Is it possible to consume too much Omega 3? If it is, I’ve done it. After spending the first ten days of this month rabidly consuming the contents of the Adriatic sea, I then flitted off to the slightly less glamorous Brixham, where you’re just as likely to find a bag of frozen chicken wings in the ocean as you are any kind of aquatic life (true story).
I was partly down there to chat to the fishermen about a story that will be in the September issue of Foodism, but I was also there to dip a toe into the Mitch Tonks empire, visiting both Rockfish and The Seahorse in our quick stay. Blessed as we were with glorious weather, the terrace at Rockfish Brixham saw a lot of me, and the restaurant’s casual take on seafood is perfect for dining on the terrace, watching the fishing boats come and go. I could run you through everything on the menu, but there was one thing in particular that I have been thinking about since and will be ordering to my house: the anchoiade. It’s basically just mayonnaise imbued with a salty, umami hit from anchovies and capers but Christ, it’s good. I had it on everything: bread, fries, fish, crispy squid – even salt and vinegar crisps (shout out to Ben at Pesky Fish for that genius invention).
The highlight of the trip (aside from some incredible Dexter beef steaks courtesy, again, of Frazer and Ben at Pesky Fish) was a meal at The Seahorse in Dartmouth. I have a love/hate relationship with visiting new places and falling in love with restaurants, because while the experience is obviously lovely, I come back wishing I could pick them up and transplant them next to my house. The issue is, I’m not sure the siren-soundtracked roads of Bethnal Green are quite a match for the bobbing boats on the River Dart. This is basically a long-winded way of saying that my meal at The Seahorse was one of the best I’ve had in recent memory. The menu is simple, kicking things off with a selection of seafood-leaning, Italian-accented starters, before heading into the main courses which focus almost exclusively on fish grilled over fire accompanied by a series of simple-yet-effective sides.
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The kitchen is helmed by Tonks’s son, Ben. He has taken the reins of the kitchen at The Seahorse over the last few years bringing an approach that centres incredible ingredients and modern food trends without losing the classic feel that makes The Seahorse so special. Things kicked off with Chesil Beach oysters (paired with possibly the best shallot vinaigrette I’ve ever had), simple marinated artichoke hearts, calamari fritti, scallops with garlic and parsley butter and breadcrumbs and delicate red prawns, that were incredible in their sweetness, just a drizzle of oil and a squeeze of lemon needed to bring them to life.
This is probably the extent of the cheffery done here – but that is not to say that the main courses don’t require an immense level of skill. It’s just that Ben and the team are smart enough to let the fish do the talking. There was salt baked sea bass, grilled monkfish – definitely the best I’ve had – and charred red mullet. They were accompanied by a simple tomato and caper salad and braid haricot beans with rosemary. It takes a chef lacking in ego but full of talent to do such incredible things with so little. The entire meal was a testament to the power of letting the ingredients do the talking. It was a joy.
A. Wong is one of the capital’s best restaurants, and a decade after transforming his family’s restaurant Andrew Wong isn’t skipping a beat
Back in London I was lucky enough to head to A.Wong to try their new Five Movements menu. Designed in collaboration with a historian, the menu aims to emulate how they ate during the Imperial banquets that were popularised throughout the Qing dynasty. I’m not sure anyone needs me to rave on too long about how great it was – Andrew Wong has long proven that A.Wong is one of the capital’s best restaurants, and a decade after transforming his family’s restaurant he still isn’t skipping a beat.
The new menu, though, offers such a specific culinary journey. It pulls in some of the classic dishes from the restaurant’s menus both past and present – like smashed cucumbers or the delicate, wafer-thin xiao long bao – while anchoring this specific way of eating in a unique part of China’s culinary history.
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The arrival of sunnier weather and long evenings has got me attempting to eat outside as much as possible, and on warm days going forward you can probably find me on the Toklas terrace. I had a lovely lunch there to celebrate the opening of the outdoor space recently and the restaurant quickly notched itself up onto my list of go-to spots. Opened by Amanda Sharp and Matthew Slotover – who you may know better as the founders of Frieze – it is an unsurprisingly arresting space that is quiet in its stylistic achievements and subtly impressive when it comes to the food. The kitchen is helmed by Yohei Furuhashi, formerly of The River Café and Dinings SW3, and you can see large doses of the former in his food, but with a fresh approach that anchors it. Perhaps fittingly, the dish of clams with peas and sourdough croutons looked almost like a piece of art (and, thankfully, tasted as good as it looked).
I’m an enormous börek fan anyway, but Spasia Dinkovski’s creations are something special
In a fortnight of eating as good as this it might surprise you to know that the best thing I ate is not even mentioned above. A very close friend of mine celebrated her 30th last week (that same day when it was 35 degrees in London), and between bouts of aggressively fanning myself and dabbing at my sweaty face, I managed to feast on enormous slices of börek from Mystik Börek. Fillings ranged from lamb, smoked honey, onions, and sumac potatoes to slow cooked brisket, creamed spinach and parmesan, and they were incredible. I’m an enormous börek fan anyway, but Spasia Dinkovski’s creations are something special – utilising inventive flavour combinations and expertly constructed so that they remain whole with every bite, despite their towering, filling-packed height.
Also, I’ve eaten more mini twisters over the last two weeks than I’m willing to admit (and definitely more than is healthy). They’re so small and so easy to scoff and before you know it the whole lolly (or box, as the case may be) is gone. At this point I think they’re making up about 50% of my diet. I’m yet to discover why they’re so much better than the full sized ones but when I do I’ll report back.