Living near Waterloo station has some perks. We used to have the Eurostar on our doorsteps, now we have the Railway Children performances (no, really).
But sometimes we also have some special, one offs events which are worth checking out. One of these is surely the Minotaur, a temporary art exibit with music with a bar with a bunch of Michelin starred chefs. We decided to check it out with a coupe of friends. It’s all quite strict and you need to pay a non refundable deposit of £25 per person to book. This will then be taken off the final bill, which will consists of a £75 three course menu.
We walked through the ‘box office’ door which is right behind Lower Marsh and super easy for us to get to. As soon as we walked in, it felt like we were in a really ‘exclusive’ place, if you can so define such a type of hyped, upmarket event. The tunnels under the station have been used already in a variety of roles from graffiti artists events to Old Vic performances so it was good to see yet another form of use of those damp and dark arches.
To get to the dining area, we were escorted through the art installation rooms, which included spooky statues, light forms, industrial style pieces, smoke and strange noises.
We then walked through the bar, again, shrouded in semi darkness with candles and neon lights on the walls and a dj up on a booth. We checked in.
The dining area appeared behind black curtains, beautiful – it felt like a movie, where you half expect to see masked, tuxedo-ed men courting naked ladies (think ‘Eyes Wide Shut’). The room was busy, with different size tables dotted around the vaulted cavern and a mezzanine, where we were actually sat. Yet more darkness (hence the rubbish photos, it was near impossible to read the menus), flowers, dripping candles.
Thankfully our waitress was there to tell us about the two chefs who were cooking that night (Matthias Schmidt and Ollysan) and their menus. 3 of us opted for Ollysan sushi menu, while my other half went for Matthias Schmidt meaty menu.
We received the amuse bouche which was half forgettable (a bliny type thing with sour cream on top) and half memorable (some form of alchoolic hazelnut and apple mini drink).
A mixed start.
The first course arrived, a bit too quickly to have been made to order in my view. The first course for us was sashimi. A gloopy shrimp, a semi gloopy sea bream, salmon eggs, two good fresh pieces of yellow fin tuna and two chunky pieces of scottish salmon (no information of their provenance unfortunately which makes me doubt the sustainability of them). The sashimi was served with soya sauce and with a lemon and sugar dip which was simple but so good. The overall result was ok but not more than that.
My other half starter was cutely presented in an egg box (but then why only fill 5 holes?). Each hole had a carefully cut egg shell filled with eggs or chicken prepared in various way. I tried some of these and did not like the Truffle scrambled eggs (cold and too soft), while I loved the Jerusalem artichoke chicken liver pate and the Pickled quail egg.
Second course arrived. My husband had a Risotto with mushrooms and almond which was pretty tasty but not at a par with a Michelin start establishment. Also it was flooded with mushrooms and husband cannot eat them. The fact that I had called in advance to warn of this problem was completely ignored on the night which again, is not really ideal if you are paying top dollars. Mind you, we also did not bother reminding the waitress!
Our second course was sushi and was, in my opinion, better than the sashimi particularly the Avocado and lobster roll which yet had no lobster flavour nor appearance. The quail egg with truffle was an interesting combination. The sushi rice was beautifully prepared and seasoned, if a little stiff (pre prepared hours earlier?).
The final and main course arrived. Strange enough, on the sushi menu this was a Grilled fillet of American beef, with mashed potatoes. It was incredibly tender, well cooked and massive – yet somehow I thought it was a bit of a let down given the supposed calibre of the chefs cooking it (just a little basic, that’s all). The meat menu included a Roast lamb with artichokes which was also good but unimpressive.
Desserts are not included in the set menu, and we decided to share one – we opted for Chocolate and Mango which was nice, very good flavour on the chocolate but was really on the stingy side (priced at £9!) and had herbs on top which frankly, added nothing.
We had to leave the table at 9.30 which was fine as we’d been warned of the turnaround time.
We enjoyed a good wander through the interesting if a little freaky art show, and had a drink at the bar. The bill came to 444£ including a bottle of white wine (£28) and 5 more glasses of house wines. They charged us for cover charge and service charge (listed as cover charge again)!
In my humble opinion, it was way too much for the food that was served and from a foodie point of you, I feel a bit cheated. Yet it was a very interesting venue set up, with a fantastic atmosphere. It did feel like something special and unusual and we thoroughly enjoyed our evening so this respect – money totally well spent!
I have dearly missed having a 'local' pub: comfort, great food, familiarity. While the Talbot in SE4 is a little too far out for us to become regulars, we'll definitely be back to sample more of talented chef Sabrina Gidda's food. Find out more about this recently reopened Brockley local.