Review – Cuissons Pop-Down – Waterloo, London
You may remember I previously reviewed Cuissons London when their pop-up popped-down in St James’, London. My review for that night can be found here. Their latest reprisal is in the bowels of Waterloo Station. An eclectic location which treats the diner to a quick lesson in street art and atmospheric London on their way to the venue which is found in the arches below the tracks.
Tonight’s menu was different to last time and had 5 courses rather than 7. The cooking style is still fine-dining although the chef that I conversed with last time has moved on to pastures new. Our first course was the same as last time, delicious homemade bread and cultured butter soon to be followed by chargrilled cabbage with chorizo, red pepper and hazelnuts. Chargrilling is proving very popular and turning up on restaurant menus all over London. Most frequently this technique is used for broccoli, cauliflower and other vegetables. I really like the nutty flavour it imparts to accentuate the taste of the good ol’ vege. This was my favourite course of the evening and proved popular with my fellow diners. Like most other pop-ups we sat at communal tables so conversation flowed freely in all directions.
The fish course was Mackerel, lovage, cucumber and daikon. The fish was beautifully cooked and whilst I am not a fan of this particular pelagic fish, it is rich in Omega-3 fatty acids so it was forks in to clear my plate. Chef did a good job of making it tasty and the addition of daikon, a mild radish, gave a satisfying contrast in texture to the soft fish.
The 4th dish was brisket with fermented vegetables and tea. Again, another trend on the foodie front is fermentation or pickling. It can be found everywhere and doesn’t just apply to vegetables anymore, many chefs are also pickling fruits. Tea is also doing the round-robin on menus, in particular matcha tea. The brisket was a good portion size especially for a pop-up menu and the vegetables were tasty albeit rather al dente. The tea broth had a good depth of flavour and warmed through the dish.
Desserts are always a challenge for me. Not having a particularly sweet tooth I always give it a try but my real love lies with the savoury dishes. For our final course we were presented with coconut, pumpkin, walnuts and lavender. The menu doesn’t give much away in the description of the courses so it is usually a surprise when it arrives which I think is pretty much the point. A challenge of flavours and combinations to tantalise taste buds across the board. The dessert course was well balanced and looked pretty on the plate but I must bow down to my fellow diners for their appraisals. They gave it a thumbs up so that’s good enough for me.
Cuisson certainly choose great venues that are easily accessible and so far, situated in central London. The choice of The Vaults at Waterloo is inspired. It’s hip, a bit grungy and gives diners a lot to talk about. Top marks. The menu was diverse in flavour combinations and textures although I preferred the St James’ menu. One thing that this place did have that St James’ didn’t though was a pre-dinner bar. Great for getting to know your fellow diners before going through for dinner. One of the more unusual things about a Cuisson Pop-down is that you, the diner, can get involved too. All the dishes are plated up on a long pass table and if you want to test your culinary mettle you can help with the plating up of each course. I do love getting interactive with my food and makes for some great photo ops should you want to get your camera out.
Cuisson Pop-down at The Vaults, Waterloo is in residency til January 2016 with chef Chavdar Todorov heading the team.