Ekstedt on the Yard, London SW1: ‘A bit like consuming an precise plate of bonfire’ – restaurant evaluation | Meals

I stay in concern of an invitation “to see the kitchen”. It occurs usually once I’m reviewing, and the trustworthy reply is, “No, no, I do not need to meet a chef with a rictus grin and a cleaver, and whose final restaurant I helped to shut down.”

Nonetheless, at Niklas Ekstedt’s new place on the Nice Scotland Yard lodge in Westminster, I’m glad I discovered myself, straight out of the traps on track quantity one among a seven-course tasting menu, up shut and private with an oyster flambadou. If I’d not seen the medieval nature of Ekstedt’s cooking set-up with my very own eyes, I’d probably not have taken critically his declare to be cooking solely with hearth, and eschewing fuel and electrical energy completely. However then one sees the open, raging hearth, with cooks taking turns to boil beef fats, then dramatically pouring it from a top over some oysters earlier than dressing them with a pond-green nasturtium and beurre blanc dressing, and it’s all fairly magical.

Ekstedt on the Yard’s oysters with nasturtium and beurre blanc dressing: ‘Silky, bolshie and bucolic.’ {Photograph}: Karen Robinson/The Guardian

Ekstedt has taken root in London, though he’s already well-known in his native Sweden, the place in 2011 he opened Restaurant Ekstedt in Stockholm and the place his important pastime of “uncooked elements cooked over an open hearth” took form. A fast search of his picture throws up varied photographs of him in a soot-festooned bobble hat and having fun with the nice open air, or no less than setting hearth to it. There’s a Jorvik Viking Centre really feel a few Niklas Ekstedt kitchen, as should you’ve in some way wandered into a very lifelike tableau vivant of a blacksmith’s forge. There’s a firepit, wood-fired range and wood-fired oven. That oyster, by the way, was scrumptious, warmed via fairly than fried by the oil, with a silky, bolshily bucolic dressing.

If seven programs looks like a jail sentence – and extra of that later – you may go for simply three as a substitute, though the seven small however significant plates, plus varied intermittent snacks, isn’t by any means overly lengthy. In reality, it is a excellent date-night restaurant for diners who like being entertained by tales of venison hearts and vendace roe. It’s odd, a bit difficult, however by no means, ever boring, and, as evenings go whenever you’re held captive by a tasting menu, that is about nearly as good because it will get.

Lobster with caramelised cream and sweetcorn.
Ekstedt on the Yard’s lobster with caramelised cream and sweetcorn: ‘A beautiful, comforting buffer between all of the burning and bits of Bambi.’ {Photograph}: Karen Robinson/The Guardian

It’s in all probability price saying right here that the Nice Scotland Yard lodge is a fairly peculiar venue. Personally, I’m a fan, however its shtick is divisive. Right here’s a luxurious lodge that wishes, understandably, to capitalise on its cops and robbers historical past; the attractive hall that leads into Ekstedt, for example, options real jail artwork, transferring drawings by lonely criminals. The foyer, in the meantime, is opulent, dramatically lit and full of sculptures, olde-worlde bookcases and gigantic fronds. The cocktail bar is extra Gotham-esque than the precise themed Gotham cocktail bar only a mile down the highway. As Richard Burton as soon as stated of Elizabeth Taylor, it’s all “a bit bloody a lot”.

However then you definitely cross into Ekstedt’s lair, and he’s clearly stuffed a number of skips with gentle furnishings since the earlier residents of this house moved on. Out of the blue, it’s all uncovered brick, sage-green materials, mahogany shades and easy glassware from which to sip pure wines. I wasn’t consuming that night time, so as a substitute they supplied me a kombucha pairing menu – at £45 a head – which was an absolute hospitality first, with every course showing with a stranger, funkier, cloudier brew than the final. “This one tastes of toes!” I heard myself chirp at one stage. “Forty-five quid for a number of cans of pop?!?” I hear you all shout, however this was, in reality, a beautiful manner for non-boozers to really feel included.

So, sure, Ekstedt on the Yard, I’m a fan. With out wishing to spoil the expertise, let me reveal a few of the, ahem, journey. There’s a plate of nice, peppery reindeer charcuterie that may make it arduous to look Rudolph within the eye come December. There’s seared smoked venison coronary heart with a wood-oven flatbread and lingonberries. A baked or, extra precisely, fire-damaged leek turns up in a charcoal-flavoured cream with a thick layer of sunset-red vendace roe, and feels a bit like consuming an precise plate of bonfire, although not in an disagreeable manner. A follow-up course of lobster with caramelised cream and sweetcorn is reassuring, like a stunning buffer between all of the burning and bits of Bambi, however then we’re on to hay-smoked mallard with black pudding and turnip puree, which is overtly blood, smoke and ember yet again.

Cep souffle with pine-needle ice-cream.
Ekstedt on the Yard’s cep souffle with pine-needle ice-cream: ‘My favorite a part of the night.’ {Photograph}: Karen Robinson/The Guardian

My favorite a part of the night, nonetheless, was the mole-coloured cep souffle pudding. Sure, it tasted of mushroom, there’s no getting round that, however that was offset by a gooey layer of untamed blueberry and a pine-needle ice-cream that my coronary heart nonetheless burns for. Thoughts you, every thing smelled barely of scrumptious smoke afterwards. I’ll by no means do away with my fuel hob, however it’s curiously comforting that there’s a Swedish bloke in Westminster who’d fortunately see the world burn.

Ekstedt on the Yard, 3-5 Nice Scotland Yard, London SW1, 020-7925 4700. Open Tues-Fri, 5-10.30pm, Sat 3-10.30pm. Tasting menus solely, three programs for £75 or seven for £135, each plus drinks and repair.

Grace’s Consolation Consuming podcast returns on 26 October for a second collection. Episode one stars Stephen Fry. Pay attention right here or wherever you get your podcasts.

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