Monday, 23 July 2012

Claude Bosi at The Cube by Electrolux

So we are back on top of the Royal Festival Hall for a return visit to The Cube. Needless to say it is great to be back. We were even looking forward to the ride in the very unusual "singing lift" up to the sixth floor. If ever you go here, you must seek out this highly original elevator.

The guest chef this time was Claude Bosi, the double Michelin starred owner of Hibiscus. In the kitchen with him as part of the small team was his former head chef at Hibiscus Marcus McGuinness. Claude himself told me that they plan to open a joint venture in London within the next four or five months. It will not however be fine dining, more an on trend simple format.

On arrival guests were offered a glass ( and unlimited top ups ) of Joseph Perrier Cuvee Royale 2002 and some inviting looking canapes in the form of cheese goujons and roasted garlic and black olive croquettes 

For those not familiar with The Cube let me explain.
Electrolux who supply half of Europe's Michelin starred chefs with cooking equipment wanted to showcase their move into the domestic market with a top quality range of goods that was good enough for professional chefs to use. So where better to show off their product than in a spectacular glass transportable building and sit it atop another spectacular building, in this instance The Royal Festival Hall.

Thankfully the weather was not too bad at this particular lunch service. Guests were able to enjoy the incredible view from the balcony whilst sipping their champagne. Eighteen diners in total are able to be seated at any one time. So in effect it is a little bit like a very posh dinner party with one of the top chefs in the country doing the cooking for you. Before I move on. Special mention should be made of the chargers which adorned the table. Claude Bosi brought them along especially from his restaurant. Each one was individually handmade and cost many hundreds of euros each, so we had to be most careful in handling them.

Listed as a five course meal to include wines, tea, coffee and a glass of champagne it does actually turn into more courses when you add  on nibbles, an amuse and pre dessert.
A little shot glass of  Hibiscus Flower and Pineapple was offered to tease the palate.

First course, and the one my wife was looking forward to was the Spider Crab, Cucumber and Green Mango, and cardamom oil. The crab was from Wales. It was explained that an old couple have retired there and decided to pick the crab for something to keep them busy during their retirement. Very much enjoyed by us both.

More to my liking, the next course read well, and ate very well indeed. Peas, Wincles, Chorizo, Chickweed. So English peas, Tiny briny Cornish wincles. Not sure where the chickweed was from, but the chorizo was most certainly from Spain.

I thought the menu to be well balanced and also liked the sound of the next course, Wild salmon, Pigs Head, Barigoule. 
Barigoule is a classic Provencal sauce usually served with artichokes or fish. Here of course it is served with them both. It is made with white wine, cream, tomato juice,chicken stock, garlic and various herbs. On top of the salmon was the skin which had been dried then deep fried to add an extra textural element to the dish.

Chicken seemed a good choice for the next course and it was listed on the menu as Label Anglaise Chicken, Liquorice, Banana, Kafir Lime. So the chicken was from Goosnargh in Lancashire. The idea for this dish came from Jerk chicken. Instead of plantain though fresh banana is used.The black line on the plate is liquorice. The banana is used as more of a condiment on the plate. Underneath the skin of the chicken was a mixture of onions and lime. Everyone in our immediate vicinity loved this dish.

Pre dessert next. Charlotte Strawberries, Celeriac, Szechuan Pepper. Most certainly an intriguing mix of ingredients. I initially thought I would not like the celeriac in this dish but it did not jar at all it was hardly noticeable. So from the bottom up. Strawberries, celeriac gel in the middle and black pepper szechuan cream on top. Claude Bosi explained the idea was to get all of the flavours together on the spoon. Unusual, but again the consensus of opinion by my fellow guests ranged from "gorgeous" to "wonderful"

Last but not least saw another vegetable used in a dessert dish. Peas! As in Peas, Moroccan Mint, Coconut. This was served on two dishes the Pea sabayon was in a salted chocolate tart case, and then in the other dish the coconut sorbet, topped with candied coconut. Again an unusual mix of ingredients which resulted in good conversation as to who did and who did not like it. Mostly we all liked it.

And finally tea or coffee with some "Aero" type of chocolates. The white was made with fresh mint and thyme and the dark made with seventy five per cent dark chocolate.

As before on our previous visit, guests were encouraged to interact with the chefs and an open invitation was offered to the kitchen. Indeed at one point there was that many guests milling around I could not see the chefs from my seat. So that worked a treat.

