SquareMeal Review of
Only open to the public on the last Friday and Saturday of every month
‘Multisensory dining’. ‘Gastrophysics’. ‘Bouba and kiki’. A new vocabulary is brought to foodies by chef Jozef Youssef (ex-Hélène Darroze) – in collaboration with Oxford University’s Charles Spence, a professor of experimental psychology. Tucked away off a sleepy suburban street in Barnet, Youssef is cooking up a culinary storm with his experimental marriage of science, art, mythology and food. Book ahead, as Kitchen Theory is only open to the public on the last weekend of each month, and prepare to enjoy an entire evening of discovery. To begin, a tab of paper on the tongue determines whether or not you’re a ‘supertaster’. Next, at the kitchen-side table, Jozef introduces each of the 13 courses, with a story, an explanation, scientific fact, or a sensory experiment to conduct while you eat. The food is peppered with unusual flavours and unlikely partnerships: think oyster sorbet, or Parmesan mushroom sponge with liquorice and ice cream of fermented rice. Is the jellyfish tastier accompanied by similarly ‘crunchy’ music through headphones? Surprisingly, a ball of spiced goats’ cheese seems softer, richer and more rounded when the diner is caressing velvet; sour and sharp when it’s Velcro. A Spritz of bosky loam enlivens the umami-focused dish of fungi, shallot and pumpernickel. But this is more than just theatrics. The food, although sometimes challenging, is extremely good and the experience a real eye-opener. Well worth a Barnet excursion.