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Saturday, 8 October 2011

The English Laundrette, pop-up restaurant, Shoreditch

I love to blog anything unconventional and quirky and the English Laundrette certainly fits this category. This pop-up restaurant coincides with the rather posher French Laundrette event currently serving in Harrods under the helm of award-winning chef Thomas Keller.

I was a little disappointed to discover that the venue for the English Laundrette is not actually a vintage laundrette but just an interesting blank space in East London used for suppers, gigs and exhibitions. Even so, the team have done a brilliant job dressing the place up in a suitably kitsch and fun way with washing lines of drying laundry and hilarious moving washing machine projections. Fabulous girls greeted us, rollers in their hair and sporting adorable outfits... we were given incredibly strong Chase Gin punch cocktails to sip on while waiting for the other attendees.

Guests are served nightly a six course dinner with an eccentric menu created with nostalgic references to the 1960s. Dishes such as prawn cocktail and cheese and pineapple are revitalised and given a bizarre, inventive twist. I have to admit, most of the food was a little too odd for me, and there were a few courses I avoided, particularly the strange smelling spiced tomato juice that was up first. Next cheese and pineapple was adapted to goat’s cheese pannacotta (tasted like iffy ice-cream) with a base of pineapple weed jelly, and landcress puree, which made me squirm. The avocado veggie sundae I quite enjoyed, especially the little avocado breadcrumbed croutons... but by this point I was ready for some hot grub.

My wish was soon answered with the extensive Mixed Grill: Roe deer & malt scotch egg, crispy crumbled smoked bath chaps, fried duck egg, black pudding, triple fried chips and the list goes on. My table were rather overwhelmed by this cholesterol fest. Next, English rare-bit, mock caviar and Worcester sauce, basically a jazzed up version of cheese on toast.

The meal was completed with Lily Vanilli’s trolley of vintage delights including a rather dilapidated sherry trifle, which tasted delish but looked a mess. Then lots of little fancies the waitresses brought round on trays: mini bakewell tarts and custard cream cakes.

I can’t say I particularly enjoyed the meal, but I absolutely loved the concept and the idea of this pop-up restaurant, impressed by the passion and drive of its enthusiastic creators.

The English Laundrette is only continuing until 9th October, however the creators hope to bring their pop-up DISCO BISTRO (yes - food and dancing) idea to London next year, so watch this space!

Visit the website here.

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