Published on November 4th, 2012 | by Gary Robinson
Restaurant review: Archipelago, 110 Whitfield Street, London
Whilst the Gentlemen’s Luncheon Club is a lot of fun, we’re a food club first and foremost. The whole premise of the club is to experience new tastes and experiences, so it was with an open mind we embraced Archipelago famed for its, ‘unusual and exotic’ dining.
The dining room at Archipelago is full to the brim of pictures, statues, palm trees, peacock feathers, you-name-it. I’m guessing it’s designed this way to create a sense of the ‘exotic’ however I thought it looked more like a student’s bedroom. Thankfully the room was dimly lit as one can only imaging the true state of the place under a 100w Osram light bulb. So we sat at our cheap feeling ‘authentic’ wooden table and kept our open minds.
Archipelago’s menu is food for thought
The menu itself is quite impressive, with names like Serengeti Strut and Natalian Nosh, and the prices are sensible costing c. £10 for a starter and c. £18 for a main. Putting aside the fact we needed to Google a couple of the items on the menu (apparently a Gnu is a type of bison), I couldn’t help wondering where all this meat had come from and how it had been stored on its journey to our plates.
Undeterred we soldiered on. For starters the highlights were the crocodile fillet with a plum dipping sauce. And the Nepalese spice Zebra. Both were passed around the table although we could have been eating anything in all honesty. For mains we opted for Gnu, frogs legs and Berbere spiced bison steak which were all very meaty and flavoursome although the size of the dishes varied considerably leaving for some mild disgruntlement.
As a side we all opted for the famous love-bug salad that is where my patience eventually snapped. Let me explain; the love bug salad is a handful of lettuce leaves (undressed) with deep fried grasshoppers. It pushed the boundaries of ‘experiential’ firmly into the realm of rip-off, which is what I was left thinking about the whole experience.
There are lots of wonderfully exotic sounding dishes on the menu, but they’re inconsistent and the reality rarely matches the grand description. Added to the fact the whole place is very dingy, I couldn’t wait to get out and get some fresh air.
110 Whitfield Street
020 7383 3346
Nearest tube: Warren Street
We spent: £45 p.p
Summary: The patchy food and dingy dining room meant I couldn’t wait to get out of the place.