, there's always the view…
Matthew B reviewed The Cube by Electrolux on Wed 27 Jun 2012