Samuel Muston: Step away from the Soylent and enjoy the pleasures of real food

We have arrived. We are in the endgame. What looked once like science fiction has become incontrovertible fact – or at least that is what Rob Rhinehart's publicity department would have us believe. The 25-year-old San Francisco-based entrepreneur claims to have spent the past year living almost entirely off a drinkable "food substitute" of his own invention called Soylent, a sort of Ambrosia for millennials, if you will.

The 25-year-old engineering student may live in the Tenderloin area of the Californian city but, as a long profile of him in The New Yorker last week reveals, if he has his way, we soon won't be eating anything so "inefficient" as meat. He has secured investment from "Silicon Valley venture capitalists" and a "blue-chip investment firm" to develop, market and then flog the product to the world. Already, in fact, he has "subscribers" for the drink which, Rhinehart claims, contains all the 35 nutrients we need to survive. Apparently, the taste is "smooth but grainy" and like "watered-down pancake batter". Lucky old subscribers.

At this point, like me, you may have two thoughts. First, Rhinehart sounds as mad as a box of frogs. And, two, why? Although, I can't account for the first, The New Yorker has a pretty good stab at the second. The whole project came about as a means to save money – he had already tried a McDonald's diet and another in which he ate only kale (!) – and also because he considers eating food to be a waste of time and a "hassle".

Although if he had his way, Rhinehart would do for gastronomy what the Evil Queen did for the apple trade, I am willing to accept that he probably does believe he is on the side of the angels. The problem, it seems to me, is that he has been eating in all the wrong places.

Twice this week, in two different restaurants, I thought about the sludge-drinking American. Once in the Typing Room, the new restaurant by 26-year-old wunder-chef Lee Westcott, at the Town Hall Hotel in East London and again, across town, at Angela Hartnett's Cafe Murano. Both are distinct in style, but alike in representing, in some small way, all that I love about food and restaurants and eating out.

Take the Typing Room first. I spent three lovely hours sitting around a table with four pals drinking wines – too many wines, in fact – and working my way through a six-course tasting menu of rare inventiveness and charm. Every little dish (see picture above) – from the courgette and basil profiterole snackette to the delicately cooked pigeon with baked celeriac and hazelnut – was clever and witty. It was as though Westcott were a painter, his plate the canvas and the ingredients his oils. I could have stayed for three more hours and the bill for the food: £55. Top marks.

Cafe Murano is a different kettle of fish entirely. The informal sister restaurant of Michelin-starred Murano, it is everything you want from an Italian restaurant: intimate, jolly, run with precision and style by GM Zoe Charlton-Brown, a place where you order an Aperol spritz and while away the hours treading water in your date's eyes. The food here is traditional Lombardian and features a brace of dishes that are made to Hartnett's mother's recipe. The pasta tastes as if freshly made that day (it is) and someone must have gone the length and breadth of Italy to get that charcuterie. They also do unknowable things with an octopus. Cafe Murano is not trying to reinvent the wheel, what it is doing is making the very best wheel possible.

So get on a flight, Rob, come out for an evening with me, rediscover the joy in food; stop pouring Soylent down your neck – put it down the drain instead.

PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Life and Style
food + drink
Arts and Entertainment
musicBand's first new record for 20 years has some tough acts to follow
Life and Style
Shoppers in Covent Garden, London, celebrate after they were the first to buy the iPhone 6, released yesterday
tech
News
Liam Payne has attacked the media for reporting his tweet of support to Willie Robertson and the subsequent backlash from fans
peopleBut One Direction star insists he is not homophobic
Life and Style
healthFor Pure-O OCD sufferers this is a reality they live in
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvSeries 5 opening episode attracts lowest ratings since drama began
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Manager

    £50 - 60k (DOE): Guru Careers: An Affiliate Marketing Manager / Affiliate Mana...

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments