Over a month ago I visited The Cube for lunch. Well we went back this past weekend. Not because we wanted to eat the same meal all over again (although I wouldn’t say no) but because two chefs alternate and we wanted to see what the other guy, Bart De Pooter of De Pastorale, had to offer.
Right from the start we noticed some small differences in the way the meal was organised, although it wasn’t always clear to me whether that was the chef’s preference or if they’d done some tweaking to the whole presentation following customer feedback. For example we didn’t have to sit through an Electrolux sales pitch while waiting to go upstairs (good). Also while waiting on the terrace admiring the view various canapés were distributed (also good).
De Pooter came outside for a chat, and we learned, among other things, that the website receives 700 requests per day (which makes it all the more amazing that we managed to make a booking on two separate occasions). Also, the menu changes every two weeks, so you even if you get the same chef you won’t necessarily get what I, Emma or Sid got. We also played with the free iPads again. Any photos you take with them are automatically uploaded to the Cube flickr page. Look, there I am.
Once inside and settled down at table the chef came out to introduce the meal. At this point we did get a message from the sponsor, which I don’t think is appropriate once you’re seated and waiting to eat, but it was a lot briefer this time, fortunately. I tried to ignore it and took photos of the bread and crackers.
First course: salmon marinated in syrup with apple and avocado. A good start. Nice and fresh and the fish was slightly chewy and sweet.
Then came hake in smoked milk with spinach. Creamy, tepid and subtle, but bordering on bland. For some reason I forgot to take a photo of this one. No great loss. This was followed by more fish: mackerel and various cucumber “structures”, with a swoosh of chlorophyll. Again a good piece of fish presented without too much fuss.
What surprised me then was that there was no meat course; instead we jumped straight to dessert. Various red fruits and some chocolatey sponge accompanied Earl Grey flavoured mousse and ice cream. The ice cream was lovely and the fruit went well with it, but I felt the sponge just got in the way. It would have been nice if the dessert followed the simplicity philosophy of the fish dishes.
Then a small bowl of milk-based mousses and ice cream. Too milky and a little bland for me.
Then I had a vervaine infusion to accompany the final selection of sweets. These were mostly lovely, and I had far more of them than I should. Even the one topped with celery slices, which was an interesting twist.
De Pooter himself served the final selection of macaroons and chocolate truffles.
And then it was all over. I must say that the meal was a bit of a let down after Sang-Hoon Degeimbre’s notably more innovative and spectacular effort. Too many dishes were pleasant but not outstanding, and while I have as much of a sweet tooth as the next man I don’t think dessert should account for half of the meal. If you get the chance to go, book for one of the days when Sang-Hoon Degeimbre’s in the kitchen.
Have a look at http://simonlitton.wordpress.com/2011/04/13/the-cube/ to check out his first visit.