I have often passed the bright yellow shop on Rupert Street in Soho, just along from Snog, and wondered what delights were hidden inside. Having surmised that there was a very definite focus on mangos, further investigation revealed that MADD is in fact the UK’s only mango dessert bar, and takes its name from the term “mango addiction”.
Dessert bars are big business in Thailand and Hong Kong, and co-founders Ralph and Jonathan are keen to bring the concept to Brits. Open from breakfast until late evening, MADD offers diners the chance to build their own mango based desserts or order drinks such as cocktails, smoothies and lassis – so where better to set up shop than the open-minded and early adopting street of Soho.
MADD is certainly doing something right, as they celebrated their first anniversary last night by hosting a ‘Madd Hatters Tea party’. Isobel and I couldn’t resist being lured inside by a sign outside which read “Challenge the Hatter to a game, beat him…and win a dessert for 2!”
At first we thought that the onus was on us to come up with a game, so we quickly concocted a complicated celebrity naming game, but when we were whisked inside by the Madd Hatter himself, we discovered it was a much more daunting prospect – Jenga!
Having never played before, my strategy was not exactly considered, so I began removing blocks left, right and centre. The Madd Hatter, believing I was ‘playing dirty’, upped his game, and before long, we were left with an architectural wonder of a tower which was somehow supported by a single Jenga block.
What had started off as a seemingly light-hearted game to win a dessert, ended up morphing into an epic battle with everything to play for. Isobel provided sound structural engineering advice from the side-lines, while the Hatter and I, fuelled by delicious Mango cocktails (served in tea cups and pots of course), proceeded to attempt impossible feats of balance.
The tension was intolerable; my heart was pounding and my hands were shaking. Each time a block was somehow removed from the precarious tower, it seemed as if nothing more could be done – but somehow the game continued on. Of course, what goes up must come down, and inevitably a risky move coupled with a rickety table and a popping balloon resulted in the tower coming crashing down.
While I sipped my drink to celebrate victory (as well as steady my nerves), Isobel and I were treated to the most delicious mango desserts imaginable – including sticky rice topped with Alphonso mango chunks, and a mascarpone based delight decorated with ‘molecular mango balls’.
The shop is on a much larger scale than first gleaned from outside, and on passing the bar area, it opens into an inviting and inspiring space in which to work or meet with friends. The interior sees orange and yellow tones (proven to be psychologically associated with optimism and creativity) coupled with eccentric touches such as painted mannequins suspended from the ceiling and stools resembling wooden mango crates.
I was pleasantly surprised to have found myself spending the evening playing games, chatting and meeting new people (I had no idea quite how many mango enthusiasts there are!) The environment is invigorating and stimulating, and the dessert bar is a great concept – lending itself perfectly to the Soho area.
In olden times, people would gather in coffee houses to play games and set the world to rights. These days, consumers expect something a little more vibrant – and you can’t really get more vibrant than basing a shop around inventive and interesting ways to use fresh mango. I love the store’s concept of being a ‘creative space’ in which to work or hang out, and while I don’t think my nerves could handle another game of Jenga, if the other dishes on offer taste as good as the ones I tried at the party – I’ll definitely be back.
MADD is located at 53 Rupert Street, W1D 7PH
Open Monday-Thursday: 7am – 11pm, Friday: 7am – midnight, Saturday: 11am – midnight and Sunday: 11am – 11pm
Visit the website for more information: www.wearemadd.com