Pop pickers might know this as the opening line from the Searchers 1963 hit, but it’s also very appropriate for Love Potion number 9, the bright red opening cocktail of the Valentines sensory eating experience at The Arch hotel. The first one comes out gushing ethereally, but this is for your eyes only as quaffing dry ice does nothing for your evening. After that, the barman brings over a couple of champagne saucers that contain the real thing. Two strawberry hearts on the rim hint at things to come.
A red velvet cake it set before us, but of course it’s a tease, being made of thinly sliced caramelised beetroot, goats curd and a piped horseradish cream. Another sweet thing for the palate, and as I sip the last of my cocktail I get to thinking about the film of the same name. It’s a 1992 comedy about 2 scientists who are hopeless with the opposite sex so experiment with a potion that makes them irresistible to anyone who hears them speak. I`m not so sure real life will be that accommodating, so I refrain from huskily asking the girls on the neighbouring table if they are hearing anything they like the sound of.
A Rhubarb sorbet with Granny Smith granite slides into view to cleanse the palate, and confounds s expectations by having granny as the sweeter element to partner the tartness of the rhubarb. It’s a good combo, and I`m cleansed and ready
Mains are, strangely, more muted and subtle in their approach. The sensory tickle under the armpit now morphed into the brush of a feather across the eyelids. I`m on the poached fillet of halibut, herb gnocchi, slow roast tomatoes & oyster fritter with oyster and cucumber broth. I`m not sure I`m completely on board with this change of tempo, and I find myself longing for a bit more savoury oomph. The oyster particularly was a bit nondescript, and sadly didn`t have me swinging rampantly from the chandeliers. My paramour went for the Grilled Dedham Vale beef, rather excellent ratatouille, pesto glazed Portobello and balsamic reduction. Those who favour red wine and red meat to stoke the fires will do well here.
Pineapple ravioli, passion fruit jelly and lime sorbet had to be the one for desserts, if only to see how that ravioli was going to be conjured up. The answer: slice your pineapple very thin, cook gently in a syrup, then allow to cool before wrapping over a square of sorbet -imaginative and tasty. Coffee and petit fours follow, and for those either too full to move, or imbued with unstoppable carnal desires, a suite for the night. For the rest of us luvved up types, it’s a less prosaic trip back on the tube.
The Valentines Sensory Experience at Hunter 486 is £75ph for 5 courses, coffee and petit fours and is available on Friday the 9th, Saturday the 10th, Wednesday the 14th, Friday the 16th and Saturday the 17th of Feb. Book early and try to snaffle one of the gauze shrouded banquets for a bit of extra romance
Bookings on 0207 7244 700