Dinner at Archipelago Restaurant – Whitfield Street

*Apologies for the dim pictures, no flash on my tablet and the restaurant was dimly lit*

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Got invited out for dinner with an old friend and for a change, thought I blog about dinner instead. With a byline stating “exploring the exotic”, not too sure what to expect. Was told by my friend it will be interesting and that I would like it, I wait with abated breath.

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Reason for dinner at Archipelago is because this friend of mine is really into those discount voucher, deal-of-the-day websites and she always have a few on hand when she ask to meet up. Well, I was a fan of such sites as well and you can get quite good deals if you chose carefully. Have to say I piped down a bit on my purchases from such sites as there was a point where I bought so many that I found it hard to use them all up before they expire. Also, got a bit frustrated when voucher for restaurants often requires a reservation way in advance or when they only allocate a few reservations a day to cater to those with vouchers. The stress of meeting expiry date combined with the frustration of not getting reservations at a time or day I need jaded me. Anyway, I digress…

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The first thing that hit me when I entered the restaurant was how crowded it seemed. Well, the restaurant was close to capacity when we got there but it’s not my fellow diners that crowds the place, it’s the decor. Every perceivable surface is filled with knick-knacks tourist would collect on their travels. Take a look at the table dressing, the table is full before anything was served. Luckily, most of the junk was cleared when our drinks and food arrived.

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So the deal my friend purchased was for 2 courses and a glass of sparkling wine each from the ala carte menu. Interesting menu I have to say. Each dish has it’s own special name hinting the part of the world as it’s inspiration. Osaka Pearl contains unagi while Serengi Strut has zebra! For starter, I chose the Persian Drake which is a wild duck breast salad with pistachio and pomegranate. Not very exotic sounding I know but it taste great. The duck breast is more gamey than normal duck breast and was cooked to perfection, nice and pink on the inside. The portion was a tad small and sorry, I forgot to take a picture.

Kept the exotic for my main course. I had the Havana Wat which is alpaca cooked a ropa vieja style with a big injera pancake and a side of stewed cabbage. The name and description of the dish is rather appropriate. The “wat” is a Ethiopean stew served on top of the injera bread while the alpaca is shredded which is what ropa vieja means. I guess the Havana portion refers to the alpaca though I don’t think alpaca is indigenous to Cuba?

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I really loved the texture of the injera. Sound, fluffy and when soaked with the juice of the shredded alpaca goes down as smooth as silk. Imagine a softer dosai. The garnish of banana chips was a nice touch and the stew cabbage was slightly spiced with cumin. Both did not add much to the meal I thought. How does alpaca taste like? Well, it tastes like a lighter version of shredded flank steak, perhaps a shredded veal might taste similar. Could do with more salt I thought, but tasty nonetheless.

Final bill cames up to £18 which include 2 Xingu beer (nice black Brazilian beer, highly recommended), £2 cover each for water and canapes and service. Would I be willing to pay full price, I think I would.

Archipelago
110 Whitfield Street
London W1T 5ED
0207 383 3346

PS: The convo came up during dinner about whether I’m really eating alpaca? Alpaca is raised for their pelt but I don’t think they are raised for meat? Would anyone bother to perform a DNA analysis to verify?

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