- Food & Drink
Last Sunday Ma and Pa Gin and Crumpets came to London for their irregular trip to the Royal Academy’s Summer Show. I love the Summer Show. Firstly, because all the art has prices. Art without prices makes you ask yourself questions like: What is art? Is this art? Has this made me think more about things? Have I got a new perspective on life now? Art with a price tag makes you think much more interesting questions, like: Will this fit in my living room? And if it does, will I need to redecorate?
I also like the variety of art viewer you get at the Summer Show. Most galleries are made up of middle class families out on a culture cruise (so much better for the children than watching the TV) and Young People in interesting trousers and hats. The Summer Show actually has old people making their way through the muddle of twee, obscene, dull and perplexing art, turning to each other and happily saying: “Well, I think it’s worse than ever this year.” (Heard, this visit, next to Chirp Chirp Soldiers by Suguru Takada.)
But, as Sister Number 1 noted, the problem with all art exhibitions is that there is no tea stop halfway round. Appreciating art is extremely tiring, especially when you have to do it standing up. So, as we lurched into the courtyard after two and a half hours of hardcore art, our minds were turned to refreshment.
5th View is a few minutes walk from the RA and, as Ma G&C has a horror of Japanese food after a long holiday visiting SN1 there, seemed the best bet for lunch in the area.
5th View has the air of being an excellent place for a date. It’s in a book shop (intellectual), it’s decorated in muted colours and tactile fabrics (tasteful) and it has a view. Except it doesn’t. It has windows that overlook London from quite high up and you can sort of see various landmarks if you concentrate and have a map to compare the skyline to, but there’s nothing to make your heart swell with pride at the ingenuity of human beings.
The menu was divided into boards and bowls – nothing as bourgeois as plates for 5th View. At the top of the menu were the boards, which they suggest sharing as a starter, but because they were so staggeringly expensive, we opted to share as our lunch with a side of hot breads. The mezze board was a mix of Greek salad, breaded halloumi, falafels, stuffed vine leaves, olives, houmous, tabouleh and tzatziki. The meat board was made up of Prosciutto, salami, chorizo, rare roast beef, cornichons, pickled onions and other vinegary condiments that make a ploughman’s great. I also appreciated the huge slab of butter the crusty bread came with.
The food was good. The beef, in particular, melted in the mouth into a little puddle of tender blood and the salami was greasy with fat and spices. The mezze board managed to convey that sense of health and deep-fried that makes Turkish meals such a guilty pleasure, and our non-alcoholic cocktails did good work filling any gaps that the boards missed. My watermelon and grenadine mix, in particular, was summer in a glass, just like they promised.
The problem is that it was expensive for what it was. Prices ranged from £11-14 and £14 for a halloumi salad seems steep to me. Perhaps they are trading on their non-existent view. Perhaps it’s why it works as a date venue – chucking money at the problem can normally cheer along even the worst date. I’d go to 5th View for a cocktail, but I’d descend back to street level for dinner.