My buddy Farhad provides a necessary function at this week’s restaurant because the wonderful, charming and gifted New Zealander Chantelle Nicholson, who used to run operations for Marcus Wareing, and whose gaff we are at, has me seething, huffing and puffing the moment we’re sat down.
This is Apricity in the northern reaches of Mayfair and, no, I couldn’t say it either; the secret is to not linger on the ‘a’. Think electricity, as opposed to après-ski, and you’ll get there.
As the lovely waitress Beth explained to us (wearing a dress made from recycled Coke cans), the restaurant has sustainability at its core, so there are no menus. That’s right, the moment you sit down you are given a little wooden block with a QR code on it. Out must come your phone, which is exactly what we should NOT be doing when we sit down at the table to dine.
On-screen, the type is small and the wine list is worse, as it’s on long lines so you have to turn your phone horizontally to read it. But the Apricity logo then pops out and gets in the way, so you can’t read it anyway. I would bang my head against the wall but, as this place is sustainable, it’s all bare brick and old plaster so it’s dusty and, having bashed my brains out, I’d have to wash my hair.
So Farhad and Beth (the latter displaying excellent knowledge) read and recite alternate lines of the menu. And I order a scrumptious Thymiopoulos Malagouzia and Assyrtiko bottle of Greek wine to settle my nerves.
After a cracker with a ‘wasted dip’, cool chat for whizzed-up leftovers of indeterminate pulse or vegetable, comes a plate of salad that looks like wilted spinach. In fact, it’s an upturned lettuce appearing as though it fell face-first on to the plate from the top of a tower block.
Beth gives us the back story: hydroponic, vertical farming… London-based farmer… pesticide-free…minimal water…no toxic chemicals…beneficial technology… sustainable ethos for fresh produce grown in urban environments… in the kitchen every leaf is dressed separately…
Did she really say that last bit? I’m still trying to get my head round how to make a dress out of Coke cans. I can’t wait to give the challenge to my kids. ‘It’s time you made yourselves useful,’ I’ll say, as I empty a bag of used cans over the nursery floor. ‘Make me a suit. I’ll be back later to inspect.’
As for the lettuce in front of me, which also has some dollops of miso aioli and cashews on top (the latter gently purged from an eco-bush, perhaps, and rowed here by canoe?) tastes like, er, a decent lettuce with a good dressing and some nuts.
A pretty plate of cured trout doesn’t stain the memory for good or ill, but then arrives a dish of utterly fabulous lamb ribs that signals an ensuing avalanche of food that has punch, panache and flavour. The ribs come as a gently collapsing cohort of half-inch slices, the fat glistening like a siren call to tempt us. I can’t recall if the sheep in question were part of Apricity’s vision for best practice, brought lovingly off the hill by a donkey to a gentle slaughter, but, hell, they taste good.
As does the pork belly with fava beans and sweet, odd-shaped ‘Cornish’ potatoes, a pile of kale covered in fried onions and, finally, a gorgeous, perfectly pitched baked chocolate mousse.
Yes, I applaud Apricity’s aims of planet and purpose. But the fact is a single restaurant in the elite confines of Mayfair won’t stop the rest of the country from eating 3.5 million shite sausages every day.