Food, Experiences and Exhibitions
The concept behind the Baker Street venue Carousel is that no two days are ever the same. They describe their venue as ‘a revolving creative hub’, where you can experience anything from fine dining to life drawing, terrarium making or spoon carving, film screenings, music, comedy, and much more.
The venue features three sections: the Restaurant, Experiences and Exhibitions. I visited the restaurant, curated by resident chef and one of four owners, Ollie Templeton. Ollie runs the restaurant during lunch hours but typically hands it over to an ever-changing line-up of both local and international guest chefs for dinner. A twist on the pop-up restaurant concept. Ollie himself is a rising star in London’s culinary scene and has the privilege of overseeing what each new chef brings to the table. Click here to see what’s on.
Akané Monavon, 14-25 February
Towards the end of February, I had the pleasure of attending the dinner evening by half French half Japanese chef Akané Monavon. It was her second time cooking at Carousel, having returned from an envious culinary trip that took her around the world from Reykjavik to Lima.
The menu of the night, however, took us back to her roots in Burgundy, France, where she plans to open a place of her own. Several of the ingredients were picked from the forests that surround her home, as well as the beautiful bark and moss that the starters were presented on.
Chef Akané treated us to a five course meal that began with snails and venison tartare each on a crisp, as well as a shot of portobello and shiitake dashi (broth). The flavours were fresh, one gamey, the other earthy, and an interesting blend of Japanese and French elements.
It was followed by crab sui-gyoza, served with grilled enoki mushrooms and hijiki seaweed. The presentation was flawless while the mushrooms and hijiki paired well with the gyoza.
The main was duck confit with beans, puffed quinoa and chorizo. The duck was done two ways, a confit leg and tender roast breast. It was moist, delicately covered in a savoury sauce, atop a soft bed of mash, beans and crunchy quinoa.
There was an optional second dessert: pears baked in hay with stilton ‘snow’ and buckwheat bread. An unusual combination that also worked perfectly and possibly the dish that converted me into a stilton fan.
The final dish was a pumpkin and tangerine dessert served with sansho pepper, pine nut crumble and chestnut curd.
Dinners at Carousel take place on two long communal tables. This style of communal dining is quite trendy these days and I find myself eating out like this often. Finally, a turn-around from the past decades-long trend of individualism? And it’s not just restaurants. Co-working spaces and communal residential areas, for example, are all experiencing major growth right now. And it makes me smile.
Other reviewers have commented that dining at Carousel is an effortless experience. The staff are friendly and relaxed, nothing is rushed or forced. I wholeheartedly agree. And it plays a key role in the atmosphere, which was equally welcoming, pleasant and enjoyable. A lovely relaxed space in the heart of London. Perhaps it’s also the creativity, and the work they pull off, all working together and learning from each other, that makes it so beautiful.
Dining at Carousel didn’t feel like I was in London. I could have been anywhere, as French and Italian were spoken to the left and right of me. But still, it carried that London energy, a buzz and excitement over what would be served next. I love not choosing the menu, but rather choosing the chef. A chef visiting to show me the best of their cooking? Sign me up!
More than a restaurant…
At this point, the team at Carousel, owned by four cousins, would probably remind us that Carousel is also about the art exhibitions and experiences. Spoon carving and terrarium making didn’t strike me at first as particular hobbies I’d take up, but actually, the idea of going back to that space and sitting among like-minded people, carving a little spoon from scratch for an hour or two, is exactly my cup of tea. That’s just how us busy Londoners like to relax.