The waiter drops the decanter with a soft thud causing the contents to slightly slosh inside. I peered into the golden, murky liquid to see a baby cobra dancing to the tune of an imaginary flute. My skeptical gaze rolls up to my companion.
This is turning out to be one helluva first date.
Archipelago, located in Fitzrovia in central London, is devoted to the world’s weird and wonderful meats. Reflecting the adventures of exploration featured in the nearby British Museum, starters like python carpaccio, kangaroo skewers and crocodile in vine leaves are highlights of the ala carte menu. If that sounds too tame for your curious palate then the crickets in zesty chermoula sauce or zebra jerky with carrot and ginger jelly might be more to your taste.
For those of us that are a bit tamer, pork belly, lamb, and cassava are featured as slightly familiar options. Vegan? Forget it. You may not want to bother unless you want to spend the evening being looked down upon by a stuffed boar’s head with a very empty belly.
At the end of the meal, I gamely sidestepped the questionable golden liquor, still slightly dancing, by ordering a rosy hibiscus and raspberry jelly for dessert. For my friend, the waiter pours a shot while smiling like a hungry hyena. He then bows to us both with a dramatic sweep of his arm…
“Here’s to the start of your grand adventure!”