Luckily for me and my gentleman companion, we were invited (rather last minute on Twitter) to a one off Stripped Back lunch cooked by Ben Spalding at Redhook restaurant.
The set up was quite simple, a table in the middle of the restaurant seated about 20 diners but luckily for us there was a space at the end of the table where Ben and his team were preparing and serving the food, meaning me and my gentleman companion had a rather wonderful view.
In true Stripped Back style, we were seated underneath a market stall with a tarpaulin roof and we felt very excited that we could watch the dishes being prepared.
To start, we were given some black mulberry tea fizz which tasted sweet, bubbly and lovely.
What followed was two types of white bread and Ben’s signature yoghurt bread – all of which were delicious. The tangy yoghurt bread with the salty whipped butter being a real highlight.
Our first course was wild trout, sweetcorn cream, nectarine and bitter gourd juice. The dish was vibrant and even got me drinking from the bowl so I could swallow every bit of that beautifully sweet yet bitter juice. Every course was served in paper plates/bowls which was actually very fun and didn’t make me miss crockery one bit!
Our second course was pink fur potatoes with a smoked paprika cream cheese, kale dressing and seeds. I was shocked at how exciting Ben had made a plate of potatoes – they really were delicious. The potatoes had a crispy exterior, the pumpkin seeds added texture and the vibrantly green kale dressing was refreshing making this an excitingly tasty plate of food.
Next up was Cornish plaice, young October vegetables, shaved Brazil nuts and cider butter. This reminded me of the amazing plaice dish we received at the Ben Spalding and Rare Tea Lady dinner (also at Redhook). The fish was perfectly cooked and the sweet carrots worked wonderfully with the plaice. Seriously, seriously yummy.
The beef broth cooked for 12 hours with kimchi, Thai long beans and San Marzanos (a variety of plum tomatoes) was our favourite dish. It’s appearance was deceiving as it’s flavour was nothing short of phenomenal. It was a bowl of meaty rich and sweet tomatoey heaven – faultless in every possible way.
Every course was served with a perfectly matched wine – and at this point we were kindly brought a rather attractive jug filled with martini which went down extremely well – as you can imagine. It hit the spot just right!
As we started to feel rather drunk, our first of two desserts was served – hot bramley apple and lemongrass crumble with ice cold cream. Other than the lack of lemongrass this dessert was faultless. The bramley apples were in the form of a puree and were tangy and sweet which contrasted the crunchy crumble perfectly. Who doesn’t love a good crumble? And this was a seriously good one.
The second and final dessert was fennel steeped in aniseed, tonka bean cream, rapeseed cake and black cherry. The cake was sweet and chewy to the point of loveliness and the grapes brought a refreshing quality making this the perfect way to end a great meal.
What Ben once again proved was that he can cook unusual ingredients yet make them taste totally delicious – even if you’ve never tried them before. As we drunkenly waddled off down Turnmill Street we couldn’t help but think that this was a seriously impressive lunch.