In the short-lived gasp of thaw between the two recent crippling cold snaps the BSG and I ventured out on our first gourmet foray west-side, just a short skip over the canal in W10.
Not suckers for awards (you wouldn’t have caught me in front of Sports Personality of the Year on Sunday; life’s far too short, and the Oscars, well, I switch off after the red carpet) we were leafing through the OFM awards issue earlier this autumn and were delighted to read about hot young chef Stevie Parle and his restaurant, The Dock Kitchen, situated right above Tom Dixon’s showroom and decked out in tons of the designer’s covetable must-haves. If I can find a handbag big enough I’ll be back and unscrewing one of the copper pendant lamps before you can say ‘Habitat’.
Anyhoo, it was a complete delight, cosy, aglow with candles and packed. I think I may have just mentioned before my inability to come to a decision… Well, here one is somewhat relieved of the burden of choice as they theme the menu around a particular event (Christmas), place (Sri Lanka maybe) or foodstuff (new season olive oil) and turn out simple yet refined dishes extolling the produce rather than looking like something that’d win ladies day at Ascot. Think of what you’d cook for the person you love the most in the hands of an expert, and that’s kind of close to what it’s like.
We started with shaved fennel and pomegranate salad, simply dressed with evergreen olive oil and lemon juice, the pomegranate pips twinkling bauble-like in the glow: a virtuous start to the Dock Kitchen’s take on Christmas feasting. Next up, a chestnut and chorizo soup of the richest brown, exuding aromas of smoke and Spain. Thick, rich and textured, a shallow bowl of this went a long way and definitely it was one for savouring rather than slurping with abandon.
The main event was roast goose with stewed lentils, tomatoes and spring greens. The BSG then dropped the bombshell that he’d never had goose before, so suddenly the stakes were raised. We weren’t disappointed. Beautifully cooked and seasoned, this bird tasted as if it may have even enjoyed the cooking process. Succulent, lightly laced with brandy and resonating with herbs, it had clearly taken a Christmassy, pre-furnace bath and it paired so perfectly with the accompaniments I momentarily wondered whether roast potatoes were indeed necessary on Christmas Day (I know, but I’d been driven to the edge of reason.)
We shared a plate of walnuts and a tranche of buttery yellow Stilton (delicious but unnecessary considering what was to follow). It truly was becoming a dress rehearsal for 25th December – loosen belts time! Panettone bread and butter pudding with custard seemed the only polite way to draw the feast to a close – after all, we did have an impressive walk home…sweet home!
Happy Christmas one and all.
So that’s it – we’ve done it, and if I ever see another cardboard box it’ll be too soon. The night before we left the well-appointed two bed with leafy views in EC1 for somewhere more westerly we thought we’d nip down to Exmouth Market for a pizza. However, (thanks to Time Out’s pizza issue earlier this year) Santoré was rammed as usual, so we gleefully skipped onwards under the strings of twinkling lights to Medcalf, an steadfast stalwart in our dating life. Whenever there have been plans to make, a small anniversary to celebrate or a treat to be had then it has been the bavette at this erstwhile butcher’s shop – rich, glistening, always beautifully seasoned and accompanied by the crispiest golden hand-cut chips, lamb’s lettuce, buttered spinach and a pot of nostril-tickling horseradish. The staff are fuss-free, the wine list interesting. Never boring, always met with enormous satisfaction, this is a warm, cosy foodie friend we are enormously sad to leave.
The BSG, however, has wasted no time and has already sent me the link to the Chamberlayne, a pub in the new neighbourhood whose focus is entirely on meat, and even better, meat sourced from our old friend Smithfield Market. A little bit of home from home then.
Our eyes are also dazzled by the shiny glass and lights of The Dock Kitchen which we’ve penned in the diary for a pre-Yuletide date. We’ll be just about ok I reckon.