A Dining Experience not a Pop-Up at Cafe Royal with Pret a Diner:
As always with the Pret a Diner team, the concept of their latest dining experience ‘The Bohemians’ is imaginative, challenging and just a little controversial. Our invitation explained we should dress up Bohemian style and that the Hotel Cafe Royal would be ‘injected with pomp and splendour and a visual explosion to unsettle the history-burdened walls’.
True to form, The-Hedonist arrived resplendent with waiscoat, cravat and subtly checked suit. I was perhaps a little more half hearted, although personally I think a crushed velvet shift with little black boots is a pretty Bohemian outfit…maybe I needed a feather boa though. We were a little disappointed that our fellow diners were really more chic than boho but loved the room with its strip neon lighting and scattering of stuffed birds and other paraphernalia.
First, bespoke Pret a Diner cocktails at the bar. I would have been perfectly happy to just stay put for the evening in this elegant room which is normally part of the Cafe Royal Domino Club, but then again, there was a tempting menu to come.
We started with yet another cocktail (probably not a good idea for me – I generally stick to champagne based cocktails simply because I get a little dizzy with spirits). Gin and Jasmine Tea Punch was pretty but I have to admit to leaving it to one side simply so I could enjoy the matched wines without danger of falling under the table. Although perhaps it would have been more authentically Bohemian if I HAD allowed myself to lapse into an alcohol induced stupor.
A little platter of pretty snacks appeared. The chefs for this event were Andrew Turner (executive chef at the Cafe Royal) with two New York based Michelin Starred chefs – Patti Jackson and Ryan Tate, although the menu we ate was almost exclusively Andrew Turner’s work. No problem with that of course.
The tuna carpaccio with Gentleman’s Relish was another artistic tribute that looks like a pre-raphaelite painting on a plate.
Although there was a choice of three main courses on the menu, by the time we ate the beef was finished, so again we ended up with the same dish of seabass, piquillo pepper, fennel and dill.
Neither dishes were outstanding but nor were they in any way unpleasant. I suspect that perhaps we suffered by dining towards the end of the second service of the evening. In any case, Pret a Diner is at least in part about an overall experience. I did get the impression that everything was just a little constrained by the venue in this case, despite the DJs at the turntables and the hip artwork.
I can’t eat strawberries so didn’t expect to be able to try the dessert, a buttermilk vacherin with strawberries. But, it turned out that the strawberries are added at the last minute so I didn’t lose out this time.
Coffee and tea arrived with a charming box of sweetmeats…which of course we managed to eat!
This is my third Pret a Diner experience and I have to admit it didn’t have quite the same cachet for me as some of the previous events. I suspect it’s not the perfect venue for a group who like to re-invent and challenge the status quo. Or, it could simply have been that I was tired and dining just a little too late for the perfect experience. We dined as guests of Pret a Diner but, the basic menu would have been £75 per person with an extra £25 for matching wines. Which actually makes this particular dining experience in the glorious surroundings of the Hotel Cafe Royal rather good value.
Now, if you want to go, you just have 24 hours left to book! And I have a feeling they were sold out really quickly. So, why not register on the Pret a Diner mailing list and be the first to know!