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Cuisson, the Michelin-level private dining company is offering its second popup of the year, or more specifically POPdown. Having previously been invited to try their afternoon tea in Burlington Arcade (see what we thought) we were keen to find out more about this event.
POPDown is an interactive dining experience, where diners are invited to experience Michelin-level cuisine at very affordable prices. The team of chefs behind the constantly changing menu bring previous experience from The Fat Duck, Le Gavroche, Maze and Danesfield House – more than sufficient collective experience for any gastronomic gathering.
The setting for the seven course tasting pop-down event is the basement of Borough Barista near Trafalgar Square. We were the first ones to arrive for the evening, but this gave us a couple of minutes to absorb the atmosphere of the space. Very stripped back, the space is filled with simple tables and understated chairs with a couple of wooden screens made from pallets, there was a semi-industrial feel. However as the evening developed the lack of distraction from furnishings allowed an emphasis and focus on the food itself.
We started with a Cuisson cocktail and homemade bread with cultured Jersey butter, which had been made by being fermented for three days then churned with truffle oil, whilst everyone was arriving and introductions for the event being made.
Aside from a small back kitchen, the plating of each meal was done on a low counter in front of all the guests. This meant we had the opportunity to interact with the chefs, ask questions and even do some of the plating of food if we wanted.
The first full course was a tomato consommé with goats cheese noodles and basil infused oil. The noodles were made by mixing the cheese with cream cheese with 2 gelling agents and finally piped into noodles. As with all Cuisson dishes, food combinations that are known to combine well (in this case cheese, tomato and basil, which you may find atop a pizza for example) are all deconstructed and then reconstructed into a dish that seems almost beyond the limits of imagination.
Second course was a watermelon carpaccio, with hazelnuts, parmesan and sorrel. The watermelon had a true resemblance to the meat carpaccio in both texture and colour, which we learnt was achieved by putting the watermelon through several heating/freezing processes to remove as much water as possible and then a final drying. This was a true confusion of the senses, as our brains were expecting meat, yet a slightly sweet fruit flavour was received instead.
Fermented sausage with apple butter and ginger was next on the menu. This twist (fermentation of the sausage) on the traditional flavour combination of sausage and apple added further dimensions to the dish. Whilst we couldn’t have eaten much more than the portion size, this was most definitely a most pleasing curiosité on the palate.
The remaining two dishes were a ricotta ‘hummus’ with pickled mushroom and flaxseed, followed by a cured salmon. This salmon, having been cured and par-cooked meant and incredibly soft meat, and was by far the most popular dish of the evening.
Dessert was served in the form of a white chocolate panna cotta with coconut, matcha sponge and blueberries. We did have some apprehension about the sponge as matcha has a bitter taste – however the Cuisson chefs had done their chemistry homework, meaning the sponge was light, scented with matcha and not at all overpowering.
POPdown had originally just been planned as a short summer event, but given its success it continues throughout the summer until 3rd October on Thursday, Friday and Saturday evenings.
As the menu changes rapidly, there will new menu items available by the time of publication. Head to cuisson.co.uk for a few hints about what the latest dishes might be and to book your ticket. Tickets are priced at £39 per person.