Above: Be still my beating (lamb's) heart...
Last night was another stellar night by Young Turks James Lowe and Isaac McHale and their front of house compatriots The Clove Club. This time, the lads took over Frank's Cafe and Campari Bar on the 10th floor of a parking lot in Peckham. Finding our way up to the roof was a slightly surreal Bladerunner-esque experience, complete with a gang of langourous bicycle-polo players silently weaving about on the 6th floor. I half wondered if they were yet another art installation, like the others scattered about the concrete space that smelled of both chlorine and pee.
The inspiration for cusine for the evening was old school Turkish ocakbasi / grill. The approach was decidedly Young Turks (go here, here and here and you'll get the idea); and the weather MOST decidedly old school British.
So the tarp was slightly leaky, and our bums were slightly damp, and apparently the chefs were going a bit bonkers because they only had 1 pair of tongs to share between them. But if you have a negroni or a rose sangria in hand, and folks like the madcap Lizzie, Euwen and Jessica to banter with, you'd be delightfully distracted as well.
And then there was the food.
Chefs James and Isaac are eager to start their own restaurants soon. And while I've been looking forward to that day for a while, last night was the first time I was consciously annoyed that these restaurants don't yet exist. C'mon, gents, hurry the hell up already. Where do I go to get a regular fix of this stuff?!
To start, soft, warm and flavourful rye bread with aubergine and smoked cod's roe purees. We were this close to nicking extra bread from latecomers' tables.
Cured pork fat and cobnuts. Just... stunning. Apparently there were a few fusspots health nuts seated nearby, who thought this dish was downright disgusting. We vultured their abandoned plate with delight. Thanks for the swipe-and-share Lizzie!
Buttermilk fried chicken thigh nuggets and pine salt. Our end of the table was missing 1 nugget, but when the extras came we were very tempted to chuck our bowl off the side of the building and claim that no nuggets had yet come at all.
Radishes with black sesame and gochujang (Korean hot pepper paste) mayonnaise. Be sure to eat the leaves et al!
Fennel, nasturtium, cucumber and mackeral dressing. Lovely, light and balanced.
Grilled onion, redcurrent and pickled elderberries. A Young Turks take on an old Turkish dish of onions with pomegranate molasses.
Not the best photo, but there was physical violence afoot if I didn't snap these chicken skin and mead skewers any faster!
I realise now I didn't manage to get a photo of the grilled leaks with XO sauce. I do remember they were damn tasty, though I think they could stand to be charred a bit more.
And now to the meats. Here's lamb's heart in flat bread, sheep's yoghurt and anchovy. It occured to me that up till now I'd only eaten chicken hearts. These sliced lamb hearts had a lovely spiced spongy bite. Gorgeous. Each of us got a section of roll. I would've been happy to eat a whole roll by myself!
BBQ pork belly, molasses and fennel blossom. Soft, silken, smoky, sweet, savoury. In between slow considered mouthfuls I looked bemusedly at one of my dining companions and confessed, "I'm sorry. I know you're saying something to me. But I can't actually hear anything you're saying."
And the much-discussed-during-the-week handmade grouse sausages, with damson and bread sauce. I'd never had grouse before, and over the last week various folks were poo-poohing it because of its gamey taste. As far as these sausages went, anyway, grouse to me tasted like pork. It can't be a bad thing for something to taste like pork, can it? I sure as heck could stand to eat more than 1 of these sausages at one go. I reckon it's time to try some grouse on the bone.
Dessert: Mulberry jelly (foraged from South London, so the gossip goes), raspberries and hazelnut mousse. Absolutely delightful. And quite colour coordinated with our red tarp and brown benches dining room for the evening. Thanks for being my hand model EuWen!
To finish, the traditional £2 round of Poire Williams being shopped around by The Clove Club's ever charming Daniel.
As always, a toast to the Young Turks and The Clove Clubs. I guess I'll have to skulk around the Turkish grills of Dalston and Stoke Newington until their next gig...
The Young Turks Ocakbasi at Frank's ends tonight (24 August) at £26 per person. Drinks are available at Frank's open cash-only bar. Stay tuned to the Young Turks and The Clove Club for updates on their next gigs ...
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Disclosure: I'm the founder of Edible Experiences. Unless otherwise mentioned, I attend events as a paying guest.