Smoke and mirrors isn’t always a good thing when it comes to food but in these 10 cases it certainly is. When you want your meal to be an experience complete with dry ice, bubbles and even inject-your-own fillings, you need to check out these cocktail bars, nitrogen ice-cream parlours and even a science-themed afternoon tea. Who said science was boring?
What: Nitro Ice Cream
Why: You pretty much know that when goggles are required to make ice cream there’s a bit more going on than just whipping up some cream and whacking it in the freezer. Chin Chin Labs are pioneers of the science-meets-food phenomenon, making your ice cream to order in front of your very eyes. The liquid nitrogen used results in a much smoother ice-cream, so no crunchy ice crystals just pure, creamy goodness. The flavours change weekly and at the of writing include Valrhona chocolate, burnt butter caramel and a vegan beetroot and chocolate dill cake. Go one step further then wedge it in between two cookies to make an ice cream sandwich. Nifty.
Where: Camden Market and Street Feast Hawker House
What: Science Afternoon Tea
Why: Afternoon tea conjures ideas of civilised enjoyment and relaxation. Science on the other hand generates visions of the periodic table, inconceivable equations and black holes; in essence things that are difficult to get your head round. Combine the two and you get a science-themed afternoon tea complete with a mint and chocolate planet-shaped mousse with spacemen and almond short-bread dinosaur and fossil chocolate box. Fuel up here then see the real deal at the Natural History Museum, just round the corner.
Where: The Ampersand Hotel, 10 Harrington Road, London, SW7 3ER
What: Smokey Whiskey Cocktail
Why: You may not expect the bar of a traditional 5* London hotel to be at the forefront of scientific experimentation but at the recently refurbished Athenaeum when you ask for the whiskey-based cocktail, it is. Brought over to the table in a polythene bag, the bag is unwrapped to reveal a cloud of smoke and a suitably intensely smokey drink. Fitting when you consider The Athenaeum’s famous whisky collection.
Where: 116 Piccadilly, Mayfair, London W1J 7BJ
What: Let Food Be Thy Medicine
Why: Sometimes it does feel like there’s a science behind healthy eating – Rihanna even hooks herself up to a drip when she needs a bit of a health boost (well, Hippocrates did state ‘Let food be thy medicine and medicine be thy food’). Farmacy, Notting Hill’s trendiest health restaurant, doesn’t go quite that far but the Farmaceutical Syringe Shots do look quite intense. Designed to be squirted straight into a glass, pick from the O.M.G., Beautify or for a real hit, the Fire Starter. Not one for the faint hearted, ginger, tumeric, cayenne and lemon will sort your hangover right out.
Where: 74 Westbourne Grove, Notting Hill, W2 5SH
What: DIY Doughnuts
Why: Everyone loves a doughnut but sometimes there’s too much jam/not enough jam/too much custard/not enough custard. Ben’s Canteen have answered all your doughnut worries with the ‘doctor’s DIY doughnuts’; a bowl of empty dough balls and 3 syringes, fully loaded and ready to inject into your dough. Choose from strawberry jam, maple syrup and vanilla custard. Want all 3? Sure (although we’d stick to just one…).
What: Molecular Mixology
Why: The Alchemist adds a bit of flair to the city. Celebrating ‘molecular mixology, alchemy and craftsmanship’, drinks come in unpredictable vessels with all types of foams, flowers, ‘science’ and ‘magic’. If you want the wow factor, we recommend the Lightbulb Moment; Tanqueray gin, Pimms, ginger beer, raspberry, lemon and mint are heated in a small pan before being filled with dry ice whilst the Iceless Mojito comes (a vibrant green) in a chemistry cylinder. Similarly, the Bubble Bath does what it says on the tin although we suspect their version of Fairy Liquid isn’t the same as the stuff by our sinks…
Where: 6 Bevis Marks, City of London, EC3A 7BA
What: Freeze the Seasons
Why: We’re bored of the saying ‘seasonal ingredients’ (surely they should be seasonal anyway) but this is one exception we will make. Four Winters specialise in seasonal nitrogen ice-cream, so you can enjoy the best seasonal ingredients to ‘give you a taste of each season as it changes.’ For Autumn, we’re talking pumpkin harvest, candied sweet potato and s’more whilst the classic flavours are available year-round. Watch your order frozen to -196C right before your eyes. It’s liquid nitrogen magic.
Where: 103 Gloucester Road, South Kensington, SW7 4SZ
What: House-Infused Cocktails with in-House Lab
Why: Barsmith are so interested in creating innovative cocktails that they’ve got their own lab in the head office… Winning Bar of the Year at the 2015 London Club & Bar Awards has spurred them on to bigger and better things, so the lab enables them to think up weird and wonderful libations, including the popular ‘Love is Smoke’; Merlot, Aperol, Campari and infused bourbon & smoked with apple-wood chips.
Where: 18-20 St John Street, Farringdon, EC1M 4AY
What: Blow-torched S'Mores
Why: Fire and ice: surely a winning combination. Man of the moment, Dominique Ansel isn’t all about the Cronut – his frozen s’mores are pretty impressive too. Reminiscent of school chemistry classes, bunsen burner-like blowtorches are used in front of you to perfectly char and caramelise the outside of your frozen marshmallow. Bite into it and the custard centre is revealed. Why wasn’t school more like this?
Where: 17-21 Elizabeth Street, Belgravia/Victoria, SW1W 9RP
What: Art Meets Food Meets Science
Why: If you’ve ever fancied dining in a pharmacy then you’re in luck! Damien Hirst’s Pharmacy 2 is as much a feast for the eyes as it is a feast for the mouth. Mark Hix is behind the food, plating up classic British and European food to art-lovers and tourists so as you tuck into Launceston lamb cutlets or griddled Beesands scallops with chorizo you can marvel at the sea of multicoloured pills which, en mass, manage to be weirdly pretty. Some of Hirst’s iconic art works are also on display including the Medicine Cabinets which appears to merge the boundary of art and interior design.
Where: Newport Street, Vauxhall, SE11 6AJ
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