Video games and food: two of life’s great pleasures. What then could be better than a Final Fantasy XV themed menu at Jamie Oliver’s restaurant Fifteen? As it turns out, a great many things. To say that it didn’t quite hit the mark is a bit of an understatement and the experience left a slightly bitter aftertaste.
It’s important to say right off the bat that the restaurant staff were all very friendly and the food that was on the regular menu looked and smelt bloody delicious. The beer is reasonably priced and you can get a main for about £15, which for London is pretty good for a fine(ish) dining experience.
When we were being shown to our table, the maître d pointed out all of the artwork from the game that had been put up for the event. It was subtle, using frames that fit in with the restaurant’s decor, and if you blinked you’d completely miss it. It’s understandable for them to take steps to avoid alienating other diners by being too promotional but you’ve got to question why they bothered doing a week long collaboration if they took such great steps to hiding what they are promoting.
The menu itself was the only clear piece of game marketing in the restaurant but aside from the FFXV logo and images, the actual food seemed to have no real relevance to the game. It would have been good to see an ode to FFVII’s Chef’s Special or a Chocobo Cheeseburger but unfortunately that was not the case.
Risotto “Bubble & Squeak”, beer-pickled onion, Berkswell cheese – £13
This was one of the most unappetising looking starters Hitbox Gaming has ever been served. It was quite frankly a sloppy, oily, salty mess. No idea where they were channelling the “Bubble & Squeak” but it wasn’t on the plate. Breakswell cheese was essentially a garnish, like when you grate some parmesan on your bolognese at home if you’ve got your mum around and you want her to think you’re sophisticated.
Short rib, Yukon Gold mash, garlic, Montgomery Cheddar – £24
After washing away the salty starter with a good swig of Camden Pale Ale the main course was brought out. For £24, expectations were high. In all fairness, the portion size was decent and the rib was tender and moist. The sauce was again very salty and the cheese was almost non existent. The mash was mediocre, the texture and taste was akin to the stuff you get in Tesco for a pound.
Yuzu Cheesecake, Blueberry Compote, Ginger Crumble – £7
Astonishingly this dish was actually worse than the starter. The combination of a soft cheese filling and overly buttered base gave the consistency of hospital food. The compote was just a handful of blueberries placed on top.
Squaresoft has pumped a lot of money into marketing Final Fantasy XV, which is understandably given the lackluster reaction to the last few games. While it is important to build hype around a game launch (see Destiny’s nanite ARG for the recent Rise of Iron DLC) but forcing a tenuous link through the number 15 with a poorly executed week long themed menu is not the way to do it.
Hitbox Gaming is still excited for Final Fantasy XV but the game is going to have to be good to forget this half-baked marketing stunt.