Back to Skool

13th Dec, 2016

Vowels. They’re quite useful. I mean, where would we be without them? Up SHT CRK without a PDDL, that’s where.

There is a figure bandied around that twenty-five million pounds has been spent on DSTRKT – a grand two fingered salute in these straitened times when the global economy is regarded as FCKD.

The wilful vowel drop and cocksure misspelling is an attempt at a kind of NYC chic, the logo also forming the D of the Cyrillic alphabet, hinting at some of the Bulgarian ownership. No vowels. C becomes K. A new type of “kool”.

We’re looking at a behemoth of an operation that encompasses a restaurant and self styled “decadent and chic” club, the operators having form with Nick House of Brompton Brands, who brought us Whisky Mist, Mahiki and the Brompton Club. Their ambition is to be among London’s nightlife “crown jewels”. Joey Essex from The Only Way Is Essex lists it as one of his favourite places because they only let “cool people” in. Target demographic distilled.

Georgi Yanev is the man installed as Executive Chef, most recently at the Bazaar restaurant of José Andrés in Beverly Hills, a pal of Ferran Adrià. This entry on the CV hints at some whizz bang pop kinda cooking. Cheffy, showy, adorned with foam and frills, Andrés offered his own homage to mate Ferran by re-creating the canapé of an olive that is not an olive: liquefied olive essence whose translucent membrane explodes as you pop it into your mouth. We see a glimmer of this kind of playfulness from Georgi with our first mouthful later on.

A gin Martini is ordered but isn’t served teeth janglingly cold enough (the Martini bar has been raised high in London), and we’re not asked our gin weapon of choice. Salted tortilla chips are brought as a nibble. The subterranean room smells damp. An inauspicious opener.

A glass of Ruinart Champagne brings out the posher bar snack, deep fried olives stuffed with spicy pork, with a great Aïoli hopping with lots of garlic – far better, now we’re motoring.

We’re crooned on the sound system by Michael Bublé, his version of ”Always on my Mind”, which turns the stomach a tad. Annie Lennox “Walking on Broken Glass” is next to pipe up. She’s not done though, and struts back onto the speaker with “Why?”. I begin to ask the same question. Appropriate for an All Bar One but not here. Not “decadent”. Not “chic”. It’s a devastating hat-trick of songs which raise the hackles and brings to mind Romford not W1.

Time to eat:


London Fog – A reinvention of a dish called ‘Dragon’s Breath’ at Bazaar, a dehydrated strawberry is brought to the table, dipped in liquid nitrogen, then offered immediately. Smoke billows from your mouth and if you’re lucky, your nostrils too. Woah, and we’re off… (£7)

Blinis with Bulgarian Osietra Caviar – Yeah, it’s a blini, but it’s flattered by still being warm and having a zippy slick of lemon créme fraîche. (£7)

Tuna with Soy Air - The pendulum may well have shifted away from using the term ‘air’ on our fanciest menus, and it will be met with howls of derision by some. Beautiful pieces of rosy red tuna impaled on sticks are peeking out from an unattractive looking spume of soy flavoured foam. A little pretentious, the tuna deserved better. (£10)

Grilled Flatbread Salad, Macadamia nut pesto – A dish that needed no explanation of tricksy cooking techniques, the bread adorned with fresh goat’s cheese, excellent pesto, sweet peppers and tomatoes. (£8.50)

Seared Scottish Scallops – Pumpkin sauce and saffron the other players, these were fine little scallops, their delicate sauce perfectly balanced. (£8.50)

Seared Wild Sea bass – No fireworks, just a well cooked bit of fish. Confit baby fennel, capers and chives. (£14)

Halibut poached in olive oil, vanilla potato espuma – An ambitious combination of flavours, we’re not convinced on this showing that vanilla is chuffed to be cavorting with potatoes, but this is another riff on an Adrià dish at El Bulli, so who are we to question the master of experimentation? Some of that weird black garlic in the mix too. (£15)

Devon Crab Cakes - Two pucks of sweet crabmeat, crisped in all the right places and lifted by a refreshing yoghurt and dill sauce. Looks cute, eats cute. (£12)

Scottish Rib-eye - A fine piece of beef is seasoned right to the point, sea-salted to perfection. Bold seasoning. (£18)

Lamb Cutlets – We reckon the lamb cutlets at Roka are the dog’s cahoonas, and these aren’t a million miles off. Cooked to juicy pinkness, with a smoky aubergine and piquillo pepper purée. (£10)

Wild Mushrooms with 63c Egg – Most surprising dish of the night, a modest looking collection of wild mushrooms and herbs arrives in a cocotte, the egg stirred into the mix. Cooked sous vide at the magical 63c, both yolk and white achieve a compelling rich texture. Mint does the magic and lifts everything. (£8)



There’s a showy glass cabinet displaying some iconic wines and throwing Moves Like Jagger all around as you enter the bar. They make a big play on the fact they stock the world’s most expensive rosé from Château d’Esclans (£277), but you’d be better off wading into a bottle of Kung Fu Riesling (£44) from the quirky American winemaker Charles Smith, or The Velvet Devil Merlot (£44) from the same chap. There’s a clanger of a typo on the Château Lafite-Rothschild 1983 placing it at £200. It’s an £800-1000 bottle of wine from a wine merchant, so worth dropping two hundred notes to drink a wine you may never taste again. You may get away with it. Or maybe not. A wine list that needs to be kept in check by choosing from Argentina, Chile or the South of France, and you’ll stay under £35 a bottle.

The club next door entertains packs of braying bankers spraying cash on large format Champagnes, ice buckets set up to receive magnums of Grey Goose, just as you’ll find at Whisky Mist. You might see David Guetta play here. This is where the real cash will be made. A Methusalem (six litres) of Armand de Brignac, is on the bar list and favoured by Jay-Z. £28,000. Bling.

DSTRKT is a club at heart and this is where the real cash will be made, and while some of the food is VRY GD, the idea of dining next to Joey Essex is pretty SHCKNG.

Copyright Bitten&Written 2016 ©

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