Who doesn’t love a subterranean venue under a British Railway Station? And who doesn’t love an interactive pop-up dining experience? Certainly no one I’ve ever met in my chai-latte drinking, London dining life experience.
So I was delighted to visit POPdown at The Vaults this Christmas.
Created by ‘luxury gastronomy experts’, Cuisson, the concept is to deliver inventive, high-end dining at affordable prices.
As well as getting guests involved in the food prep (nothing too strenuous), the chefs prepare the food in front of you, creating a beautiful display of pleasingly symmetrical plates and an opportunity to find out more about the ingredients and the preparation.
In the true spirit of pop-up dining, The Vaults is your classic distressed warehouse, but deceptively cosy and softly lit. There’s a lovely bar downstairs preparing specially designed cocktails alongside a great soundtrack.
Upstairs, there are communal tables as well as some smaller ones for groups of friends. The Chefs and staff are friendly and engaging, and the personal element shines throughout, making for a great atmosphere.
My culinary highlight had to be the Brussels sprout starter with chestnut mushrooms, Clementine and grains. The flavours are much gentler than you might expect and complemented each other well, set off by the most subtle and pleasing acidity of the Clementine.
This was closely followed by a wonderfully tender salmon with an amazing texture. Delicate flavours with the occasional kick danced around the rest of the plate, including juniper finger lime kohlrabi – a root vegetable with a mild sweet flavour and nasturtium.
I’d spotted some vegetables in huge jars lined up like a science laboratory earlier, which were explained as vegetables fermenting in salt.
These were served with the brisket, and while the vegetables looked colourful, the saltiness was a bit too much for my taste and rather overpowered the brisket.
A chocolate and pear dessert with olive oil worked beautifully: just rich enough to be satisfying, but with the pear offering a welcome lightness to the preceding courses.
All in all, I can heartily recommend the food, which certainly delivers on inventive flavour combinations.
More than this though, POPdown at The Vaults strikes a great balance in delivering the intimate and inventive style of what makes these experiences special, but with no compromise on the professionalism and quality of dining.
Tip: Dinner is served from, 7.30pm, so make sure you allow enough time to enjoy some of the cocktails in the bar downstairs beforehand.
If you enjoyed this review of POPdown at The Vaults, sign up to the Journal here. You may also like to read some of or recent reviews including Sexy Fish in Mayfair, Oldroyd in Islington and Antidote in Soho.
Note: Fiona was invited to try POPdown at The Vaults.