The Cube by Electrolux, The Royal Festival Hall, London, SE1

With prices as high as its position above the Thames, are you ready to enter The Cube?

The list of restaurants doing well in the teeth of a recession is astounding. At one end, the bright and breezy, cheap-as-chips (but far tastier) street-food-inspired places. At the other, the extraordinarily ritzy places are packing them in, too. For these, reservations are necessary and best made months in advance.

So where does a place that is temporary but very, very expensive fit in? I'm about to find out. The Cube is a pop-up restaurant that has already popped up in Stockholm, Milan and Brussels; it is a concept created by the Electrolux brand to show off its birthday: it has been creating slick kitchens for 90 years.

If all that sounds a bit corporate and dull, it's not. The space, for one thing, is pretty dazzling. Perched above London's Royal Festival Hall, the white box has joyous views out across the Thames. You find it via a fire exit and a windswept walkway. Inside is brilliant white, from the walls to the table to the equipment.

Also dressed in sparkling white is Sat Bains, who's knocking up a few dishes this evening. Electrolux has invited a selection of stellar chefs to cook in rotation, including Tom Kitchin, Claude Bosi and Daniel Clifford. For Londoners, it's a chance to experience Michelin stars from other parts of Britain. For the chefs – well, there are the views, and the bonkersness of cooking in a box.

I've wanted to taste the cooking of Bains for ages but not found a sneaky window to get up to Nottingham. Now here he is, grinning and pressing a glass of NG7 2SA into my hand. Eh?

It's the start of a whirlwind tour of Bains's inventive, eclectic dishes. The menu reveals, by way of different coloured and sized dots, what is salt, sweet, sour, bitter and umami in flavour for the seven courses ahead. And the name of the welcoming cocktail is, of course, the postcode of his own restaurant. It's pretty complex from the off – the glass fizzes with an aftertaste of lovage and lemon balm as the 18 guests take their seats at one long table.

How you feel about paying north of £200 to sit next to a stranger will define your evening. But this is as much fascinating theatre as it is dining out, and my justification (OK, it might be a bit of a stretch) is that on the strength of this, a visit to Nottingham for those of us outside striking distance is to be arranged at speed.

So, hunker munker with affluent foodies, I experience such delights as a horseradish pannacotta topped with wild-garlic soup, the heat of the latter muddling them deliciously. Then scallops seared on one side, with elderflower mayonnaise (nicer than it sounds) and a basil-and-strawberry sauce that teeters on too sweet. It is testament to Bains's skill that it comes off.

A blackened leek purée is a sinister backdrop for a ragu of spring lamb, but blobs of lemon purée elevate it and highlight the flavour of the meltingly soft lamb. More and more arrives but – for brevity – here's a high and a low of the seven courses. A small bowl of Jersey royal potatoes with dashi, pork fat, ham and pickled shallot is, well, nasty. The little spuds are a bit too firm to enjoy, and the fat not quite rendered enough to lose its chew. It's the one plate I don't consider licking clean. But each dish has been accompanied by an excellent wine and the highlight is a Lachamte sparkling sake served with a treacle sponge that tastes like pine-scented paradise and stops everyone in their tracks.

By then I'd been blindsided by a Banbury cake with a hefty slab of Beauvale cheese (a blue from the butter people making their first foray into cheese) and a port syrup, then a dainty chocolate "cake" (more of a ganache) topped with cleansing yoghurt. Notes here descend into "mmmnnnn".

Did we need a top-up of whichever wine we liked best and a home-made raspberry "mivvi"? We did not. But in our cups, in our Cube, this collection of diners wanted the night to go on and on. Bains is still grinning at the end of the marathon and heading, in a neat circle of "what's hot", to the queue-ridden, fast-turnaround burger shrine MeatLiquor.

If you can save up, you're in for something unusual and exemplary at The Cube. It's in London till September and Sat Bains is back later in the run.


