R&B host whisky and dessert tasting at Basement Sate in Soho
Not to be outdone by the glut of dessert cafés springing up across London at roughly the same rate as the dental cavities they are creating, Basement Sate adds its own touch to this emerging scene by providing a doubly decadent offering of sweet treats and expertly made cocktails. Started by two friends who wanted to provide “…an indulgent journey of discovery”, Basement Sate may well be onto a good thing here, provided they can add a little more flavour to their selection of desserts (and perhaps dial down the saccharine PR).
Set in a cosy basement and accessed via a perfectly unassuming doorway in the middle of Soho, Basement Sate is a warmly stylish venue. Bare brick walls, wood-panelled booths and leather upholstery that wouldn’t be out of place in a regency mansion are a world removed from the constant press of Soho on a busy evening. Coupled with a sumptuous selection of cocktails and desserts, Basement Sate is a fine retreat for those looking to escape the street-level hustle and bustle.
Alongside their regular fare, the crew at Sate also hold regular tasting events and it was a team-up with new whisky outfit R&B, held to celebrate World Whisky Day (Saturday May 21st), that we were recently treated to. On arrival, friendly staff directed us to a free sofa (nothing so formal as dining tables and chairs here) and doled out deliciously sweet Whisky Kimbu cocktails. Served in coupe glasses, with a garnish of candied lime, the combination of earthy Raasay single malt and sweet mint syrup was a great balance of sweetness and alcoholic kick.
As we settled in, sipping contentedly on the remainder of our welcome drink, R&B’s founder Alasdair Day and Basement Sate’s head chef gave us a quick rundown on what to expect from our evening; a sample of R&B’s new whiskies paired with specially created desserts.
First on the list came a generous slug of Borders grain whisky, paired with a Hazelnut and Cherry Sphere. The whisky was excellent – lightly golden with a powerful smoky aroma. It’s short, sharp bite also worked well with the heavier, richer flavours of the dessert. The dessert itself however was unfortunately underwhelming. Although presented beautifully and supported by a tasty kick from the cherry ganache, the chocolate sphere itself and the brownie it was served on were sadly uninspiring. Considering that Paul Young, a fantastic chocolatier, has set up shop two doors down, Basement Sate need to up their game on the chocolate front.
Sometime after this, our second dram and accompanying sweet treat arrived in the form of a Raasay single malt served alongside a fantastically flavoursome Mint and Yuzu Panna Cotta with Lavender Toffee and Yuzu Marshmallow. This was another strong pairing, with the whisky’s warm, earthy flavours excellently contrasting the refreshing citrus and mint hit of the panna cotta. Also of note here was the lavender toffee that, although surprising, worked brilliantly as an accent to the rest of the dessert.
We then expected another dessert to complement R&B’s flagship whisky, The Tweeddale, so it came as a surprise to find out that the panna cotta had marked the end of our tasting session. Although we were able to try a small glass of Tweeddale, which was complex, rich and wonderfully smooth, it didn’t diminish the fact that the evening’s content had been a little sparse.
Basement Sate is undoubtedly a trendy little venue, tucked away in central Soho and offering a number of easily quaffable cocktails and spirits that outshine a slightly inconsistent dessert offering. But if the Basement Sate team can raise the overall quality of their desserts to match that of the excellent panna cotta that we tried, they are certainly a solid choice for the start of an evening or, perhaps, a decadent post-theatre treat.
To book a table at Basement Sate, 8 Broadwick Street London W1F 8HN, call 020 7287 3412 or visit here.