Review: The New Spring Tasting Menu at DSTRKT
Published 20 April 2013
Unless you’ve heard of DSTRKT and specifically planned to go there, it is one of those places that you’ll never think of going to while walking down the street. Tucked away on Rupert Street, just off Leicester Square, the entrance is a bit unremarkable, and first impressions is that DSTRKT is just a bar and club.
While it has both, it also has a very fine dining room. The mood and décor of the restaurant is romantic, with dim lighting and light background music – although it does double up as a really modern and swanky place for business entertaining too.
Service is excellent – in fact, probably close to impeccable. My dining partner decided to go alcohol free that evening, and immediately a very tasty non-alcoholic cocktail was concocted to replace the Champagne Royale on the Spring menu. Personally, I would still go for the champagne royale – a very interesting blend of Moet Chandon, crème de cassis, and VSOP – who would have thought the trio would go well together?
The Spring Menu, essentially the restaurant’s tasting menu, is not to be undertaken unless you are hungry, as it’s a mammoth 12 courses. However, the dishes are small plates – tapas style – and with hints of the modernist scientific cooking championed by Ferran Adria and Heston Blumenthal.
From the trio of starters, the oyster was the best – the name doesn’t give much away, but it was a delightfully breaded oyster, deep fried slightly, with a nice crunch on the outside with the oyster just cooked, still retaining its sweetness. Another starter, the yellow fin tuna, came with a brilliant soy “air” – bringing unami to the tuna but without overpowering it with the usual saltiness of soy sauce.
For the second round of starters, the warm asparagus salad was a delightful mixture of green and white asparagus tips. There is the option to add black truffle shavings to your asparagus for £7 – I recommend this, as it does add another dimension of flavour to the dish. The green & white asparagus came with a yogurt emulsion – it was OK, but I think having the sweet yogurt was a bit of a weird combination with the asparagus.
For the seafood course, the outstanding dish was the jersey royals – a mix of jersey royal heritage potatoes, red crab, and crispy peppers. It’s weird seeing potatoes on a high end dining menu – and this is no different. There’s only so much you can do with a potato, and that aspect of the dish felt lacklustre. However, the star of the whole dish was actually the crispy peppers. Grilled to an incredibly crispy chip state and then crumbled and used as a garnish, I couldn’t get enough of it. The crunchiness, and then the hit of sweet pepper rushing to your taste buds – amazing. I’ve never had anything like it before. It could be a dish on its own and win accolades. Makes me wish Tyrells did a packet of red pepper crisps.
Then the meaty mains were up – and by this time – having gone through seven courses already, we were more than halfway full. Luckily, it wasn’t full, English style main courses with giant slabs of meat. Rather, the venison tartare came in a small sushi-like parcel, wrapped with a thin sheet of avocado and with white truffle essence. I liked how the white truffle essence helped to neutralise the very strong flavours of venision, but unfortunately the venison won in the end – this dish could have done with stronger flavours, and I’m not sure if venison tartare is ever a good idea in the first place.
However, the BBQ Gloucester Old Spot pork belly was excellent – a playful take on a traditional American BBQ pork served with seasonal rhubarb slaw and blueberry BBQ sauce. The pork belly was mouth meltingly tender.
It was then a case of making room for dessert! And if there’s one tip I have to give for this Spring Menu at DSTRKT, it is that you absolutely have to leave enough room for dessert. The chocolate & strawberries sounded normal, until you took a forkful of the edible chocolate soil. Halfway between a soft brownie and a mousse, it was an absolute delight. The truffles that came with the dessert was amazing too – a burst of soft liquid chocolate right in the middle. The sorbets of the day that we had were elderflower and prosecco – they looked so white and pure in the bowl, and the flavours were refreshingly simple. Just what you needed at the end of a great meal, with so many flavours and textures that it was the perfect closing.
The Spring Menu showcases a really high calibre of kitchen techniques, and it was a delight to see lots of in-season English ingredients on the menu as well. There were some misses, but overall, it is an inventive menu with some outstanding combinations.
The special Spring tasting menu at DSTRKT:
Moet & Chandon, Crème de Cassis, VSOP
Norfolk baby radishes, Dunsyre blue cheese sphere
Yellow Fin Tuna
Soy air & avocado mousse
Shetland mussels, Escabeche gelee, fresh English peas
Warm asparagus salad
Sand Hutton asparagus, yogurt emulsion (and fresh black truffle for a £7 supplement)
Jersey Royal heritage potatoes, red crab, crispy peppers
Cornwall River wild sea trout, celeriac puree, pickled rhubarb, Dorset watercress
Venison tartare, avodaco sheets, white truffle essence
Welsh spring lamb loin
Lamb pancetta, fava beans, heritage white bean puree
BBQ Gloucester Old Spot pork belly
Wye Valley rhubarb slaw, blueberry BBQ sauce
Chocolate & strawberries
Edible chocolate soil, strawberry mousse
Ice creams and sorbets
Ask your server for today’s selection (we had prosecco sorbet and elderflower sorbet)
DSTRKT Restaurant & Club
Address: DSTRKT London, 9 Rupert St, Leicester Square, London W1D 6DG
Reservations: 020 7317 9120