Despite being a firm believer in having a separate stomach for mains and desserts, I’ll admit I was apprehensive as I approached Beehive Place for a five-course dinner. Never before had I faced a multi-course meal of such proportions, and visions of being carried out on a stretcher with a bulbous stomach or airlifted to the nearest hospital tormented my appetite. Or worse: I pictured dishes so microscopic they had to be eaten with a magnifying glass and cocktail stick. Would I be stuffed or starved?
Luckily, neither was the case. I was swiftly seated and before I had time to even fully imagine a Heston-esque laboratory of bubbling Blumenthal potions behind the Beehive Place kitchen door, it opened. The first dish had arrived – ‘Isle of Man’ crab, radish, baby gem and wild fennel tops. I timidly nibbled the baby gem, waiting for a puff of smoke and a cackling chef to appear. But they never did, and the only explosion to speak of was the flavour; the sweep of fennel foliage was sweet and aromatic, bringing the other ingredients to life. This was quickly followed by ‘New Laithe Farm’ lamb, nettle, broad beans and foraged sweet cicely, with meat so tender that a baby could eat and excrete it without batting an eyelid. This was no slap-up supper club.
Throughout the evening, the food was artfully presented and carefully constructed. From bull’s blood to buttermilk, each of the five courses experimented with ingredients unfamiliar to myself and my fridge. Even regular vegetables were vastly improved – the elegant spears of asparagus were far finer than the tough old buds I cook at home. Beehive Place’s scrupulous sourcing of ingredients and mantra of serving food ‘with passion, not pretension’ was evident with every bite. The informal setting – a converted hayloft in Brixton with communal wooden tables and not a hint of white linen – was evocative of a casual meal round a friend’s house, despite a menu packed with fine dining delights.
Not to discredit Beehive Place’s chefs, but perhaps the best part of the evening was my noticeable lack of food envy. Since everyone was served the same five courses (bar a few vegetarians who were adequately catered for) everyone dined on the same food, leaving no room for my usual indecision and attack of FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out). I left absolutely satisfied, but not satiated. Would I return? Definitely.
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