Kitchen Party Pop Up:
I might have ignored the invitation to review ‘a new fully immersive dining, drinking and entertainment concept’ if I hadn’t scanned down through the invitation and realised it read like a ‘who’s who’ of the London food and drink scene at the moment. With luminaries like Blanch & Shock providing the fine dining menu, Bourne & Hollingsworth the cocktail bar and with those crazy Russian Revellers trying to lure all of us into Eastern Europe via Clarkenwell the Kitchen Party Pop Up had to be worth a visit. And as it turns out I might just have found the perfect meatfest for Father’s Day!
We arrived for cocktails at Fourth Wall. I haven’t been to Bourne & Hollingsworth, but I have tried their cocktails before at Rev J W Simpson and enjoyed them a lot. My Hollingsworth Fizz was a long refreshing drink of gin shaken with cucumber, green tea and fresh lemon juice, topped up with soda. The Hedonist who was my companion for the evening was feeling a little poorly and ordered Port in a Storm – dark rum and port shaken with bitters, ginger syrup and fresh lime and topped with ginger beer. Just what the doctor ordered (though I preferred mine!). Cocktails are priced between £8 and £10, so you won’t blow your budget if you do indulge in more than one.
Now a moment of panic set in. I had asked in advance if Rack & Ruin, where we were going to dine, would provide a pescatarian meal. A peek around the door at the amazing contraption stacked with meat did make me wonder! But, all was well – they are happy to cater for fish eaters or even veggies, although they prefer advance notice for reasons that will become clear.
Rack & Ruin is the most informal of the dining experiences at Kitchen Party. I’m sure that Blanch & Shock are providing the type of inventive British food I’ve enjoyed on a few occasions already in the form of their four course tasting menu, while the Russian Revels experience is a theatrical event which includes games, theatre, dressing up and film screenings. I was even advised that on this occasion guests were being ‘interrogated’ before being allowed downstairs to eat!
The communal dining area of Rack & Ruin replaces shabby chic with industrial angst. A vast stainless steel grill stands like a teepee over a charcoal fire pit – and the asado sits primed with huge portions of meat at the rear of the room. Diners sit around a family style table and eat from wooden trencher boards. And, the South African braai chef stands controlling everything to ensure your meat is cooked just so.
Even the stalwart Hedonist was slightly unnerved and asked again. Yes, he was going to be fed – river trout in a bag as his main ‘course’ with everything else perfectly suitable for a pescatorian. He did have to suffer watching the rest of us engage in Ultra-Carnivorism of the most extreme kind.
We started with some perfectly respectable pates and dips – Mackerel, Hummus and Tzatziki before moving on to the meat. Now, my portion was deliberately scaled down. I’d already eaten a four course lunch earlier in the day and I was trying (and failing) to be restrained. It’s absolutely no use coming along expecting to eat a couple of sliders and a sausage. Think Big. For £25 you will be offered more than you can possibly eat – all delicious, succulent and fresh off the grill. And, foil baked potatoes with herby butter together with a mixture of grilled vegetables.
The Hedonist’s trout actually looked pretty good too.
There’s even a dessert of peach and ice-cream.
I left Rack & Ruin staggering under my ‘half portion’ of meat! It’s fun – communal dining at it’s easiest and most unstructured. And, the meat is delicious. Do go – and DON’T eat lunch first!
You can find out more about Kitchen Party from their website. It runs on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights. I believe the plan is to host a whole range of culinary projects over the next few months so do check out what is on offer!