Scandinavian Soul Sessions: Aster's New Live Music Nights

Aster Live ★★★☆☆

By Lydia Manch Last edited 16 months ago
Scandinavian Soul Sessions: Aster's New Live Music Nights Aster Live 3

We're into Aster's mash-up vibes. Part restaurant, part cafe, part Finnish, part French — shiny and new but classically grand. And those are all happy marriages, harmonious stitchings together of disparate things.

The seams show a bit more on the new Aster Live nights. On paper, amazing: everything Aster already has going for it, along with a band. Grand brasserie meets gig, two different concepts smushed together. It's right in Aster's wheelhouse.

In practice, both ideas are working brilliantly, separately. The band's belting out soul and funk covers. The lead singer's got a voice that could hot-smoke a side of salmon from across the room.

And the food and drink? That's solid too — you know, if you're into elegant but powerful cocktails, or bread so soft and chewy it threatens to upstage the stuff it's meant to be a vehicle for, or fish coaxed into a moussey swirl.  

It's really loud, though. Not loud-for-a-gig loud, just loud for a place scattered with discreet marble accents and high-design kitchenware. Most of the tables don't have a line of sight to their little stage, so it's not a neck your wine and quietly gaze upon the band sort of deal. But it's also not a chat intimately while the background music plays on sort of volume.

The music promises a rambunctiousness that Aster's not really designed to deliver on. It's too Viennese coffeehaus or Scandi grand brasserie. It's too structured, too elegant — too dainty, basically, to work as a shout-over-the-music venue: the volume levels rev you up for wild times, everything else about the place firmly squashes that notion.

So Aster's delightful as always, but in two distinct ways, in a tug of war with each other. Let us pile elegant twists of salmon rillettes onto sliver-thin rye wafers, or let us get rowdy. We're not deft enough to do both.

Aster Live has live music every Thursday and DJs every Saturday and Sunday till the end of December, 2017.

Aster Restaurant & Cafe, 150 Victoria Street, SW1E 5LB.

Last Updated 27 November 2017