The beauty of this type of gathering is that guests can get up close and personal with their food heroes and meet new friends during the course of the meal.
Its been a while since our last visit to Claude Bosi's restaurant Hibiscus I am now considering a revisit after eating his food here.

The Cube runs until the end of September, after which it will appear in some other great City. So catch it while you can, before its too late.

Details here The Cube

Chef Claude Bosi and Marcus McGuinness.

We were invited to The Cube as a guest of Electrolux.

Square Meal Cube on Urbanspoon

Sunday, 8 July 2012


Birmingham can lay claim to being the foodie capital of the Midlands and after London the foodie capital of England. It is home to three Michelin starred restaurants, Purnells, Simpson's and Turners. Ok not many by London standards, but far far better than Manchester which has none.
It could also be hailed as the curry capital of the UK. Famed for its "Balti Triangle" an area just South of the City centre which boasts over 50 curry houses of all shapes and sizes. We were not here though to try the multitude of different tastes on offer there, we specifically wanted to return to Lasan.

The last time that we ate here was two years ago. Chef Aktar Islam was riding high on his hugely successful appearance on BBC television Great British Menu and Gordon Ramsay's televised F Word. Such was that success that obtaining a table was nigh on impossible at weekends for many months and equally difficult during the week. Ah the power of television.

Both my wife and I find Indian food intriguing. Not that we have cooked much of course. Well perhaps a little, but getting the balance of spicing seems to be the key to producing good results. In any event we prefer to leave it to the experts and Aktar Islam and his team of chefs are just that.

Very much in the vein of other top end restaurants we were offered an amuse of Minced Lamb Scotch egg, some poppadoms and an assortment of dips to get things started.

I must admit that we found all of the dishes on the menu tempting. It was varied in prime components like Lamb, Venison, Monkfish, Duck, Goat, King Prawns, etc,etc. Starters consisted of a choice of eleven. With twelve mains and a choice of eight desserts.

We could not resist the Konkan kekada. Soft shell crab in a crispy ajwain and Kashmiri batter. The inspiration for this dish was the winning fish course on BBC's Great British Menu.

Another starter which read well on the menu was Afghani Lamb.
Tandoori roasted free range Wiltshire Downs lamb cutlet with a soft shin and lentil pattie.

Mans ke shooley was next. Clove smoked, dry aged oyster of Herefordshire beef marinated with hung yogurt and mustard oil.

The venison also read well on the menu Hiran achari. Slow roasted osso bucco of wild venison, spiced roasted loin resting on curried pumpkin.

The loin of Lyme Bay monkfish had to be tried too. On the menu as Nellore chappa. It was pan fried in curried oil, and sat atop a spiced aubergine and crisp potato pakora. The sauce was "Andhra style". Coconut milk infused with curry leaves and mustard seeds soured with tamarind. Very generously extra sauce was provided for pouring.
This dish was the winning one for the "Ultimate Indian"  on UKTV's Perfect.

Very subtle spicing was evident in all of the dishes that we ate so far, but the Tamil style rustic curry that we were served next had a more direct fiery kick to it.
Kodi chettinad. Spring chicken in a spicy masala of roasted coconut, star anise, sundried chilli and black peppercorns.

Desserts next and we wanted to sample three of them, as follows.

Gajar halva somosa. A sweet carrot and pistachio pudding with crispy pastry served with kulfi and a mixed berry coulis

Chai panna cotta. Panna cotta flavoured with traditional spiced tea with a coconut sorbet.

And finally Spiced apple macaroon. A cinnamon scented apple and salted toffee macaroon, strawberry ice cream and raspberry crumble.

So there you have it, a decent selection of dishes for you to peruse over. In the main I have let the pictures do the talking. Some great presentation and of course what you don't know about is the true taste that we experienced on our visit. Which needless to say was far far superior than your normal curry house offering. Aktar Islam and his very talented chefs create complex dishes which tease the senses and we are in compleat admiration in what they put on the plate. Expect to be taken on a tasting tour of India with Kerelan, Bengali, Punjabi, Moghul, Kashmiri, Tamil etc, etc influenced cuisine.
As always on our visits the manager Syed was in charge on the day and as is the norm he delivered gracious service which is in keeping with this level of dining. Sadly though you do not always get it even at two Michelin starred restaurants.
As you may imagine with all the food that we ate plus drinks etc the bill was not cheap, but you know what they say about getting what you pay for.

Two years is really far too long for a revisit especially considering its not a million miles away from us.

Would we recommend a visit?


 Clearly a class act. We think its great.

Lasan Restaurant on Urbanspoon