East.. of London
East London is home to many cool people and happenings. In Elizabethan England actor-entrepreneur James Burbage found success in The Theatre (before dismantling it and moving on to inaugurating what is now known as Shakespeare’s Globe). In Victorian England, Jack the Ripper found whores to murder in the environ of The 10 Bells. Emily Pankhurst, in the early 20th century, found an office in Bow to put into actions her suffragist ideals. After WWII, multinational immigrants found home in London’s East. A few decades later, thanks to those immigrants, artists Gilbert & George found a restaurant that has ever since become their daily dining spot. Most recently we found the
inconvenience of London 2012. And I have found joy in Eastenders and two cool spots to eat..
Burnt Enz is a grill restaurant that pops it up at the uniquely laid back Climpson & Sons Roastery, and it has, by now, won raves from London’s food enthusiasts and prompted wicked collaborations with UK’s best young talents (i.e. Junya Yamasaki of Koya, James Knappett of Bubbledogs& and Ben Spalding formerly of Roganic). The project itself is manned by Dave Pynt, who comes from Australia, via the internationally acclaimed kitchen of Asador Extebarri, off San Sebastian (Spain), and has been instrumental in the setup of Nuno Mendes’s The Loft Project.
At Burnt Enz, Dave does nothing but grill. (Well, he may, allegedly, help clean up). You may expect very little grilled things (say, scallops) to very massive grilled things (say, a whole turbot or a suckling pig). And Dave’s philosophy is to stay true to Spanish “asador” spirit, where the grill is done over charcoal fire and the flame is masterly adjusted according to the ingredients.
Burnt Enz operates an a la carte menu at weekends and/or pre-paid “Thirty Thursday Feast” dinners. (My meal below – £45 & BYO – was part of the latter system). The dishes on offer change regularly, on the basis of best available British produce. I was greeted with fresh oysters and lime, and once seated, a platter of charred fennel bulbs was served alongside torn burrata and orange-infused oil. The fennel was gently grilled in low heat and achieved tender but biteful texture. The aroma from the applewood char and the fennel’s very mild aniseed-y taste married pleasingly with the citric orange essence. The burrata, loosened up by the heat, was melting-ly gorgeous. Then came the huge stack of bone marrow with watercress salad and lightly toasted bread. This was a testament to Dave’s highly commendable grilling skills. The bone was well encased by heat but not to the point that the marrow melted. The results were the perfect wobble (when the marrow was forked out) and the delightfully burnt gelatinous skin. The beefy grease from the marrow was nicely countered by the peppery leaves.
Sea breams were also grilled to divinity, boasting the crispy skin that separated and the meat that flaked beautifully. The salsa verde provided herbal acidity that elevated the breams’s natural juicy sweetness. The side of courgettes – also grilled – came with fragrant burnt enz (pun intended). Watery. Sweet. And explosive. They cleansed the palate well. The parade of savoury dishes concluded with lamb shoulders that were as big and buffed as Louise Smith’s. (Sorry I can’t find as fitting a comparison. And sorry for having no photo of either). The heat-blasted skin and trimmed fat (of the lamb, not the gymnast) was crackling. The meat within was robust and moist. It found finishing touches in a comfortingly good mint sauce, lamb jus and broan beans.
Burnt Enz may be finishing its pop-up period at The Climpsons’ Roastery very soon. (Dates here). But Dave and his flame will still be the ONE to watch!
RITA’S BAR AND DINING
Rita’s Dining, currently taking residence at Birthdays in Dalston, is a collaborative food-and-drink project by REAL GOLD, Jackson Boxer of Brunswick Cafe, Gabriel Pryce and Missy Flynn. This venue is an industrial sort of bar. Think a cluster of low tables and a mismatch of metallic and vintage school chairs. (To feel comfortable when sandwiched between those two items, you will need either flaccid thighs or small balls). No air-con. Raging degrees of hipsters, really. It was a fun crowd, nonetheless.
The food served was redone South American – fried chicken rolls, tacos, beans and some patty melt. The price range was kind, between £4-£6.50. After a lengthy wait I settled for Patty Melt (£5), Ox Heart Taco (£5), Fried Chicken Roll (£6.50), Green Chilli Mac&Cheese (£5), and Pulled Pork & Duck Heart Baked Beans (£5). The Patty Melt filling of minced beef laced with bone marrow and finished with cheese and onion jam could have made a lovely foil against toasted bread. The patty, in my case, was lacking in quantity and therefore did not have much of a melting effect. For the taco, I enjoyed the zingy dressing, but the ox heart was overcooked and the homemade tortilla wrap (authentic tasting) was quite thick and doughy. The chicken roll, arriving in a Rita’s-stamped paper bag, was SUBLIME. The chicken was expertly coated and even more expertly fried. The crumb-y coating was grease-free, crispy and toothsome, while the meat inside oozed heat but retained perfect moisture and tenderness. It was served encased by a white crusty, with a smearing of cayenne pepper infused mayo and shredded iceberg lettuce, to taunt my palate with filthy, saliva-induced piquancy. UTTER BRILLIANCE. Sadly, this redemptive moment did not last long. The kitchen seemed to have missed chilli and cheese in my Mac&Cheese. The result was dry macaroni with quite a bit of oil. The baked bean dish was also left in the oven for far too long, and all the elements landed in front of us dry and overcooked. TOB fiddled with them a little, and we agreed to order one more round of the fried chicken roll. Overall, Rita’s showed promises, but the execution during my visit was flawed.
The Climpsons’ Roastery
RITA’S BAR AND DINING
33-35 Stoke Newington Road