A review of The Dressing Room’s 6 course salad popup where every ingredient knows its part to play and you’re in charge of the sauces.
With the recent ‘revelation’ that we should in fact, be eating at least 7 portions of fruit and veg per day instead of 5 (yes, I’m being sarcastic here – OF COURSE WE SHOULD BE EATING MORE FRUIT & VEG. we should, in fact, be stuffing our little faces with it instead of chips, bacon and pizza), The Dressing Room’s London popup couldn’t have been more perfectly timed.
Unfortunately, the word ‘salad’ brings to mind two things – the anaemic, sad-looking trays that I often peer at in high street chains and feel sorry for and the salad my boyfriend makes at home. Now don’t get me wrong, there’s nothing wrong with his salads, they’re just… always the same.
So when The Dressing Room announced it was doing a popup that consisted of 6 salad courses, I was intrigued. After all, how can you make salads exciting? The answer? Bring in a Moro chef.
I arrived at the venue, Palm 2, a fashionable 10 minutes late. The place was already packed and buzzing, with two gaping holes for the latecomers – myself and the boyfriend. He was 5 minutes behind me. I sidled onto my bench and joined my group.
Palm 2 appears to have several floors – the ground floor looks like a shop (I didn’t have time to explore), yet upstairs, with a view over Clapton Pond is a shabby chic restaurant and cookery space adorned with flowers in jars, lanterns, mismatching lampshades and worn wooden benches. With the fading sun and flickering candles combined with a growing excitement, it felt like a festival.
Whilst I could fill several screens with descriptions of each of the dishes, I’m not going to. I’m going to mention one. Okay, two.
The first is the scallop and duck starter with the Earl Grey dressing. Imagine melt-in-the-mouth morsels of scallop, combined with crispy flecks of duck skillfully tossed together with hearty hazelnut chunks, coriander and tart blood orange. Best thing? The dressing is poured on (yes, your scallop and duck swims about in it) from a teapot. And that brings me onto another point. For those who are absolutely outraged when your salad turns up drenched in dressing, this is an experience MADE FOR YOU. For all the dressings, aside from the first, are served separately, thus allowing you to ‘dress’ your salad as you wish. Not so keen on horseradish? Not a problem – the horseradish cream doesn’t even have to touch your plate. As if that weren’t enough, The Dressing Room treats the application of dressing as an art form – each dressing turns up on your table in a different vessel.
The second salad I’ll mention is the duck breast salad; juicy morsels of tender fleshy duck is served up with beetroot, teeny carrots and ‘bitter leaves’. I’ve no idea what ‘bitter leaves’ are but whoever came up with the idea of crisping up some of the leaves and sprinkling it with cinnamon and sugar – you are a genius. Adding kick to the salad is horseradish cream. If you’re not that way inclined, there’s a thick and strong walnut sauce. It was a testament to the chef that at our table, there was silence as everyone focused on the flavours and textures, trying out different combinations and exploring the varied tastes.
“I have never experienced so many different flavours in one meal.”
~ Stephanie Marent, South African scallywag who laughs like Mutley.
There’s a nice touch at the end of the night too. As well as enjoying the feeling of being full of locally-sourced fresh and healthy ingredients The Dressing Room gives something back to the community. As we were leaving, we were handed a note telling us that by eating tonight we had enabled The Dressing Room to feed a further 50 people. All the vegetable trimmings and leftover duck was going to be turned into duck soup for The Urban Kitchen Project which feeds those in need.
But the best thing about the night? The boyfriend’s words, “I’m going to try some of these at home.” Guys, send me your recipes!
There are four masterminds of The Dressing Room: Tom Sarafian the Moro chef and co-founders, Patrick who covers Operations and Concepts, Alexandra who manages the Marketing and PR and Elise who is Front of House and in charge of wine.
Want to know when the next event is happening? Keep an eye on The Dressing Room and act fast – tickets sell out quickly.
Those with dietary requirements such as gluten-free, dairy-free, vegan etc are well-accommodated. The staff were more than happy to swap in ingredients as required.
Insider info: There’s rumours of another event in May.