Scores: 1-3 stay home and cook, 4 needs help, 5 does the job, 6 flashes of promise, 7 good, 8 special, can't wait to go back, 9-10 as good as it gets

The Cube by Electrolux The Royal Festival Hall, London SE1, tel: 020 7288 6450. Open daily, lunch at 12pm, £175; dinner 7pm, £215 (price includes champagne reception, minimum six-course tasting menu and matched wines)

Sky-high rooms

Ashmolean Dining Room

Beaumont Street, Oxford, tel: 01865 553 823

Overlooking the rooftops of Oxford, you can't beat the view from the airy top-floor dining-room of the famous museum

Hall & Woodhouse

1 Old King Street, Bath, tel: 01225 469 259

This spectacular conversion of Bonhams' old auction rooms features a magnificent staircase leading to an always buzzing stunning roof terrace; a good place to meet up, even if the food can be unexciting


Beetham West Tower, Brook Street, Liverpool, tel: 0151 236 5534

The views from this 34th-floor eyrie are fabulous, and the food is excellent; prices, though, can be daft

Reviews extracted from 'Harden's London and UK Restaurant Guides 2012'

Life and Style
love + sex
Life and Style
Tikka Masala has been overtaken by Jalfrezi as the nation's most popular curry
food + drink
A propaganda video shows Isis forces near Tikrit
voicesAdam Walker: The Koran has violent passages, but it also has others that explicitly tells us how to interpret them
Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

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

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Food & Drink

    Recruitment Genius: Product Advisor - Automotive

    £17000 - £23000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Due to the consistent growth of...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Administrator - Automotive

    £18000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ex...

    Recruitment Genius: Renewals Sales Executive - Automotive

    £20000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An opportunity exists for an ou...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor

    £18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Day In a Page

    Syrian conflict is the world's first 'climate change war', say scientists, but it won't be the last one

    Climate change key in Syrian conflict

    And it will trigger more war in future
    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    How I outwitted the Gestapo

    My life as a Jew in wartime Berlin
    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    The nation's favourite animal revealed

    Women like cuddly creatures whilst men like creepy-crawlies
    Is this the way to get young people to vote?

    Getting young people to vote

    From #VOTESELFISH to Bite the Ballot
    Poldark star Heida Reed: 'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'

    Poldark star Heida Reed

    'I don't think a single bodice gets ripped'
    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    The difference between America and Israel? There isn’t one

    Netanyahu knows he can get away with anything in America, says Robert Fisk
    Families clubbing together to build their own affordable accommodation

    Do It Yourself approach to securing a new house

    Community land trusts marking a new trend for taking the initiative away from developers
    Head of WWF UK: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    David Nussbaum: We didn’t send Cameron to the Arctic to see green ideas freeze

    The head of WWF UK remains sanguine despite the Government’s failure to live up to its pledges on the environment
    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Author Kazuo Ishiguro on being inspired by shoot-outs and samurai

    Set in a mythologised 5th-century Britain, ‘The Buried Giant’ is a strange beast
    With money, corruption and drugs, this monk fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’

    Money, corruption and drugs

    The monk who fears Buddhism in Thailand is a ‘poisoned fruit’
    America's first slavery museum established at Django Unchained plantation - 150 years after slavery outlawed

    150 years after it was outlawed...

    ... America's first slavery museum is established in Louisiana
    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    Kelly Clarkson: How I snubbed Simon Cowell and become a Grammy-winning superstar

    The first 'American Idol' winner on how she manages to remain her own woman – Jane Austen fascination and all
    Tony Oursler on exploring our uneasy relationship with technology with his new show

    You won't believe your eyes

    Tony Oursler's new show explores our uneasy relationship with technology. He's one of a growing number of artists with that preoccupation
    Ian Herbert: Peter Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    Moores must go. He should never have been brought back to fail again

    The England coach leaves players to find solutions - which makes you wonder where he adds value, says Ian Herbert
    War with Isis: Fears that the looming battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    The battle for Mosul will unleash 'a million refugees'

    Aid agencies prepare for vast exodus following planned Iraqi offensive against the Isis-held city, reports Patrick Cockburn