Last week I had the pleasure of dining on board the Bustronome, a new and unique experience in London. An offshoot of the successful Bustronome Paris, the concept combines London sight seeking with luxury food and wine pairing, on top of a bus. In London this is being brought in collaboration with the popular (and my personal favourite) French restaurant Gazette.
We met at Victoria Embankment Gardens, where our Bustronome bus was waiting for us. The bus itself is a bespoke double decker, done in all black that has been repurposed for the experience. The lower level has a fully functioning kitchen where Chef Pascal Even and his team were busy prepping all the food. The upper deck had been transformed into an upscale restaurant seating about 40 diners. They offer a four-course (lunch) or six course (dinner) Tasting Menu with wine pairing. The roof is all-glass to maximise the 360 panoramic views. There were tables in configurations of two and four, so it was perfect for dining in a group or a fun date! Each table had a bespoke, illuminated stand to hold wine glasses and water for the table. Each service had two members of staff looking after us.
The Bustronome travels through all major tourist routes of London covering iconic landmarks like Tower Bridge, St. Paul’s Cathedral and the Houses of Parliament.
As we made our way to the upper deck, we were offered a welcome glass of champagne which was a nice touch. As we sat sipping our champagne and soaking in the views, our lovely servers brought in some canapés – smoky and creamy Aubergine Caviar Bruschetta. Alongside our canapé, we were offered a choice of white or red wine in preparation for the first of the six courses that were about to follow.
First up was the Mushroom Soup with Truffle Whipped Cream which was creamy and garlicky, with a luxurious truffle whipped cream on top. I don’t normally go for mushroom soup but this was so delicious that I practically licked the bowl.
The Scallops Carpaccio, Spinach Shoot Vinaigrette, Fennel and Pomegranate were next. The translucent slivers of scallop were baby-fresh and ceviche-like in terms of composition. The juliennes of fennel and pomegranate seeds added crunch and colour contrast. It was a nice light and refreshing starter.
Next up was the fish course – Lemon Sole Fish & Chips Revisited. This was a perfect choice to serve on board and went with the theme of discovering England as its such a staple. On this occasion, the fish was well cooked, lightly coated in batter. However, the chips were underdone which was a pity. Nothing that can’t be remedied for next time.
Moving on to the meat course, we were served the Roast Lamb Fillet with Mint Jus, Parsnip Purée and Beurre Noisette. It was a very nice bit of lamb – pink, soft-middled and perfectly seasoned. The black carrots added a bit of texture and sweetness to the plate. It was a superb course, something that was also echoed by my fellow diners.
Fifth course was a Cheese Course – Stilton with Apricots and Port Reduction Sauce. Again, Stilton is something I normally don’t go for but this was mild and had a smooth, pâté-like consistency which I loved. It paired very well with the sweetness of the apricots.
The final course was Dessert – Apple Confit, Hazelnut Crumble, Granny Smith Sorbet. The sorbet was a nice palate cleanser, quite sharp and perfect for warm summer days. But my favourite was the pastry tart which had soaked up in all the fruity juices. The style and presentation was on point too.
Every table comes with its own sleek hand held Audio Guide (with multiple language settings) so you can get the full tourist experience.
I have often said that with foodie experiences like these, you will always get either the experience right or the food. Bustronome manages to pull both off nicely; a top experience that does not compromise on the food. Two courses had ingredients that I generally don’t opt for (mushroom and Stilton), yet I loved both dishes – that says something about the cooking.
I thoroughly enjoyed my evening on board and totally recommend it. It would be a fantastic way for sight seeing in London, for a casual and fun date, a special occasion meal or even a hen/stag do! But most of all, it is an extraordinarily fun way to be a tourist in your own city.
All aboard the Bustronome!
More information can be found here.
N.B. I was a guest of Gazette but all photos and opinions are mine.