DSTRKT in Soho: A look at the restaurant and club
First impressions count for a lot, and when you enter the bar area at DSTRKT you get a great one. A sommelier greets us and begins describing the wine list in detail. It soon becomes clear, from his passionate diatribe and the starkly lit rack of enticing bottles on display behind him, that DSTRKT caters to some expensive tastes – albeit possibly more in actual expense then quality.
This is a theme that recurs throughout the evening, and indeed after the slightly wondrous encounter at the entrance the veneer begins to wear thin.
The champagne bar and dining area are chic, clean, airy and lit with just the right level of moodiness – a perfect setting for a pre-club aperitif and an à la carte meal. We’re given a choice of three fruit Bellini’s at the bar; Raspberry (eloquent but not astounding), Passion Fruit (over-sweet despite the dry champagne) and Blueberry (avoid at all costs). All come with a prismatic stirrer that’s too long, doesn’t really work and gets in the way a bit.
We’re served with various choices from the all-organic menu, devised and prepared by George Yaneff formerly of the Bazaar in Beverly Hills. The £7 Saute Padron Peppers are a little like jalapeño cream cheese without the spiciness, the sherry vinegar reduction and glazed orange lifting them slightly and giving them tang. Oxtail Sliders next at £9, with apparently crispy chorizo – which struggles and fails to overcome the salty greasiness that dominates – and pink leeks, that provide little more than colour. The miniature buns they’re served in are chewy and sit like rocks in the stomach, a little greenery and perhaps a lighter choice of bread would have helped perk them up.
The Yellow Fin Tuna Cubes with Avocado Mousse and Soy Air priced at £10 are the high point, the Tuna is seared only on the edges and wonderfully soft, pink and juicy. Tuna has a strong flavour, so the avocado provides little more than texture and the soy air is just that – air – it gets left behind on the plate and feels a little subsidiary. They are topped off with a minuscule slice of chilli that compliments the richness of the fish nicely though. Roasted beef is rolled out and looks perfectly cooked (if you like it rare), but when we’re handed a plate it’s tough and lacks flavour, which is a major disappointment. There’s plenty more on offer, including a whole section of the menu dedicated to caviar, but it all seems well wide of the quote on the website that promises to “awe even the most discerning gourmands”.
So, to the separate “club” area. It’s dingy, and while the furniture is elegant and plush the whole room smells like the inside of Mo Farrah’s track shoes. The band playing are excellent, a combo of pleasing Spanish guitar and light percussion that entertains the ears and sets the tone for a low buzz of conversation to build up. This ambient music eventually gives way to standard euro trance club music that’s altogether far too generic. There’s also a chance to try an adult soft drink at the bar here named Zeo, an overpriced (£7 for 330ml) blend of twenty one herbs and spices that’s designed to be a fine alternative to alcohol for the discerning palate. It’s a little like a transparent root beer, but it goes great with Gin.
There’s a huge selection of drinks on offer, which is what you’d expect from a club, but there’s also an extra sting in the tail – the prices, which are a little above reasonable. Beer is around £5 per bottle, wine can be anywhere up to £13 for 175ml (let’s not even get started on the price per bottle, quality and vintage notwithstanding) and spirits can be up to £12 for 50ml, which isn’t even a proper double. The cocktails look to be the best value drinks on the menu, and are many and varied.
DSTRKT is to be recommended to those with money to burn who do not care so much how they spend it. It doesn’t really know what it is or who it’s aimed at, and feels far too profiteering. Everything on offer fails to live up to the promises that the sharp décor and snappily designed website give us, but more importantly it fails to live up to the price. If you find yourself in Piccadilly and you wish to head somewhere distinctly bourgeois, then look no further. Most people would find an infinitely better night out at a slightly reduced cost in nearby Soho or up the road in Leicester Square though.
To book a table at DSTRKT, 9 Rupert Street London W1D 6DG, call 020 7317 9120 or enquire here.