Disappearing Dining Club
Norse By Norsewest
The pop-up restaurant movement – don't roll your eyes – well, the dust around it's finally settled.
All the rage last summer, the pretentiousness about the whole thing was underlined by the obsessing of self-elected culinary trendsetters of which we all know one (i.e. someone who's watched too much Come Dine With Me for their own good). But time's passed, and to revisit this novel idea now, executed to perfection by Disappearing Dining Club, is to experience delicious, unusual food in displaced locations for the sake of it, rather than to impress your friends or frenemies.
DDC greatest strength – its charmingly ad hoc approach – is perhaps its Achilles' Heel too; it's impossible to know what to expect of an evening with them, and that's thrilling, but if there's a Monica Gellar among your friendship group, warn him or her now. It was only on the day of the meal we received a text informing us of its location (a moodily tarted up cafe in East London; cute and comfortable, it did the job, but it wasn't indicative of the randomness of DDC's usual locations). We needlessly arrived at the instructed time; seasoned pop-up restaurant goers seemed to filter in as and when looking utterly relaxed.
There was no concrete dinner-is-served moment: as such it was quite late into the evening and almost without realising it that we found ourselves half way through of Scandinavian-themed feast, while sharing a table with interesting strangers. Cue everyone Googling the contents of the menu (be honest, do you know what an elk is?) and passing their phones around before progressing to sharing food.
The atmosphere's fun and laid back – depending on who you're sat with that is. Separate tables were available so if you and a friend weren't feeling sociable upon visiting you should hopefully be catered for. But then again meeting new people over a few drinks in a chilled out environment without having to scream over pumping dance music is the nicest part of this kind of experience.
Then the penny-dropping moment: the food's great. Dainty dishes of note included some fantastic deep-friend Arctic cheese with a fascinatingly distinct taste and rubbery texture and the thickness and fullness of flavour of the salmon in the cured salmon dill and horseradish gratin. The crispy anchovies with curried remoulade was the evening's most popular dish; as the kitchen was winding down we put one final request for this one, and the team – all friendly, chatty and good-looking guys, and lets be honest, the latter really helps – happily obliged.
The meticulously thought-out menu of 15 simple tapas-style plates with a few surprises (potted reindeer, anyone?) – with a handful of last minute alterations, naturally – spills from the kitchen haphazardly. Many you see your fellow diners try before you do, as such the dishes' thoughtful presentation is key. Generally you choose one from a selection of five or so brought out at a time (our waiter must have made 30 trips, easily), and you keep going until you've tried everything.
Our only complaint is the lack of desserts. Yes, we were totally full by this point, but the website led us to expect another smörgåsbord of colourful delights, instead all we got was a Rulltarta – a Swedish jelly cake concoction. Lovely, but we were SO looking forward to some fruit after a dinner that was light on vegetables, and the punch and almond custard sounded divine. Maybe next time.
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