Some people collect stamps, others collect vinyl, and then there are those people you definitely want to be friends with who collect vintage convertibles. But we collect food memories. That’s right, we spend our days hunting down delicious things in the hopes that they’re good enough to join our mental arsenal of Seriously Tasty Things.
These dishes have all achieved Seriously Tasty status. From a pub lunch of cod and tomatoes on toast, to PSC (that’s poached soy chicken FYI), these are our favourite food highlights from the last month.
APRIL'S BEST DISHES
Maldon Rock Oysters
Oysters may technically be a mollusc, but in our humble opinion they’re actually a state of mind. Want to feel like you’re a grown-up who makes good decisions on your birthday? Oysters. Want a date night that says ‘sorry you had to see me wear Pokemon pyjamas for the entirety of February, I am, in fact, quite sexy’? Oysters. Want to feel alive after months of government-mandated isolation? Oysters baby, oysters. This Soho spot from ingredient-led family-operation, the Gladwin Brothers, is all about quality produce, and their oysters are no exception. These Maldon rock oysters have a particularly meaty taste and are perfect for anyone that likes a more subtle saltiness over feeling like your palate has been thrown into the Pacific. Plus, you get to watch them being shucked fresh from the terrace in Sussex’s little Noilly Prat oyster shack on the street. Combine with one of our all-time favourite sparkling wines, the Nutbourne ‘Nutty Wild’, direct from the Gladwin Brother’s Sussex Vineyard, for peak summer feels.
Crispy Aromatic Duck (Half)
Balham’s got a new Chinese restaurant that’s serving the classics. We’re talking Sichuan dumplings, char siu pork, and old faithful, crispy aromatic duck pancakes. And let us tell you, the duck here is fantastic. It arrives at your table like the ultimate party guest, smelling amazing and glistening, before being ceremoniously carved whilst you pretend you’re not dribbling in public. The pancakes are thick enough to hold a serious dose of duck, hoisin, spring onions, and cucumber, without a single tear. But it’s the duck that’s the real star of the show. The skin is gloriously crispy but the meat is still nice and juicy with that whole melt in the mouth thing going on. You can also opt for a quarter, but when it’s this good, going for a half is a no-brainer.
Sometimes taking risks pays off, like switching from Apple Music to Spotify. But a risk we wouldn’t recommend you take, is going to this tiny Persian spot off the Edgware Road and not ordering the boneless chicken. Not because the other meats on the menu aren’t great - they are - but because the boneless chicken is juicy, succulent, and beautifully marinated, and our favourite part of an excellent meal. With that being said, you should come here knowing that you need the ‘big special bread’ alongside all of the starters. As well as the minced chicken and minced lamb. Basically, it’s all pretty great, but whatever you do: boneless chicken.
Slow Cooked Cod and Bull’s Heart Tomatoes on Toast
Some adages, like ‘eat to live, and not live to eat’ are absolute nonsense. Others, like ‘absence makes the heart grow fonder’, are very true. We thought about this at The Scolt Head, one of north London’s loveliest boozers, as we tucked into a totally OTT Friday pub lunch from a menu headed up by ex-Chiltern Firehouse chef (and De Beauvoir local) Nuno Mendes. The cod was soft and the Bull’s Heart tomatoes were sweet. And the dill - remember dill? It’s really nice to have dill when you’ve sort of forgotten about dill - was like an old friend. Pubs are back, hearts are fond, and there’s nothing wrong with living to eat.
Ah, where to begin. We’d checked out Cue Point’s naco meal kits towards the end of 2020 and they definitely made it onto our mental list of 2020 silver linings, but the platter at Cue Point’s residency at The Chiswick Pavilion is on another level. It comes with their 16-hour smoked brisket, lamb barbacoa, buffalo wings, fries, coleslaw, hush puppies (a Cue Point take on an onion bhaji), and their Afghan chutney and dips. The meats are tender, the buffalo wings crispy and tangy, and the portion so generous that you could end up wrapping it all back up to go, especially if, like us, you can’t resist starting things off with their excellent smoked brisket burger.
Poached soy chicken
Mr Ji is a Taiwanese fried chicken specialist. And as far as specialisms go, that’s one we’re extremely interested in. They actually opened, briefly, during the back end of the hellscape records will know as the year 2020, but it’s only now that the Old Compton Street spot is properly up and running. The menu is chicken, but not entirely chicken, and with a little help from TATA Eatery - formerly of the superb kitchen in Tayer + Elementary - there’s a choice of other funky bits and bobs. A cake-like, parmesan-topped, and béchamel-filled prawn toast for example. But it is the chicken that’s a must, and in particular, the PSC (poached soy chicken). It’s impossibly moist, with perfect soy-level, and paired with a wonderfully pungent garlic and spring onion sauce.