The London popup and supper club scene seems very healthy at the moment, with social media driving people to abandoned shops and living room soirees. There was even a feature on radio 4 this morning (surely a sign of the beginning of the end). Guiltily though, I admit I haven’t been to many. Hence when a friend suggested we go to Dine Mile High for a Sicilian experience I booked my ticket, exchanged some currency and checked my passport hadn’t expired.
OK, it’s actually still in London but the theme is the golden age (bar the frequent crashes) of airline travel, say around the 50′s. We were greeted promptly at 6:30pm at a boarded up place on Regent St of all places, and after some issues with missing doormen and Westminster regulations we were in. Greeted at check-in by 2 airline staff, we were issued our passports plus tickets and taken through to the bar.
There was a short list of 4 crowd-pleasing cocktails, appropriately themed to the location and somewhat to the era. Bottles of Campari and Aperol hinted at the always delicious Negronis and Spritzs on offer, plus a bellini-style Martini and a julep. The night was sponsored by various drinks companies which shaped the menu, however they were all made very well. Included in the £65 ticket were 2 cocktails, canapes, a 4 course dinner, some wine and a disco afterwards. A nice touch was the Campari stamps we were issued in our passport with each Negroni.
Settling into the white leather banquette with my Negroni and in the balmy heat of a muggy June evening the theme was definitely working well. Two stewardesses (1 “Australian”, 1 “Soviet”) popped round with some fried courgette slices and big balls of arancini flecked with a bit of truffle (I think) and cheese. They had a nice bit of banter between them, adding a touch of humour together with the young Italian pilot schmoozing guests. I would guess at a few acting school employees here.
We were some of the first to arrive and so had a good hour and a half or so to settle into some serious pre-dinner cocktails. The arancini helped soak them up though. Then we were called by name to board, and taken through to the dining room, which was nicely dressed in white with long shared tables to sit at. The chef is ex-Moro (Oliver Templeton) and we had a fixed menu of 4 courses in front of us. The starter was a marinated swordfish salad with cinnamon, fennel and pine nuts. It arrived on a pretty small plate which to be honest I thought was dressed a bit scruffily and portion wise was quite small. Maybe I’m being harsh, on the one had it is a pop-up with a big dining room to feed simultaneously, on the other this is at the top end of the scene. It was a solid dish and I finished it, the orange came through nicely with some crunchy fennel. I didn’t really detect the cinnamon and the swordfish texture had gone pappy, perhaps marinated too long in something acidic?
The second course was pasta alla Norma, an addition since part of the team was Tom who has worked at Bocca di Lupo. This was served as a sharing platter between 6 of us. A hearty mix of home-made pasta, tomato and aubergine, it was a very rustic comforting dish. Fortunately it was also cooked to perfection, mixing pasta with a nice bite; a huge rich umami filled tomato sauce and soft aubergine. No complaints here and plenty to go around.
Next up was the main, pork belly, cabbage, beans and Sicilian lemon. Another rustic dish, but cooked very well again. We were served a slice of soft unctuous pork belly meat topped with the all important crisp crackling. A classic side of white beans and cabbage provided a good accompaniment, and a slice of soft bitter lemon offset the fatty rich dish.
Dessert was fairly simple, a burnt peach gelato with pistachio praline and ammerreto biscotto. The gelato had a solid peach flavour and was a nice, refreshing end to the meal. Between 6 of us there were 2 OK bottles of wine included and any more had to be bought. We tried a bottle of the top-end chardonnay as well, the name eludes me. Afterwards the bar turns into a disco with pumping tunes and a lot of dancing.
So overall, a great evening out. The theme and detail was very good, the food was mostly excellent if relatively simple, and you get a decent amount for your £65. And yes I clearly should have taken some photos of the food, apologies.