I like to think that I'm quite an adventurous foodie and that I'd try anything once, but even I was shaking in my boots a little bit having looked at the menu of Archipelago. Boasting various exotic meats including crocodile, kangaroo, zebra and others, it's definitely not for the faint-hearted. But as I had read a strew of reviews on Zomato singing its praises, and with a generous voucher from Zomato burning my pocket, I knew it was a sign that I should give it a go.
The restaurant looks like somewhere that might offer to give you a palm reading or figure out your life through tarot cards - the place is filled to the brim with eclectic decor and original props. It was a slightly strange atmosphere to be in at lunchtime, but interesting nonetheless.
Now I have to admit from the word go, neither I nor E were particularly adventurous with our choices. It was a Monday lunchtime, there was no dutch courage involved, and we were heading back to work afterwards - simply not the ideal mood or time to be braving kangaroo skewers, let alone bug salads!
Having said that, I did try crocodile and bison so at least that's something...
We started with a couple of their mini slider/hot dog selections, the slider being crocodile and the hot dog a standard pork one. The hot dog was good, but the menu said it had a curried flavour and that didn't really come through. The crocodile kind of tasted like... potato croquette? It was fried, and I'm not sure what else was in there but it wasn't a particularly meaty slider.
Slightly underwhelmed, we carried on to our mains - salmon for E, bison minute steak for me. E liked the salmon, and his side dish of cream potatoes was good but nothing special. My steak was very flavourful which I really enjoyed - the meat itself felt a little dry, but I'm guessing that is the nature of bison meat. The smoked chips were excellent - the smoky flavour is very original and it went well with the steak.
We didn't have a lot of time left, but after seeing the interesting dessert menu we had to give it a try - so, in a bit of a rush, E chose the Pharoah's Treasure and I went for the Mediaeval Hive.
It honestly pains me to write badly about restaurants as I know how much work goes into it all, but these desserts were just... really, really not good. E's soufflé was dry, and it came with a sauce that had bits of black olive in it. I know this place is all about the novelty of exotic cooking and unusual dishes, and in some cases it works, but this was just so strange - maybe it appeals to others, but to us it was literally dry bits of chocolate with pieces of olive. My dessert was marginally better, but the ice cream was almost powdery in texture, I didn't understand the purpose of the butter powder at all (the white sutff), and the only thing that made it slightly better was the salted caramel sauce.
Although the experience wasn't all bad (our mains were pretty good, and the waiter and waitress serving us were so lovely), I feel like we missed out as it clearly has impressed so many others - just look at all the rave reviews! But as with all the reviews I write, it's a completely subjective opinion and there are many who seem to love Archipelago so you might too - Alexandra of Zomato and where2dowhat.com loves it and I know she has great taste in food. I do also think that it's probably a much better place to go to for dinner - it hasn't won Best for Romance & Best Ambience in the OpenTable Awards for nothing!
Out of curiosity, what's the weirdest food you've ever tried?
You can read more details about Archipelago on Zomato.