GRACE AND FLAVOUR
A woozy Grace Dent is chased down the King’s Road after a joyful Japanese at
One of the first questions anyone asks about Grace and Flavour if they meet me at a party — after suggesting I take them for a free dinner — is: ‘Do you choose where to go or do they?’ I’m not sure why people’s minds always flip to this grey administrative query, but I know eyes glaze over when I give the wishy-washy response that it’s a bit of both.
With my trip to Kurobuta, a pop-up Japanese spot at the far end of the King’s Road, soon to have a permanent base in Marble Arch, I can assure you it was a ‘they’. A chilly January evening, an impermanent café where Australians are cooking Japanese in the land of red jeans, and a 40-minute journey from my front door on an evening I already had a very crucial night planned fluffing the dog’s ears while telling her she is a beautiful princess at least 345 times.
However, if ‘they’ hadn’t prodded me, I would probably have missed Kurobuta and this would have been a travesty because I’ve wanged on about the place to every human being I’ve met since I paid the bill and stumbled out, refreshed on sake, and the waitress had to chase me up the King’s Road with a pair of shoes. I can’t be the only woman who regularly leaves shoes in restaurants. I have shoes to travel and shoes ‘to be’ and after two lychee cocktails and a large Silent Forest sake things can get confusing. This was one of the most perfectly conjured, pleasing dinners I’ve eaten. We started with a glorious plate of yellowtail sashimi with kizami wasabi salsa and yuzu-soy, then a satisfying whack of beef fillet tataki with onion ponzu and garlic crisps. Plates are small, made for sharing (in theory), and arrive screaming of freshness and a love of devilish detail. But do take your most accommodating credit card because Kurobuta not only has an ex-Nobu head chef but, at times, Nobu prices and it’s ridiculously easy to let these tiny plates of joy mount up. For example, two little Wagyu beef sliders in brioche buns with umami mayo come at £19 for the pair, which I ate in a rapid
This isn’t unctuous noodles at Koya or glossy plates of black cod at Nobu. It’s not sashimi with a view at Sushisamba or aloofly authentic like Yashin. It’s just a café, at the moment a pop-up held together here and there with string, firing out great food and cocktails. The fact that we have all these places to eat Japanese in London should be kept in mind every time one thinks of moving to the middle of nowhere where the height of your excitement will be concocting something exotic from Sharwood noodles and soy sauce.
After sake we moved on to a cocktail called The Green Bastard. By this point things were deliciously woozy and I was reminded of one of my favourite stories about the now-defunct pub The Man in the Moon, which sat close to Kurobuta on a corner, and thus had three different entrances. One night a very hammered man fell through the door and was ejected swiftly by the manager, only to appear through another door and be slung out again. As he appeared through the final door and felt the familiar hand on his shoulder, he slurred at the manager: ‘Sir, do you own all the pubs on the King’s Road?’ I thought about this as the waitress gave me my shoes. The King’s Road can be rather jolly.