I think it would be near impossible to kick off a fortnight of eating any better than with a meal that consisted of not one but three Kudu venues. Writing about food may be my job, but my comparatively short amount of time living in London (3.5 years) and I are no match for the living, breathing beast that is the city’s restaurant scene. It seems every time I tick one spot off my must-visit list, another three appear in its place.
This is all a very long way of saying I had never been to any of the Kudu venues before, something that is evidently an enormous oversight. It can be easy to become a little dazed in this job, eating so much incredible food that it becomes harder and harder to impress. So, when a place really sticks out and shines like Kudu did, it does make you sit up and pay attention. First up was Kudu Grill, where potato flatbread with wild garlic and a translucent shaving of lardo was simplicity at its best, the wild garlic signalling the arrival of sunnier days. Cape Malay crab with avocado mousse and wafer thin paaper bites (shards of leftover samosa pastry) was one of those dishes I'm still thinking about nearly two weeks later. A friend of mine was talking to me about hyper-regional fusion cuisines recently and Cape Malay came up in conversation. It’s a fascinating amalgamation of food cultures and this plate of food seems to personify it, the curry undertones making for a moreish dish that I couldn’t stop scooping up.
View on Instagram
Harissa beef tartare arrived with a nest of tangled fried shallots on top, the harissa providing a subtle kick while the coriander sauce sang with an enlivening brightness. There isn’t much more to be said about the grilled peri peri prawns than the fact that I wanted to take a pottle of that sauce home with a spoon. Then it was a brisk walk to Kudu, working up an appetite for onglet with truffled potato mousse, which was as good as it sounds and left plates practically wiped clean by the end of it.
The weekend brought with it unseasonable warmth. A rare sunny Saturday is best spent in a pub garden, so I took advantage of the balmy weather (yes, I was absolutely reeled in by Fools Spring) and got my pale arms out to check out Belly, the new kitchen residency at The Compton Arms (and one that is stepping into the very large shoes left behind by Four Legs). The team’s predecessors were famed for their cheeseburger, the mere whiff of a Dexter patty being immediately associated with Four Legs, so it takes big balls for Belly to put a cheeseburger of its own on the menu. It was good, but the other dishes were more exciting; caponata with tuna, chicken schnitzel smeared with a hefty dollop of punchy garlic aioli, purple sprouting broccoli delicately draped over a mound of tahini sauce and covered in a blizzard of parmesan. It seems The Compton Arms is a culinary destination once again – thankfully, because it is without a doubt one of London’s best pubs.
View on Instagram
Speaking of restaurants I’ve never been to before, I have somehow never found myself in the meatopia that is Blacklock, something I very happily remedied on Monday evening. Pre-chop bites were a palate cleanser in the best of ways, but it was the cull yaw crumpet that I left dreaming about. I’ve waxed lyrical many times about Matt Chatfield’s amazing work down in Cornwall and, even more, the benefits of regenerative farming as the way forward for the food industry, but it does help to be so passionate about it when the product itself is so damn good. Kudos to Blacklock for serving it in a way I haven’t seen before. The namesake cut of meat was as good as expected with liberally salted meat and perfectly rendered, crispy passages of fat that made messily gnawing away at the bones an absolute joy. Dessert was practically compulsory and the cheesecake is top of the list, although it’s definitely dangerous to dish out something that good tableside. I had to hold onto my seat to stop myself chasing the waitress down for a few more dollops of the stuff.
The week continued on a very high note, with two interviews for some upcoming exciting additions to the Foodism website that happened to be accompanied by some bloody good food. The Quo Vadis eel sandwich seemed to put everything right for a brief moment (that could have been the eye-wateringly strong horseradish blasting away any cobwebs in my brain) while the seafood cocktail at Bentley's the following day quickly found itself added to my final meal menu. It is a grand, arresting, oceanic pile of a thing that seems to epitomise ingredient-led dining, allowing the crustaceans to shine in all their glory with just a whisper of mayonnaise and a drizzle of lemon juice to accompany them.
View on Instagram
This was a week of incredible food, but it ended in distinctly Molly style – making drunk food with a very limited pantry offering. Opting for toast ‘pizzas’ I asked my partner to grate some cheese while I fried up the bacon and turned around five minutes later to see him labouring away on a nutmeg grater that had come out of a christmas cracker because he ‘couldn’t find the proper one’ (unsurprisingly it was located in the first drawer I opened). Hastily hoovered up on the couch, bellies sore from laughing so hard at the pint-sized grater, it may have just been the best meal I had all week.