8 Broadwick St
http://www.basementsate.com Peaches & Cream £7*
Right, let’s start by getting the negatives out of the way. There are quite a few so bare with me, and as I’m leaving out the lack of Wi-Fi and the cacophony created by the barman brandishing a cocktail shaker that sounds as though it is filled with rocks and ball bearings that’s saying quite a lot. Firstly – and perhaps most distressingly – there is NO tea. Or coffee. Or hot chocolate. Or any drink that requires the use of a kettle (do they have a kettle in the staff area? They must do. Can I go in there, please? I promise I won’t ransack your Hobnobs). That for me is a very big negative, as my blood runs green with the amount of Twinnings, TeaPigs and Tetleys I sup on a hourly basis. What if I’m cold? Or a member of a latter-day temperance movement? Or a recovering alcoholic shoved off the wagon by a lack of hot water and tea bags? Hipster trendy twonks don’t think that Yorkshire tea is like sooooo yesterday, man, do they? (I don’t know how hipsters talk but I imagine it’s a cross between someone strung out on pot at Woodstock and someone stressing to a friend that their Nespresso pods haven’t been delivered on time) So, no hot beverages: big negative. Second negative, the options for soft drinks are… well, does anyone ever crave ginger beer or a tall glass of strawberry juice to such an extent that they represent the highlights of the soft drinks section of a menu? So, non-alcoholic drinks are a bit thin on the ground. Thirdly, it’s dark. Too-dark-to-read-the-menu dark. So dark that you have to use the light on your phone in order to read the thing, immediately ruining the candlelit atmosphere. We are talking dark. Right, so so far, so disgruntled. Then my dessert – Peaches and Cream – arrives, and I know that my skills as a amature photographer are going to be challenged. Try as I might, whether with flash on, flash off, candles in the background, candles in the foreground, candles to the left of them, candles to the right of them (rode the six hundred. Sorry, couldn’t help myself) every picture from every angle looks like it was taken down an abandoned mineshaft or… well, in a basement. To make matters worse, Diana Ross is singing about coming out as part of the disco soundtrack. Well, my bloody pictures won’t be coming out, Di, but thanks for not harping on about it!
Normally in times of stress (yep, this is what I consider stressful. Sad, isn’t it?) I would kick back with a nice cup of tea, read for a few minutes and listen to something soothing on my Ipod, Sid Vicious murdering ‘My Way’, for instance, or ‘Vindaloo’ by Fat Les, but all of these options are currently unavailable, so I find myself in the strange position of trying to enjoy a beautiful looking dessert almost out of spite. ‘You better be good!’ I threaten telepathically, stabbing into what appears to be a peach but which is actually a ball of cream dusted orange to impersonate a peach. I am actually angry with a pudding! The adoption of the food blogger/Instragram mindset has clearly addled my brain. I can’t enjoy it because others won’t be able to see me enjoying it, and the post won’t work because the pictures will be naff and no one really wants to read this toss as a substitute for the fabulous pics I’m struggling to take. Then I realise something. It isn’t that I’m not enjoying it because I can’t capture it for posterity. I’m not enjoying it because the dessert consists of balls and dollops and splats of buttercream, and buttercream has always been the first thing I scrape of fairy cakes because the taste does nothing for me and I believe it to be the work of the devil (along with HP sauce and sweet potato mash). Thankfully there is a nice scattering of nuts and biscuits and a delicious scoop of peach sorbet to raise the spirits, but overall my feeling towards this particular experience can be expressed with one emoji: 🤨
However, once I got over my aversion to any disco music that isn’t Bony M and got used to viewing the world through Stevie Wonder’s eyes, I recognised that Basement Sate is actually a pretty cool place to be. I like the low key exterior; the speakeasy vibe; the gentleman’s club furnishings. It’s a sit back and chill place; a bar that encourages lively chats and conversations, something that will come in handy when you’re coming back from the toilet as you’ll need to follow the braying voice of a companion in order to stumble blindly back to your table. I also like the presentation of the desserts as they are clearly made by creative people who want to impress with their innovative menu. The problem is that there isn’t much substance behind the creativity and taste is taking a backseat to the desire to make a blob of sickly cream look like a peach or a tree or a Orbital Sander. So, overall – and suffering the withdrawal symptoms from going a whole hour without a brew – the only comment that really does my feelings justice is a big, resounding meh. On the bright side, once I stumbled back up to street level and my eyes adjusted to natural light I found that my pictures weren’t such a car crash after all. Behold fake fruit in all its murky glory 🍑
*Prices/information correct as of 27.09.19
Feel free to share stories, views and tips in the comments section below. Always fun to hear from fellow teaholics xx