London food is on fire. We have great markets, lots of street food, some of the worlds best fine dining, terrific mid range restaurants, ace cheap eats and superb international food, especially Asian. So many restaurants are opening, on a scale that compares with New York in recent years.
I travel a lot, and I love it, but I always love to come home. Travel makes it better, and makes me appreciate London even more. I spoke about London recently with Rick Bayless on The Feed Podcast, and was delighted to share my views on what makes the London food scene so brilliant at the moment, with reference to our vibrant markets (the episode of The Feed podcast that I spoke on is here).
A very good example of the new energy in London is Robin and Sarah Gill. The effect that they have had on the London food scene in less than 3 years is remarkable. Last year, two of their restaurants were in the Good Food Guide Top 50, and Robin was named chef of the year.
There is their first restaurant, The Dairy, where they do a relaxed version of fine dining, and very well priced too. They opened The Dairy quietly in 2013 after a 4 year stint at Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons. They opened under their own steam, unusually for London with no PR, no design agency putting the room and brand together, just their own energy and ideas (and lots of it).
There is a kitchen garden on the roof which supplies much of their produce, and they have their own bees there for honey too. I have eaten there several times, and always enjoy it. There are hints of our mutual Irish origins, but The Dairy is a contemporary space making the best of their kitchen garden and seasonal ingredients in a deceptively laid back way.
The Manor & Paradise Garage
The Manor followed, a different style, but also striking in its own way. It seemed that the Gills could not put a foot wrong. Head chef Dean Parker is doing interesting things with fermentation here. This extends to the drinks list too, I loved the kombucha sour.
Following that, Robin and Sarah turned their attentions east, and opened Paradise Garage, one of the most exciting openings of 2015 (read my review of Paradise Garage from last year). I had a gorgeous solo lunch there on a day when I had fully earned it. I need to return with a posse so that we can order the highly regarded whole rabbit for the table.
My lunch at Paradise Garage
So, three restaurants and also The Delicatessen, next door to The Dairy, where I go regularly for their terrific spongy boules of sourdough bread with a thin but perfect crust, house made pickles, house cured trout, the best of what is in season, and great sandwiches (salt beef or ham for me), which I eat with a coffee on the sunny patio outside. There are cakes too, and the whipped bone marrow butter is worth the trip alone. Plus the potato bread, whatever you do, don’t leave without some of that. It is divine.
One of my many hauls from The Delicatessen last year, plated out in my friends garden for lunch. Joy!
Bloodshot Supper Club
That seems a lot but not enough, as last year Robin turned his attentions to the monthly Bloodshot Supper Club. Running on the last Saturday of every month, The Dairy team and a guest chef serve a multi course menu, starting after midnight so that restaurant staff can go when their shift ends. Food and drinks comes to £70 all in, per person.
On Saturday, Chris Trundle (Senior Sous chef at The Manor) took charge of the stove and served a stellar menu, the highlights of which were Duck Hearts, Dates & Dukkah; Polenta, Hokkaido Pumpkin and Mandarin; a stellar Pork with Minestra Nera and and Anchovyand a smart cheese course of stichleton (the original recipe stilton, still unpasteurised) in between sliced pear and topped with truffle.
Chris Trundle’s food at Bloodshot Supper Club
Bloodshot Supper Club served up one of the most fun nights that I have had in a restaurant, the perfect evening for people who love good food, and a lot of fun. A one off meal cooked by someone already known to be good, given a chance to stretch their wings.
Here is to London, and The Dairy, and their wonderful Bloodshot Supper Club. Don’t miss it. I brought a visiting friend from NYC as I thought it was the most perfect London experience that she could have at the moment. And I was right.
What you need to know
We paid £70 a head. There are only 45 places and it always books out so get in early. More info here: http://the-dairy.co.uk/events