CHEF’S TRAV­EL­OGUE

Kirk Ha­worth, ex­ec­u­tive chef of Plates, shows why Lon­don’s plant based din­ing scene is heat­ing up.

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Lon­don’s plant-based din­ing scene

Is­tarted to eat a plant-based diet my­self when I was di­ag­nosed with Lyme dis­ease in 2014, and be­came un­be­liev­ably in­trigued with the power of fruits and veg­eta­bles. I spent a lot of time learn­ing about and un­der­stand­ing their nu­tri­tional val­ues and more, and the way they work in the body when con­sumed.

And over the years, Lon­don’s plant based scene has evolved into some­thing ex­cit­ing – more and more restau­rants that are not even plant based are adding in­ter­est­ing plant menus to their restau­rants. It’s so fast and pro­gres­sive here in the city that the vegetable scene just keeps on get­ting bet­ter.

GREEN IS THE NEW BLACK

CUB in Hox­ton is my new favourite and they do a fan­tas­tic ve­gan menu. A col­lab­o­ra­tive project be­tween Ryan Chetiyawar­dana and ex­ec­u­tive chef Doug Mc­mas­ter, the din­ner-only restau­rant of­fers a sea­sonal six-course zero-waste veg­e­tar­ian feast. My favourite dish is the Chervil Roots. Th­ese but­tery lit­tle stubs are lay­ered with miso, ap­ples and ‘turbo whey’ which they get from Neal’s Yard (it’s a by-prod­uct of cheese-mak­ing that would oth­er­wise go down the drain). The whole thing is creamy, savoury and uber umami. Other no­table dishes are the de­con­structed Tomato Salad, ac­com­pa­nied with mus­cat grapes and lemon ver­bena-brined green toma­toes; and Sh­rooms on Sh­rooms, king oys­ter mush­room served three ways – roasted, raw and boiled.

On the corner of New­ing­ton Green, with floor-to-ceil­ing win­dows that look out onto the chang­ing leaves in the park, Per­illa is a plant-filled, stripped-back, earth-toned ho­mage to sea­sonal cook­ing. There’s a warm­ness to its min­i­mal­ism, with glass light fix­tures, mid-cen­tury-mod­ern chairs and chunky wooden ta­bles that in­vite long lazy lunches. But it’s the food that re­ally steals the show. In­ven­tive twists on clas­sic Euro­pean dishes are served up by head chef and co-owner Ben Marks, who held coveted po­si­tions at Noma, Stock­holm’s Oper­akäl­laren and Clar­idge’s be­fore launch­ing Per­illa Din­ing as a pop-up with his busi­ness part­ner Matthew Em­mer­son. The star of their menu is the in­cred­i­ble Onion & Chest­nut, a de­li­ciously sweet burnt-onion soup pre­sented in a singed whole onion.

Though Al­le­gra may not be a veg­e­tar­ian restau­rant, head chef Pa­trick Pow­ell does a mean veg­e­tar­ian ra­men – com­bin­ing cele­riac and kombu, Pow­ell then cooks it for four hours to achieve a light, tan­ta­lis­ing broth. De­signed by Space Copen­hagen, the in­door din­ing space fea­tures fresh, mild tones of green and warm grey, il­lu­mi­nated by Al­le­gra’s floor to ceil­ing win­dows and framed by a nat­u­ral stone Mont­pel­lier floor. There is also a herb gar­den in the restau­rant where din­ers are en­cour­aged to bring some back home.

TO THE MAR­KET

Lon­don’s old­est food mar­ket, Bor­ough Mar­ket is one of my favourite places to visit. As soon as you en­ter the vicin­ity of the mar­ket you will be bom­barded with all sorts of smells, sights and sounds that ig­nite all the senses. There’s in­ter­na­tional cui­sine from nearly ev­ery corner of the world (most im­ported from abroad), and street ven­dors sell­ing ev­ery­thing from paella, and

duck wraps, to Thai co­conut pan­cakes. Out of all the ar­eas in the Bor­ough Mar­ket, the Three Crown Square is the mar­ket’s largest trad­ing area – that’s where you will find me – and fo­cuses specif­i­cally on fruits and veg­eta­bles, cheeses, meats and fishes. Pro tip: If you want to avoid the crowds but still want to see the Bor­ough Mar­ket in its en­tirety, try to visit on a Wed­nes­day or Thurs­day af­ter­noon, or as soon as it opens on a Satur­day.

One of Lon­don’s most vis­ually ap­peal­ing mar­kets, Columbia Road over­flows with buck­et­fuls of beau­ti­ful flow­ers ev­ery Sun­day. From 8am to 3pm, mar­ket traders line the nar­row street sell­ing flow­ers, house­plants, herbs, bulbs and shrubs. It’s worth shop­ping around, so don’t be afraid to barter and pre­pare for it to get very busy. The mar­ket is pop­u­lar with lo­cals and tourists and dur­ing the mid­day rush is rammed with peo­ple el­bow­ing their way to that per­fect pot plant. If you can’t bear crowds or just want to guar­an­tee the pick of the crop, ar­rive when the mar­ket opens.

When you’ve bought your blooms, head be­hind the stalls and down side streets to find cute cafés, in­de­pen­dent restau­rants, delis, shops, an­tique deal­ers, vin­tage stalls and small gal­leries, many of which fol­low the mar­ket’s open­ing hours. Pop into Jones Dairy Cafe for or­ganic and lo­cal pro­duce, treat your­self to a no-frills Bri­tish bake at Trea­cle or sink a lo­cally brewed pint at the Nel­son’s Head. Pro tip: For a bar­gain, visit when the mar­ket is wind­ing down (around 2 to 3pm) be­cause that’s when the traders re­duce their prices to shift the re­main­ing stock.

Bor­ough Mar­ket is the one-stop spot for any­thing kitchen-re­lated

Fresh veg­eta­bles from the lo­cal farm­ers

After win­ning the North West Young Chef of the Year award at 17, Kirk Ha­worth’s ca­reer has in­volved work­ing un­der the world’s top chefs and cel­e­brated restau­rants; in­clud­ing Miche­lin­starred The French Laun­dry, Restau­rant Sat Bains, The Square, The Quay and North­cote. In 2016, a di­ag­no­sis of Lyme Dis­ease led him to over­haul his life­style and ex­plore a plant­based diet in pur­suit of health. After dis­cov­er­ing that an anti-in­flam­ma­tory diet with­out meat, gluten, re­fined sugar or dairy im­pacted the in­ten­sity of his symp­toms, the Plates food ethos was born. With a fo­cus on sus­tain­abil­ity for peo­ple and the planet, Ha­worth is now be­com­ing a lead­ing fig­ure in Bri­tish plant­based cook­ery and is spear­head­ing a mis­sion to im­prove chefs’ well­ness in the wider in­dus­try.

Potato Miso Waf­fle from CUB

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