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I’d spent the day working from home and making cups of sugary coffee for the plasterer, who’d called me up every couple of hours to admire his progress and show me the music videos of his son, who is an Albanian rap star. (I am not joking. His most popular track has over 17 million views on YouTube.) Once I’d clocked off and our bedroom had been rendered a ghastly nipple-like pinky-brown colour, albeit with very straight edges and smooth walls, it was time to head west to have dinner with Rosie.
The venue was Goode & Wright, a restaurant I visited a couple of years ago and memorable for its uniquely horrible selection of cocktails. Everything we tried was sloshed together by an anonymous but aggressively enthusiastic amateur “mixologist” whose “creativity” manifested itself as the alcoholic equivalent of being fisted in the mouth.
Needless to say, the place is under new management, and I’m pleased to report that these days it’s the kind of neighbourhood hero Portobello Road needs more than ever now that Greggs and Poundland have moved in. Nothing against Poundland, of course – it does then job when you’re shopping for oven cleaner – but it’s still a bit of a shock when you grew up watching Bedknobs & Broomsticks.
The menu, which is all trendy small dishes, reminded me a bit of Picture of Marylebone/Fitzrovia: pretty plates with creative – but not fisting-level creative – flavour combos. I’m jealous of Rosie, who lives just around the corner, especially after the waitress revealed that there’s a 25% discount for locals. It’s keenly priced as it is.
We chose five plates and a side to share, though they arrived so evenly spaced that it reminded me more of a tasting menu, which I liked. Nothing worse than your whole meal arriving in one go, each dish vying for tabletop real estate and going cold while you work your way round.
The new chefs, Oren Goldfeld and Gabriel Muñoz, hail from Israel and Spain respectively, and their cooking can broadly be described as ‘world fusion’. Our first dish was a chicken liver parfait (£6.50) that glided onto the accompanying toast so pleasingly that even our wonderful plasterer would have broken his skimming thingamajig in half and burst into tears. We still haven’t gotten round to painting the new plaster yet and every time I close my eyes in my weird nipply bedroom I think of that lovely dish.
The ceviche (£7.50) was listed on the menu without any named fish, which is a bit like ordering a ‘meat’ pie, but I suppose they just get what’s good on the day and save on reprinting menus. Meaty chunks of grapefruit turbo-charged with shouty lime juice and peppery daikon threatened to overpower the delicate fish, but the experience was a pleasant one with alternating forkfuls.
Aubergine with chimmichurri (£7.00) bore no resemblance to the advertised dish, and more Middle-Eastern than South American with its red pepper hummus and curious absence of chimmichurri, but we enjoyed it nonetheless. Pig cheeks were good but not as succulent as the ox cheek I’d eaten a few days previously at Smokestak, and a tremendous take on cauliflower cheese (£3.00) read like a low-carb, soupy garlic bread, and is worth abandoning chips for.
We finished up with the most expensive dish on the menu – juicy lamb chops (£13.00), pretty and pink in the middle and served on a bed of pickled veg.
For dessert, we tried the Guinness and cacao cake with Marmite chantilly cream (£5.00). Hmm. The other proper puddings besides ice cream and cheese involved pistachios (piss on them) and panna cotta, whose only virtue lies in making me feel less wobbly in comparison. The cake was a sandwich of sorts, expertly made slabs of sticky brownie that had its fudgy thighs wrapped tightly around a frill of that controversial Marmite cream, which was interesting in that italicised sort of way but probably only really worth ordering if you really bloody love Marmite. Which I don’t.
We went home feeling pretty pleased with our discovery, especially Rosie, who will be rinsing that local discount. The puddings could use a bit of work – please just put that wonderful brownie with a scoop of salted caramel ice cream and be done with it – but aside from that the menu was a marvellous mish-mash of thoughtful, interesting dishes. And, while it’s not as cheap as the Poundland over the road, it’s still pretty good value.
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.