Another trip to The Vaults, this time for the curious sounding An Evening Of Meat, a dance and dinner performance labelled as fiercly femine. A six course dinner accompanied by a dance troupe, to tantalize all your senses.
I was lucky enough to go twice, once for the meat feast, and a second time to try the vegetarian option, so I will describe both dishes for each course. However, there will only be photos of one version.
Even the small room that serves as a bar and waiting area is invitingly decorated with warm lights and feminine wire sculptures, setting the scene for what was to come. It’s the perfect setting while we wait to be called up by booking name and seated in groups in the larger upstairs dining space.
The dining room is dark and sparsely decorated, dancers in individual, elaborate costumes lay ‘sleeping’ on the dark red tables, arranged in a U-shape. Just a few fans hang from the ceiling, no more. This gives the room a somber atmosphere and puts the focus on the dancers.
Shortly after being seated, while the dancers still lie motionless, we are presented with tiny savoury cones filled with chicken liver, or mushroom parfait for the vegetarian option, drizzled with a beetroot glaze and walnut crumb. The chicken liver is slightly on the bitter side with a deliciously strong flavour, while the mushroom parfait is smooth and delicately flavoured. Both go down a treat with everyone in my party, and as the cones are quite tiny, are gone in a heartbeat.
The first starter course follows quickly, as the dancers begin to writhe and stretch on the tables before us, as the music gently sways. This course is probably my favourite of the entire meal, beautiful in its simplicity. Salt potato with yeast beurre noisette, a kind of whipped, salty yeast butter, the meat version adds a strip of crisp pancetta which almost seems like too much salt. The potato and yeast butter combination is absolutely divine though, I want to eat this every day for the rest of my life!
As the music gets stronger, the dancers become more animated, starting to interact with us, without words, as the second starter course arrives. A beautiful carpaccio of seared beef, topped with green beans, kohlrabi and puffed rice, with a light thai dressing. All components work very well together, though I wish the meat was a little more flavourful, being overshadowed by the dressing and green beans.
The vegetarian version substitutes beef for a three-day pickled watermelon, thinly sliced to resemble carpaccio, and packing an unexpected flavour punch. For this dish, the vegetarian version is the absolute winner, with a cured watermelon that’s stretchy and chewy and full of teriyaki flavour, a delight to eat!
As the meal progresses, the dancers start interacting with each other, performing expressive dances about love, trust, aggression, jealousy, lust, and fear. Each dancer seems to have a distinct personality, moving in their own rhythm. It is fascinating and intimate to watch these performances up close with no words spoken and ever changing music to accompany this spectacle.
The next course consists of sweet garden peas with spearmint, which is very subtle but noticable, with germented black garlic mustard and dehydrated feta, that has a similar mouth feel to parmesan chunks. The dish is topped off with either miso glazed aubergine (pictured) or braised mutto shoulder. The shoulder is cooked to such perfection, it melts in the mouth, so succulent and tender. I found the aubergine to be slightly rubbery, with the Miso flavour being almost overbearing compared to the rest of the dish.
The last main course consists of a pairing of red Dahl lentils and herby Puy lentils, both very well flavoured and not too strong in taste, topped with citrus gremolata and either rare breed pig cheek oyster, or daikon radish cooked in orange juice, both of which are very good, though I did prefer the softness and light flavour of the radish to the pig cheek. This dish felt a little heavy for such an extensive meal.
The performances on our tables keep getting more intense, louder, wilder, faster. As the evening progresses, it feels like we are being told a story through these movements and interactions. A story about love, friendship, anger, and jealousy.
Finally we are presented with the last course, dessert, which raises quite a few eyebrows. It is served in an ashtray, with a thick dark chocolate and olive oil ganache base, coconut bacon flakes, as well as sesame ash and vanilla smoked salt. It looks quite off putting at first, but once you try it, you’re hooked!
The subtle flavours of the toppings work so well with the rich ganache. It is a very heavy dessert, but an absolute delight to enjoy and simply delicious.
As our divine meal draws to an end, we are treated to more body performances by the fantastic dance troupe, winding down to a peaceful period before working themselves into an absolute dance frenzy.
Every part of this spectacle was absolutely enjoyable, from the delectable food to the beautiful dances!
As always, I wish interesting non-alcoholic cocktails at reasonable prices were available, but this is a very common struggle at dining events.
Other than that, An Evening Of Meat was a gorgeous experience that I’d love to go back to again and again!