Published on June 22nd, 2015 | by Ben Southwood0
Cuisson Pop Down, Piccadilly
I puzzled over all of the press info for Cuisson’s ‘Pop-Down’, trying to work out what made this a ‘pop-down’ as opposed to a ‘pop-up’. It seemed to be roughly the same as any other pop-up supperclub: only running for a couple of months; room not usually used for restauranting; only about 25 covers; limited kitchen apparatus; couple of chefs with strong experience fresh off other jobs. Eventually I discovered that the reason was simply that Cuisson’s Pop-Down is downstairs in Borough Barista coffee shop on Charles II Street (inbetween Pall Mall and Piccadilly).
The ‘concept’ at Pop-Down is interactivity. In theory, you are supposed to go up and ‘help’ them plate up your food, or even wield the blowtorch to some of your vegetables. I didn’t get up and do so because although everyone was extremely nice and encouraging about it, I cannot imagine a world in which us doing so would not be extremely annoying for the chefs, not to mention unhygienic. And realistically customers are going to slow the process down rather than speed it up. I really don’t object to the idea—I’m always up for a new gimmick—but I don’t think this comes off.
Outside of this twist, the experience was quite normal. It’s a bit strange to count bread as an individual course—although the cultured butter was worth talking about with a deep, powerful umami flavour. And it’s worth nothing that everything comes (intentionally) cold, but everyone was friendly and efficient. The chef especially was a very nice guy, and took time in between serving courses to explain the food to guests, a touch that I always find adds to the experience.
Overall I have to say that I wasn’t a big fan of the dishes. My guest suggested that all of the dishes tended to meld together into a beige-ish, bland taste. This was a bit unexpected—maybe I didn’t ‘get it’—since those crafting the food clearly had a pedigree. Best was the bread and the first course, which was pieces of densely soft cold potato. These potatoes were black due to a burnt hay coating; I can’t say that this coating imparted any flavour but it was certainly cool to look at. They had first dehydrated and then deep-fried the potato skin and this tasted like potato skin concentrated to 100x strength, with a surprising (apparent) complete lack of fat from the deep-frying.
The other courses weren’t as impressive though. Chicken parfait was clearly from a proper bird, with a much milder offal taste than, for example, the packs you can pick up in Tesco. It came very cold, giving it a feel of something like savoury chicken ice cream, and it was a hefty lump, with (to my mind) insufficient crackers and fruit to balance out the poultry.
The final course should have been the best: slow-cooked salmon with its own dehydrated and deep-fried skin. The textures of both were very satisfying: the fish solid and extremely tender; the skin drier than the Atacama and super-crunchy. But somehow the dish was just heavy and cloying and somehow tiring to eat. The dessert: mousse with berries, was simply that.
I want to like every place I go, but unfortunately there’s something about Cuisson that just doesn’t come off for me.
The Cuisson Pop Down is open Thursday to Saturday evenings priced £38.50 per person excluding drinks
Cuisson Pop Down @ Borough Barista, Charles II Street, SW1Y 4RWShare This Post