If you’re reading this, it’s too late: you’re about to cast aside the prospect of living a healthier lifestyle in favour of fried food. And, honestly? You won’t be sorry once you’ve bitten into one of these unusual, crispy creations fresh from the deep fat fryer.
At a handful of eateries championing British cuisine, it’s all about reinventing old classics. Cafe Cecilia’s deep fried bread and butter pudding, sprinkled with sugar and served with cold custard, is Instagram famous for a reason, while at Mount Street Restaurant there’s crisped-up bubble and squeak with HP sauce hollandaise, and St John Marylebone is plating up a sizzling version of its gooey, classic Welsh rarebit.
Elsewhere, restaurants are focusing on corrupting an array of humble veg. Chinese-inspired crunchy spinach leaves are topped with yoghurt, pomegranate, date and tamarind sauce at Indo-Chinese Fatt Pundit, while Fat Hippo and Dai Chi both offer variations of the fried pickle, and at Club Mexicana, chefs are rehydrating super spicy morita peppers before giving them the dunk.
Keep an eye on the specials board at Rochelle Canteen, which has been offering golden bites of sliced potato with haddock alongside grebiche (a tangy, chopped egg sauce), and the menu up at Four Legs for fried pollock with a horseradish and beetroot condiment. And last but not least, for ultimate indulgence try Gloria’s deep-fried calzones, Norma’s spaghettini (a slightly thinner spaghetti) fritters with parmesan dip, and TayÄr & Elementary’s (Number 2 in the World’s 50 Best Bars list, FYI) version of the corn dog, containing a cocktail sausage, chorizo and comté cheese. What are you waiting for? It’s crunch time.
A POTTED HISTORY OF... SEARCYS
At the ripe old age of 175, this grande dame of the London party scene has seen rather a lot. Dreamt up by confectioner John Searcy in 1847, Searcys became the go-to party starter for Victorian London, offering food, wine and elaborate sweet treats he’d perfected while working for the Duke and Duchess of Northumberland for a decade previously. After gaining momentum regaling aristocrats and socialites with extravagant soirées, in 1870 Searcy received the royal warrant and was given the title ‘John Searcy, confectioner to HRH the Prince of Wales and wine merchant.’ In 1893 the company began producing its own brand of champagne, and in 1896, Searcy popped out of retirement to craft a five-tier wedding cake for Princess Maud, daughter of King Edward VII. In 1939, more than 40 years after Searcy’s passing, the company was told not to cease work, and instead hosted daily ‘morale-boosting’ National Service lunch concerts at the National Gallery. Eventually, Searcys opened its own party palace in 1963 at 30 Pavilion Road, where Elizabeth Taylor, Richard Burton and Michael Jackson had been known to while away an evening. A spot at the Barbican and Vintners Hall followed, before Searcys afternoon tea was brought to life in 2004 and venues at the Gherkin, St Pancras and Pall Mall have since joined the ranks. Despite a looming recession, this year sees the brand unveil a new bar at Battersea Power Station. Though with a glimpse at its history, the institution should be able to weather the storm…
Grab chef Farokh Talati’s debut cookbook Parsi: From Persia to Bombay, for brilliant recipes gathered from his family kitchens and travels, as well as an education on the ancient culture. Sold? Keep an eye on @123farokh for one-off supper clubs, too. £26 (Bloomsbury)
Douglas Blyde discovers a wild new bourbon
A new bourbon has landed on our shores. No, Never Say Die is not a Bond film but a spirit named in honour of a Kentucky-bred racehorse which, following a traumatic birth, was revived with a shot of bourbon and went on to win the Epsom Derby in front of the Queen and Winston Churchill. ‘We wanted to create a totally new product,’ says co-founder Martha Dalton, who (sidenote) once helped carry Amy Winehouse over the mud backstage after her 2004 Glastonbury set.
According to Dalton, ‘Never Say Die is the first Kentucky straight bourbon that is both ocean-aged then matured in the UK.’ After four years and 10 months of maturation in Kentucky, the first batch undertook a six-week voyage before being taken to White Peak Distillery, Derbyshire, to further mature. ‘We loved the care and passion they lavish on their products at the distillery, which makes it the perfect home for Never Say Die.’
Having been exposed to three different climates, the spirit opens with buoyant blood orange notes that meld into an evocation of a Walnut Whip. ‘My favourite way is to sip it neat, or in a Boulevardier,’ advises Dalton. Don’t forget to look out for visual cues on the bottle, including the horseshoe in the base. Yeehaw.
Get down to the Walworth Road for Retan, a French-inspired supper club by chefs Cameron Dewar and Josh Dallaway, nestled in Louie Louie for the next three months. On Tuesdays, try ‘hot pot’ dishes such as Sussex courgette chasseur or braised Herdwick lamb shoulder for a jolly good £12.50. (@retanlondon)