2022 – Toklas, London: “Makes up great French fries” – Restaurant review | a meal

Toklas, 1 Surrey Street, London WC2R 2ND (020 2930 8592). Starters £8-16, mains £17-27, desserts £5-9, wine £28

Cookbook by Alice B, first published in 1954, includes instructions for making hashs within many of the recipes. It’s easy to make, Toklas says, but cautions that it may encourage hysterical laughter and great ideas “on many levels at once.” When the London restaurant that bears her name first opened late last year, its owners, who are also the founders of frieze Art magazines and galleries said she was very inspired by Toklas, author and partner of Gertrude Stein. Together, Stein and Toklas hosted many elaborate dinner parties in Paris, attended by some of the greatest artists of the early 20th century. However, the restaurant’s owners said the new venture won’t use any of the recipes in the book. So this is not retail nonsense.

do not worry. Because instead, Toklas has his chips that are more than capable of inspiring a lot of great ideas on several levels at once. For example: “Damn, it’s good” and “Why is it so good?” and “How do you make it so good?” In the middle of the main course, just before calling for second help, I walked into the semi-open kitchen and chased the mid-service chefs for answers. I’m sure they were thrilled to see me.

Served with rossa sauce: chicken with chickpeas. Photo: Sophia Evans/The Observer

It turns out that they use a version of Heston Blumenthal’s triple-cooking method. Thinly slice the potatoes (as opposed to the shape favored by chunky Blumenthal) and cook (rather than boiled) for 20 minutes. They are cooled and fried at 140°C, then cooled again and finished over a higher heat. The result is truly the platonic ideal of a wafer: golden, rough, smooth on the inside but crunchy. Oh so crunchy. And salty. And unlike some, they don’t seem to satiate the appetite. It costs £5 for a full bowl. I urge you, if you eat it, to be envious of that prize.

The phrase “serving great chips” might sound like the proverbial curse with quiet praise. Nothing like that. Given its origins in the art world, you’d be forgiven for worrying that Toklas was a conceptual reinterpretation of the very concept of the restaurant. True, he is able to be painfully wonderful. Tucked away in a quiet side street that leads to the north bank of the Thames at Waterloo Bridge, it occupies a brutal building that appears to have once been a parking lot. Try using formed concrete carefully. It could be the brother of the National Theater. I say so with admiration. Now it’s a spacious and utilitarian space of wood floors with an Art Nouveau flourish combined with teal curved benches. It has the atmosphere of a modern upscale canteen.

They use a version of Heston Blumenthal’s triple-cooking style: the unusual chips in tuclas. Photo: Sophia Evans/The Observer

However, the menu is a bunch of great ingredients that are served in the best possible way, like these chips. No wheel has been reinvented. Envelopes are not paid. There is absolutely no concept other than “Would you like to eat something?” They are well fed. I went twice. The first time was a quick lunch with a friend: asparagus, fried chicken, some french fries, pistachio ice cream and lemon sorbet. As I was leaving, the manager pulled me aside and told me that a new chef had just started that day. Can I keep this in mind if I’m planning to write something? I told him he didn’t have to say a word. I would not have noticed. For the record, this new chef is Yohei Furuhashi, who has worked at River Cafe and Petersham Nurseries on his resume. This matches the utopian simplicity of the food.

I came back a few days later this time for dinner. I even booked under a pseudonym and everything. They didn’t seem surprised to see me again. We had big fillets of salted salmon the color of orange syrup, interspersed with thin slices of pickled cucumber, drizzled with capers and drizzled with olive oil so hot it almost tickled the nose. There was more asparagus, served warm with a stick of butter mixed with a salty touch of grated bottarga. Toklas also has a very good bakery in the same building, where the sourdough is very crunchy, so no bottarga butter was wasted.

“Sherbert Orange Ribbons”: Crudo Trout with Cucumber. Photo: Sophia Evans/The Observer

The grilled chicken nuggets were served boneless, crunchy skin, dark and dense reminiscent of a bird that lived a little before it landed here. Add to that a mess of chickpeas, toasted fennel, and a dollop of rossa, that condiment made with sun-dried mashed tomatoes and peppers. A perfectly grilled steak that came with green tufts of monk beard and a plump cherry tomato, roasted until it exploded from its skins. With that, like I said, we had a bowl of their chips. or two.

The nerd we discussed which one slice was our favorite. I think the perfect bowl should be a mix of long, sturdy, thick, small, broken pieces and those that are just crunchy slivers. Perhaps at this point, I decided, having oiled up a few glasses of Fattoria San Lorenzo from Italian parades, that it was a good idea to test the kitchen on their chips method. I thank them for their kindness. Standing by the corridor, I also learned that this was a kitchen with an impressive collection of cookbooks on a high shelf. I find it soothing in any kitchen.

Almond cake.
Almond cake. Photo: Sophia Evans/The Observer

The first time, we finished our lunch with these ice cream flavors: the soft, creamy undertones of pistachio; Lime-enlarging eye-enlargement zipper. The second time was a dark chocolate mousse-like cake the color of the night, with fresh cream and almond tart stuffed deeply with a mess of orange juice. Then drank mint tea in exquisitely refined Japanese ceramics. It would be nice if I could now say the food here is as cheap as french fries, but since those great french fries aren’t exactly cheap, we know the rest won’t be either. However, it is not extortionate and it is very good. Plus, unlike Alice’s Fudge, it’s completely legal.

news bite

Tonkotsu group of 16 ramen restaurants with outposts in London, Brighton and Birmingham is celebrating its 10th anniversary. As part of the festivities, I teamed up with AngloThai John Chantarasak to serve up a Thai curry tonkotsu. The dish, which will be available in all venues from June 8-30, features the famous 18-hour pork broth, enriched with lardo and spicy northern Thai curry paste. It comes with thinly sliced ​​noodles, braised pork belly, pickled mustard, spring onions, cilantro, lemon wedge, spiced eggs, and crispy fried noodles (tonkotsu.co.uk).

Scottish chef Tony Singh brings his street food operation Radge Chaat to Bonnie & Wilde Food Hall on the fourth floor of the St James Quarter development in Edinburgh. Radge Chaat, which he launched alongside his brother Lucky last year, offers an entirely vegetarian and vegan menu of Indian street food dishes, including samosa chaat, pakora chaat and a vegetarian version of chicken tikka (tonysingh.co.uk).

Natural wine lovers Natalia Rebe and Chef Jackson Berg, who direct Barletta at Margate Turner Contemporary Gallery, are launching a new venture in the Cliftonville metropolitan area. The small wine bar seats 20 indoors and 20 outside, and is said to be inspired by the wine bars of Paris and the south coast of France. The wine bar will open in July, followed by the restaurant in October (barletta.co.uk).

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