Archipelago

53 Cleveland Street , London, W1T 4JJ

  • Archipelago
  • Archipelago

SquareMeal Review of Archipelago

It may have upped sticks and moved round the corner from its original premises, but Archipelago is still a must-visit for intrepid gastro-backpackers – especially as the relocation has prompted a new menu with the emphasis on gluten-free dishes and home-curing. Jump in at the deep end by ordering chilli-smoked python carpaccio with green tea and wasabi crackers or crocodile wrapped in vine leaves with honey-poached plums and pickled samphire, teamed with a love-bug salad straight out of I’m a Celebrity. However, if your tastes are more Bridget than Indiana Jones, the menu also obliges with jerk seafood, Malay-spiced confit duck and other safe bets. Meanwhile, busy bees should check out the new express-lunch menu with its roster of zany sliders, mini dogs and sharing platters. The decor is as before – a kooky anthropological riot of global artefacts and bizarre curios that would do Pitt Rivers proud.

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7.8

Food & Drink: 7.8

Service: 7.5

Atmosphere: 7.5

Value: 7.3

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Harriet R. 02 September 2011

I was expecting Archipelgo to be super gimmicky and possibly a bit naff, but I'd heard good reviews so was curious. I was treated to a meal there this week and was blown away by it all. It was smaller and cosier than I expected – the decor was higgledypigged and eclectic but not in a LOOK AT ME way. The service was lovely – really attentive but without being obsequious (sp!?) or annoying. Both staff gave good advice and gave it with a sense of humour (you probably need to when you're serving kangaroo and zebra!). I genuinely wasn't expecting the food to be that good – I was expecting it to be more about 'oh look, I'm eating something unusual' but actually it was really delicious. The flavours worked well with each other and the food was really well cooked. I was particularly happy with my kangaroo but tried all my friends' food (I'm a horrible friend, sorry) and there wasn't a duff dish in any of the ones we tried. If I was to go back (and to pay for it myself) I'd probably stick to two courses and one bottle of wine. I'd probably skip the sides – the sides we had were gorgeous, especially the salad with optional bugs BUT the portions for the main meals were generous so were unnecessary, cocktails and a ‘visit from the doctor’. The last was certainly fun – a choice of various unusual drinks – but probably not something I would go for again. All in all – this was the most fun I've had for ages. Obviously the fact that I was being treated to it was a big help, but good food and charming service made the evening into a perfect one. Definitely want to go back!

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Sophie A. silver reviewer 13 July 2011

Archipeligo is hidden away and quiet. A small restaurant with interesting decor… it looks like the cluttered attic of an explorer's souveniers. It still manages to retain some charming allure, which the staff definitely add to with their helpful attitude as you begin your journey into the foodie unknown… The food was definitely interesting, and if you are up for pushing your limits on taste-testing, then this is the place to go. I tried the crocodile, wildebeest and zebra. All very good, although I am not convinced that this was the best possible dish I could have containing these ingredients. The table next to us was sampling the ‘Lovebug Salad’ containing locusts and all sorts of insects – brave choice! I wouldnt recommend this as a firm favourite, but for something out of the ordinary, this is perfect. Got to love Londoners for keeping this venue going, it is something be able to boast for a city! This restaurant would probably be good for a first date (lots of discussion topics!) or a group of friends looking for some adventure (although large groups would struggle to be seated). Overall a pleasant fun experience.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 4.0

Richard E. platinum reviewer 18 May 2011

You really do not want to go here with a hangover. The assault on the eyes would drive you hurtling down the narrow, barely lit, health and safety defying, spiral staircase to the loos. Only for the senses once again to be overwhelmed by weaver birds’ nests, frogs and wooden statues of naked pygmies surrounding the porcelain. Yes, the place is decorated in what might be termed an idiosyncratic manner. Very idiosyncratic. If the Indonesian masks next to the fairy lights posing as flowers don’t get you, the Korean Karaoke-like renditions of Beetles hits will. The food too could be described as challenging. Think crickets and love bugs, crunchy in a green salad. Think kangaroo spiced with “21 spices from Yemen”, that well known home of Skippy and his fellow marsupials. Think a gnu stroganoff. Think zebra. It isn’t all odd for oddness sake: the wine list (housed in what might have been a canopic jar) has a 1961 Petrus (at nearly eight grand) sitting next nothing else that gets past a ton. OK, that is odd. But there is a main course of spiced Mexican belly pork. It comes in a Tom Yum broth. OK, that is odd too. In fact, what am I talking about; it is all odd. Many years ago I went to a restaurant in Nairobi that served barbecue skewers, churrasco like, of antelope, zebra, giraffe etc. Alongside this, it had similar skewers of lamb and beef. Having tried them all, it is easy to see why we eat far more lamb and beef in this country than zebra. So go and try kangaroo and crocodile, they will no doubt be the best of their kind that you will try in this country. Thereafter, stick to lamb and beef, which just taste better.

Food & Drink: 3.0

Service: 3.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 3.0

Jayne W. bronze reviewer 05 May 2009

Archipelago is a very interesting venue. Quite an out of the way location, a bit of a walk from the bustle of Charlotte Street. The decor looks like a complete jumble of strange mismatched items, but seems to work without just appearing like it needs an overhaul by the House Doctor. A bonus point for the decor – if you've run out of topics of conversation with your dinner partner, there's plenty of stuff around to either look at or comment on. I quite liked the presentation of the menu and wine list (rolled up in cases), especially that the menu was left on the table for the night. Always good to be able to refer back to in case you've forgotten what you ordered. The menu is certainly not something you come across every day, what with zebra, gnu, crocodile etc. I tried the zebra and my husband had the gnu stew. Both were very tasty, however we both agreed that it really could have been beef and neither of us would have been any the wiser ! Good wine list, with quite a few cheaper bottles, however a G&T at £8 I think is a little steep. All in all, we had an enjoyable meal, and I would recommend Archipelago, especially for a group, as there are both vegetarian and “normal” options on the menu, apart from the exotic zoo. Tip: do ask about the toilets, there is no sign on them to distinguish male/ female, just a drape of material in different colours.

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