Restaurant Review: Cuisson Popdown
Self-proclamation as an “interactive dining experience” with “innovative Michelin-level cuisine” sets expectations high when you attend one of Cuisson’s “popdowns”. Thankfully they deliver on all points and provide a wonderfully enjoyable experience, perfect to take a partner, date or friend.
My date and I arrived unfashionably late and were greeted with a little harmless scowling; they didn’t give us too hard a time. In our defence, the popdown was located in the basement of a closed coffee shop, and we’d walked around in circles for a while before happening upon it. As a result we’d missed the first two courses – a regret I will take to my grave. Seated at one of three communal tables that we shared with four other couples, we began the experience with cultured butter and homemade bread.
The menu itself presents a crisp and concise description of each dish. This is intended so that you, as the guest, are inclined to go up to the chefs’ station and discuss the intricacies of each dish. Speaking with the chefs, learning more about the dishes and understanding the processes involved allows you to appreciate the food all the more.
The communal table setting and friendly, open chefs and staff mean that even the most awkward of silent first dates (featuring coughs to take up time, chats about the weather, staring at the wall behind the co-diner’s head and an inability to maintain eye contact) will be made to feel comfortable.
The food was stunning; the bread and butter opening was followed by buttermilk, yoghurt and cucumber, and carrot, turmeric and mustard with goat’s cheese. Each dish was prepared using fresh, seasonal ingredients. The menu included seven dishes, à la carte style, delivered on slate to maintain the natural theme. Following our starters we enjoyed tomato fondue with pink peppercorn and fermented sausage, then cuttlefish chorizo and romano peppers with ink and pine nuts – perfectly balanced, and just enough to maintain our desire for more. Our group was also treated to octopus with mayo, fried wild rice and paprika – a delicious creation.
The treat of the evening was the main: cured salmon mi-cuit, avocado, red grelot and wakame. The salmon was cooked in a water bath at 40 degrees C for 40 minutes (don’t quote me – I may be slightly wrong), making it fall right off the fork and melt in the mouth – a wonderful achievement seeing as the kitchen was little more than a glorified coffee-shop prep area. The Swedish chef, whose speciality was Asian dishes, proudly waxed lyrical on the dish as my date and I ate, and told us about his background, experiences and passion. The transparency with which everything is delivered and made really highlights the quality of the chefs and the food.
The evening was rounded off with a white chocolate slice, coconut, matcha sponge and olive oil bread – a sweet, texture-laden slice of heaven. Our final surprise was a sorbet for the road, frozen on the table. The whole experience is very cool. Popdowns run on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights; go if you can, as it’s a wonderful way to eat and explore food.