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Shaftesbury Avenue has traditionally acted as a border pass between the more hip square mile of Soho and the tackier, tourist-filled Chinatown and Leicester Square. It’s a line that some gay boys rarely cross (unless it’s to enjoy the Ku Bar or occasional extravaganza at Café De Paris). Situated just south of this border, at the Leicester Square end of Rupert Street, is Dstrkt, which opened with much fanfare in mid-December. This £25m development has taken over the former Planet Hollywood and Rex Cinema site, and comprises of a restaurant, lounge bar and nightclub, open five days a week (lunch and evening for the restaurant, and from 10pm-3am for the club). It comes with some pedigree, too, with its creators including the partners of Brompton Brands (Whisky Mist, Mahiki) and the founders of Buddha Bar in Vienna.

As the

renovation cost suggests, no expense has been spared in creating what its backers hope

will quickly become one of London’s hippest and most exclusive haunts. Its website already boasts a gallery of celebrities snapped within the club, while the VIP area apparently includes ‘the world’s first bar made from precious stone’. The club appears to be the sort of place that you might run into a Heat-reading T.O.W.I.E starlet or member of JLS – more likely to appeal to the Shadow Lounge set than those who favour Vogue Fabrics. And what of the restaurant? Well, the

designers have done their very best with what’s basically a subterranean black box. You descend the grey stairwell and are ushered into a large room that is split into three distinct levels made up of balconies, glass screens and a large, eye-catching centre-piece light with hundreds of pulsating plastic discs. Along with the


Restaurant in Beverly Hills. It’s described as European cuisine, with a dash of Heston Blumenthal-inspired molecular creativity thrown in to the mix.

Our feast began with a spoonful of farm-

raised Sevruga caviar from Bulgaria, served on crème fraiche and a warm blini. This was followed by a rich and earthy venison tartar served on brown rice crackers, and grilled flat bread salad with Macadamia nut pesto, goats cheese, sweet peppers and tomatoes. The dishes came out rapidly – but the service slowed down when they noted that we weren’t fast eaters. Yellow fin tuna cubes came with avocado mousse and ‘soy air’. I’ve never seen ‘air’ on a menu before, but it turned out to be a variation on foam. Pretentious name aside, it was a good combination of flavours, with the tuna served at just the right temperature.

background music (easy listening covers of pop hits when we arrived at 7.30pm on a Thursday evening), the overall result hums with a gentle kinetic energy. A glass wall of temperature-controlled wine bottles asserts the seriousness with which the venue takes its drinks list. It boasts of serving “the world’s most expense rosé from Chateau d’Esclans”. The cocktail list is extensive, but not outrageously priced. To experience the full gamut of tastes

on offer, we opted for the taster menu (£55 per head). The food has been overseen by George Yaneff, formerly of Bazaar

We counted about 11 dishes in total, and although it was great to try almost everything on the menu, it bordered on a sensory overload. Our favourites were the aforementioned tuna, seared scallops with saffron-pumpkin sauce and Scottish rib-eye steak with deep fried zucchini and Talisker sauce. They also do some great vegetable dishes, such as an amazing cauliflower with Razalhanout – a Middle Eastern mix of spices that gave the dish the taste of autumnal bonfire smoke – and came to the table trailing its own vapour! A pan-fried truffle gnocchi with cheddar espuma (more foam-ey sauce) was a low point, along with ‘Paté bon-bon’ – a foie-gras lollipop sprinkled in tongue-popping carbonated candy. The amount and quality of food served proved good value for £55.

If you opt to

eat from the menu, Distrkt recommend 3-4 of the tapas

style dishes each for around £37 a head – although the sky’s the limit if you peruse the caviar list.

Leave room for dessert though. We

enjoyed an amazing vanilla ice cream with rhubarb foam and an apple tart with Egg Nog ice cream. My companion thought his Espresso Martini to be the best he’d tasted outside Italy. The place was fairly empty when we

arrived, save for what sounded like a group of Russian businessmen a few tables from us. Things began to get busier around 9pm. It would seem that it hasn’t yet become the ‘must-go’ haunt, but that’s has nothing to do with the food, which is really very good. If you want to sample a taste of the high life for yourself, visit early in the evening – they’re currently offering a pre-theatre ‘four small dishes and glass of Champagne for £25’ offer, which is as good a way as any to decide whether you belong in this particular Dstrkt or not.

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