What's better than food science?
Food made with science.
Molecular gastronomy was an "in" thing thanks to Heston and the Catalan restuarant (sadly closed) El Bulli. Now, I think it's steadily becoming an "out" thing as we turn our attentions to more frugal food, sustainable modes of eating and good old fashioned cookery. You know, like your mum makes.
But because living in London is a little like living in the future, and sometimes a good trend is worth keeping we don't have to entirely wave goodbye to the awesome fusion of science, technology and things to eat and drink. Now, obviously you could buy some NASA space food to eat at the Science Museum, or get tea after seeing an exhibiton at the Wellcome Collection if you wanted to be inspired by science whilst eating, but we can do better than that in the Capital.
Here's my quick rundown on some places to eat and drink in London where you can feel comfortable wearing a lab coat.*
Notes, Music, Coffee
Head to the St Martin's Lane joint and pop yourself in front of the fresh-faced barristas at the Brew Bar and order whatever they recommend from the specials. Here, coffee is giving the science twist with each different bean prepared in the best way to showcase its flavour. Now, watch and wait whilst beans are measured and all kinds of glassware rarely seen outside of CSI is used to prepare the black stuff. My personal favourite is the siphon coffee (click here for an extensive explanation) or just go, watch and be amazed.
If that's not quite science enough for you, then Bubbleology is the one for you. Looking like a set from an 1980s kids TV show about Science!** and staffed with even trendier, even fresher-faced looking people who are wearing lab coats and preparing the drinks. If you haven't had Bubble Tea before you need to experience it here. It comes hot or cold, milky or fruit based and has jelly-like tapioca in the bottom that you suck up through an extra large, multicoloured straw. Like drinking alien eggs. It's acvtually very tasty, once you've gotten over the surprise of the whole thing. I recommend hot ginger for those rainy London "summer" days. Perch on a stool and read the fun facts about science on the blackboard walls whilst you people watch.
Less like science, more like Sci Fi. The entire teeny, tiny frozen yoghurt place is decked out in all the rainbow colours of neon kawaii decor which has crash landed from Planet Pop via classic Star Trek, Neo-Tokyo and a series of increasingly fluffy rave parties. I'd strongly recommend avoiding if you have a hangover (go to the coffee bar instead). Or epilepsy. But for the rest of you, do go in and order a Snog Special from the even more fresh-faced, even trendier (yes, there seems to be a theme) in whatever flavour frozen yoghurt and sprinklings of toppings. Feel virtuous because although it tastes amazing, it's yoghurt and therefore giving you some kind of health related superpower.
Chin Chin Labs
For those who say "pah!" to frozen yoghurt and want the real deal there's Chin Chin Labs over in Camden, home to the extraordinary sensation that is liquid nitrogen ice-cream. That's right. Liquid. Nitrogen. Ice. Cream. Possibly the pinnacle of Science Food, if you ask me. The principle is that the faster you can freeze ice-cream, the smaller the ice crystals and the smoother the product. So what you get here is akin to a very, very cold mousse, but that's the best analogy I can give you. It's liquid nitrogen ice-cream. There are clouds escaping from machines and serious looking (fresh-faced, trendy) staff members making something special, just for you.
And finally, with all those drinks and frozen sweet things you might be in the mood for something savoury. Inamo have a cool ordering system where you select what you want from the projections on the screens which are part of your table. I always think of sushi as future food anyway, and this confirms my suspicions. Just don't go too button happy!
* Disclaimer 1 - I cannot be held responsible for anything awkward that occurs if you actually do this.
** The exclamation point is important. Seriously
Author: Sarah Cook