News of the week
Michelin’s UK wing already curates one of the worst accounts on all of social media, so it is intriguing to see it take the plunge into the choppy waters of Instagram now, too — especially given that most of the images posted to the Twitter account aren’t exactly #pretty. Initial attempts post-launch confirm it’s more of the same, really; cack-handed My First Time Online caption and hashtag work, deeply irrelevant destinations, and — yep — truly atrocious image quality. Comprehensive self-immolation doesn’t get much better than this.
Thought-provoking question of the week
Michelin’s shoddy representation of dishes at restaurants it is supposedly championing jibes provocatively with a question raised by writer and restaurateur Jen Agg on Twitter this week. “What’s up with serious food critics having TERRIBLE Instagrams?” she asked. At least two of London’s finest swiftly mobilised to explain their accounts (and got brutally dunked on for their troubles); more broadly, though, it’s worth pondering in a little more depth. Does New York Times’ critic Pete Wells’ defence (“I don’t get paid to make restaurants look good. Photos are one way I take notes. When I post one, it’s raw work product”) really hold water? Does his follow-up — “I do think it’s a subcategory, with documentarian considerations taking priority over aesthetic ones” — feel like anything more than self-justification? Do critics have a duty to faithfully represent restaurants, and does this extend to making images look as nice as possible if the dish in question looked nice in the first place? Let’s ask Bloomberg’s Richard Vines...
Ubiquitous dish appearance of the week
Smoked cod’s roe — whipped, of course — has been the £4 snack dish de nos jours for so long that people barely bat an eyelid when it appears on the menu of Shoreditch’s latest darling, Brat. However, it’s a dish that has almost always appeared in a Modern British (whatever that means) context; it is striking to see it reimagined with an Anglo-Indian twist at Kricket.
Gamekeeper turned poacher of the week
Farewell, noted and talented journalist Emma Hughes; hello, influencer @emmahughes86. In fairness — helluva shot.
Opened the door in a truly revolting pair of pyjamas earlier to find a @fortnums delivery man bearing gifts. I was iffy about ruby chocolate as a concept, but having tried it I can see that it isn't a gimmick - it really does bring something to the table that milk, white and dark don't. Tangy, fruity and not nearly as sweet as it looks. Would eat again.
Photogenic flatfish of the week
For once, it’s not all about Brat. First up, Marina O’Loughlin, undermining that whole Jen Agg riff with a very beautiful-looking brill; next up, this absolute stunner from the ever-intriguing Ikoyi. Is it fair to say that Tomos Parry’s competition is looking… #turbotcharged?
Ikoyi London, April 2018. Turbot mini feast (for one), full ALC portions. -- 1. Head & collar, grilled and topped with spices, and some smoked greens, onion, on the side. 2. Tranche, roasted, Mbonga and okra. -- I am very excited to see fish head appear more regularly on London menus these days, because all the best bits are here! The cuisson is spot on, all the gelatinous bits sliding off the bone, and given the rich natural flavours, the spices do amazing things to temper it. I'd go as far to say it's the best fish head I've had in London. Comes close to many childhood memories of fish head curries back home. -- Good cook on the tranche, juicy and moist, on the bone or whole is the best way to cook turbot or any fish without question. I did have just some minor niggles as personally, I would have preferred skin on (rather than off) as there's alot of flavour (and gelationous fat) there, and also prefer it was pulled just a few degreeC cooler, for a slight blush of pink in the bones (to borrow Passard's "hot-raw”, swipe ) , rather than alll white bones. Never had Nigerian cuisine before, I don't have a reference point for the spices, so to me, the aromas definitely interest the palate. The turbot tranche was served with an aromatic squid ink sauce, but given the potency, it did overwhelm as I worked into the dish. I think it needs just some more salt and a touch of acidity for balance. Though it didn't detract from the overall epicness of this spread of Turbot. Who needs a tasting menu when this noble fish is served like this for £60. (Moan as much as you like bout the prices but River Cafe (and T Randall) do very good versions of Turbot tranche in their wood fire oven too) I love it when multiple cuts appear, hope more Chefs do this, it's like a throwback to assiette days, and what dining out ought to be about. #turbot #londonrestaurants @ikoyi_london @chinesebison
Laborious composition of the week
Flat lays from dizzy heights of the week
The late AA Gill famously loved The Wolseley; Lucian Freud did, too. It is certainly interesting, purely as a thought experiment, to imagine what these two members of the English establishment would have made of someone taking their mother there, only to stand up on a chair in the middle of the meal and photograph her mid-schnitzel. One might even venture to suggest that this was not the sort of conduct owners Chris Corbin and Jeremy King expected from their guests when they opened the place, Instagram not being a central element of the gemütlich Mitteleuropean café culture of yesteryear that they were seeking to evoke. But who really can say? Maybe Corbin and King love influencers, and spend most of their days working out how to get a neon YASS QUEEN selfie mirror installed in the loos. Perhaps the whole reason they sold their majority stake in the first place was to finally be free to join more @IGBrunchClub hangouts. They certainly know their way round a stack of pancakes.
Dish of the week
As Fergus himself might say: gosh.
Sacred geometry: Smoked Eel, Pickled Prune and Horseradish. A holy trinity. Such calm belies the complex, powerful flavour: "The vibrant punchy prune, the beautiful rich natural fat, the nostril-grazing horseradish to cut through it all. The perfect bite". Head Chef @jonathanwoolway says "the ingredients are so incredible, the less we have to do with it the better". On the menu at Smithfield this weekend. #horseradish #smokedeel #sacredgeometry #pickledprune #stjohnsmithfield
Shot of the week
Finally, the sun is out.