We planned our weekend in London around our much anticipated trip to the MasterChef popup restaurant on Saturday night. This event was designed to bring together MasterChef champions from the last 10 years, with bespoke menus created by the chefs themselves showcasing their dishes.
We were a table of 3 foodies who paid £65 per person for a 6 course tasting menu. We had read the reviews on MasterChef’s own Facebook and twitter feeds, many of which were less than complimentary. However, we went along with an open mind, not expecting the service that you would get in a regular fine dining restaurant as it was after all, a popup.
The chefs on the night were Mat Follas, James Nathan and Natalie Coleman. Both Mat and James made time to come out and talk to diners during the course of the evening (sadly Natalie was unwell).
Our menu on the night and our subsequent review of each course is as follows:
Rock Pool: Shellfish & edible seaweeds with a shellfish consomme (like falling on the beach and landing face down in a rock pool, no flavour of seafood just an over-riding taste of salt water)
Smoked ham hock & mustard terrine with piccalilli (the ham hock terrine itself was nice, but the entire dish was too dry and it didn’t work, it needed a proper piccalilli to add moisture rather than the pickled cauliflower and carrot we were served)
Pan-fried sea bass with fennel, crab bon bon & sauce vierge (a well cooked piece of fish and the crab bon bon was tasty, however the whole dish was barely warm, made all the worse when the waitress took one our plates away after only a couple of mouthfuls as we were talking to one of the Chefs!)
Textures of pear (mmm, textures ranged from rock hard to pureed baby food)
Damson, rum & elderberry clafoutie with sloe gin sorbet(clafoutie was too soft and did not taste of rum, the sloe gin sorbet was grainy and half melted, we would not have served the sorbet!)
Add to this the fact that the food arrived barely warm, you got the impression that the plates had been sitting, it did not make for an enjoyable dining experience. As far as ambiance is concerned, we agree with with other reviews that the tables were packed in. The waiting staff were clearly new to the game but we would have made allowances for this had the food been up to scratch. However the view of The Shard at night was spectacular.
The highlight of the night for us was meeting the lovely Ping, the 2014 winner of Master Chef, who was also dining at the restaurant herself that night. She very kindly made time to talk and have her photo taken with a number of diners. We would have loved to chat more with this charming woman, but she was out for dinner herself.
Overall it was a big letdown and an experience that none of us will rush to repeat.