Volupté, 7-9 Norwich Street, London EC4A 1EJ
Normally on a Friday night we’re worn out and slumped in front of the telly watching True Blood with a takeaway.
Last week we decided on a break from the norm and went to Volupté for some dinner with a burlesque background. I slipped into a flapper dress after work, donned some seamed tights and set off for Fleet Street (where else would you find a burlesque club?)
Last time we went the crowd there were all kitted out in 1920’s gear, this time I walked into the bar only to find everyone else looking ‘normal’. Talk about overdressed!
We ordered a cocktail from the Bon Bon Bar which, as our last visit, we had to wait a long time for. This isn’t helped by the fact that one of the bar staff was running around like a headless burlesque artist serving sweets! By the time our drinks were made we were whisked downstairs to be seated for dinner. Ade’s become somewhat of an expert on Espresso Martinis of late and he was a tad disappointed with this one. The espresso wasn’t freshly made and extra ice had to be strained into the glass to top it up, making it very watery.
The basement room is small and very dimly lit and looked like a shabby but chic boudoir. There was a splattering of couples, and two tables of men, giving it a totally different feel to when we came for Afternoon Tease.
Starters are for sharing, a slate arrived with a nibble of each dish. Charlotte Potato & Kale velouté with London beer, Steak Tartare made with egg yolk sabayon and pickles, with cruditées and bread. Potted Salmon with a pickled fennel and fennel jam garnish, sprinkled with Avruga caviar and Autumn Artichoke salad with truffle emulsion, French beans and shallots. I will never get steak tartare ever so Ade ate most of that. I enjoyed the soup and salmon though, and it was nice to have a few different things going on.
The Kitten Club act started with a male compère/comedian/magician, a posh chap named Christian Lee with a smutty sense of humour, he reminded us of a good friend. Typical gag… ‘What’s better than roses on your piano? Tulips on your organ! Boom boom.
There is no stage, the acts are right in front of you. It couldn’t get more intimate. We had a variety of singing, ‘typical’ Burlesque and even a guy! As he was whipping off his Caterpillar boots Ade turned to me and said ‘I could do that!’ Make of that what you like… Our favourite was a circus type performer who did remarkable things with hula hoops, and I don’t mean the crisps.
It all seemed to be timed slightly odd as we ended up tucking into our main courses whilst a lady was strutting around in front of us covering her modesty with giant powder puffs. We were torn between watching and eating, both was not possible at the same time. Then after our food there was a fifteen minute interval when nothing happened, perhaps this would have been a more appropriate time to eat?
Neither of us were impressed with our mains too much, I ordered the Confit Duck Leg with a merguez sausage and chickpea cassoulet and Ade the Rump of Beef served with bone marrow gratin, pickled trompettes and watercress. Getting any meat off my duck leg was near impossible. There was only one slice of sausage to be found and I was still so hungry I had to order some chips. Ade’s bite-size slices of beef were gone in three mouthfuls, and were chewy and a little over-cooked for medium. The marrow bone gratin was lovely but again the portion size small.
Desserts were a sharing affair like the starters; Poached Plums with autumn herbs and a Chantilly cream with a touch of cinnamon, Warm Chocolate Brownie doused with Dulce du Leche and Earl Grey infused Nougat Semifreddo with blackberry and a white chocolate sauce.
Not bad, but it is hard to taste the flavours when there is so much else going on. All I know is we were still hungry. Possibly the only time we’ve been out for a three-course meal and wanted to pop into a newsagent for a snack on the way home.
The show ended on the bloke again, a finale of him producing flames from his nether regions. It was at this point the table of four guys walked out. I don’t think that is what they came for…
It was only about 8.30 and the night was already over, although there is another performance at 10pm followed by dancing till 3am. We were going to pop back upstairs for a drink but decided to wander over to Polpo’s Negroni bar for a Dark & Stormy cocktail and then picked up a takeaway on the way home.
Despite the hunger and premature ending, we did have a good laugh and it’s always nice to do something a bit different. At £63 each, we didn’t think it was fantastic value for money, maybe the second sitting (followed by the nightclub) would seem like a better deal. But that said it was fun and the acts were very good at what they do. Just a shame that the evening ended so early with a little flash and a puff of smoke rather than a big bang – well that’s burlesque for you, all tease!
Opening hours: Tuesday and Wednesday 4.30pm – 1am
Thursday and Friday 4.30pm – 3am
Saturday 2.00pm – 3am
Sunday Closed all day
Monday Closed all day
Nearest tube: Chancery Lane