We found ourselves on the Strand last week and, in want of a bit of culture, decided to pop in to Somerset House to check out elBulli: Ferran Adrià and The Art of Food. It was an intriguing proposition – an exhibition about an extinct restaurant. What secrets would they expose about the (once) best restaurant in the world, and what else was there to know about Adrià himself? He’s a bit better than Heston but not quite as good as René Redzepi, right?
The exhibition is split into two sections: a history of the restaurant and its staff (dating back 50 years or so), followed by an in-depth focus on the evolution of the food itself, from rustic to ‘molecular’. Adrià has said of the show that “For some, I hope it will revive good memories, and for others it will give a flavour of a fine dining experience like no other.” And no doubt it will bring fabulous flashbacks for those lucky sods who got their acts together in time to visit during the heyday, and will certainly inform those keen to see backstage (plasticine models used for quality control anyone?).
However, we left feeling a little flat and, most tellingly, not even hungry. There was just no sense of what it might be like to go there with friends, and surely that is at the heart of what makes a truly great restaurant.
Cost of exhibition:
£10 (£8 concessions), £5 on Mondays (excluding Bank Holidays)
6 out of 10 – Thrilling for Adria fans, mildly interesting for the rest of us
5 out of 10 – A bit steep for the experience
5 out of 10
Summary in seven:
Spend your cash on food with friends
Embankment Galleries West, South Wing
5 July–29 September 2013
Daily 10.00-18.00 (last entry 17.15)
*Until 21.00 Thursdays & Friday 27 Sept (last entry 20.15) except 26 Sept