Now this has to be one of the most interesting meals I’ve had this year, mainly due to the fireworks of flavours! Flavour Bastard is in the middle of restaurant land – Firth Street, just off Soho Square. So usually, my rule of thumb is always to have a sneaky peak at the menu online just to make sure I will have something to eat when I get to a restaurant. In this case? I didn’t even bother checking the menu before hand as I was so confident that I would be catered for.
And catered for I was! There was a short but sweet vegan menu, most of the dishes were duplicates of those on the main menu (save paper and stick a VE next to them!). The menus were divided into ‘tiny plates’ and ‘small plates’, and they lived up to their name as we had to order multiple plates in order to feel like we’ve had a decent meal. All the key words were in there – starting off with the first menu item, house vegan butter? Whoa! At this point, Pratap Chahal, the chef whose baby this place was came over and told us how much a labour of love it was creating it and how long it took to test and perfect before sticking it on the menu.
Obviously I ordered it! What arrived was a tiny plate (I’ll get this out of the way now, all the portions were tiny) with three slices of crusty, chewy – in a good way – bread and this little pot of pale yellow goodness. It looked like butter, it spread like butter, it tasted like butter, I couldn’t believe it’s not butter! (sorry, not sorry). It was a masterpiece – I was truly impressed and may or may not have ordered 2 more portions.
Next up – the tiny plate of steamed rice cakes with kimchi and sesame. I was expected a Korean-esque dish based around dokbukki but the rice cakes were actually squares of idli pan fried until they got this charred crust. They were served with this cabbage, spring onion and sesame salad. This was one of my favourite mouth sensations of the night – so moreish and delicious with the right amount of chilli. If the rest of the food was going to be like this, I was going to be very happy.
The miso and mango aubergine with buckwheat crumble was also another tasty dish. It tasted exactly as it read. This man is a genius to put combinations of flavour and texture like this. What wasn’t so good was that there was no consistency – we ordered about 4-5 of these dishes, and in some the aubergine was meltingly creamy and yielding, while in others it was undercooked. And nothing is as horrible as hard, fibrous raw aubergine.
I LOVED this next dish of wild mushrooms with gnocchi and white onion puree, sprinkled with crispy shallots and parsley. I had to double check if it was dairy free – how could anything be this creamy! Gnocchi was pillow soft, and that puree was a revelation – perfumed and smooth without any harsh onioniness (is that even a word). To be honest I would have liked a ‘large plate’ of this dish – maybe that is something to think about Mr. Chahal?
There was only one duff dish of the night – coconut and mustard peas with an almond garlic sauce – like an ajo blanco – with fennel, almonds and crispy popadoms. There was nothing right about this dish other than the sauce – but that didn’t pair or compliment anything else on the plate. It was actually a really unpleasant dish to eat. I did have a look at at the current menu and I’ve seen this dish doesn’t feature any more – thankfully!
And finally – dessert. There was only one option on the vegan menu and it had white chocolate (apparently another labour of love). White chocolate and magnolia tart with watermelon sorbet, apricot and midori. Now, I normally steer away from perfumed food, and this had more oodles – magnolia and midori. But order it I must (mainly because of the white chocolate)! It was one of the prettiest desserts I’ve had for a while. The tart crust was buttery (how!) and crumbly. The filling was nothing like the real thing but was tasty enough, and actually enhanced with all the fruity, flowery elements. I eat my words. I loved the watermelon sorbet and the apricot sauce. It was a clever, mind boggling dessert and one I really enjoyed eating.
What did I like about this place? Flavour Bastard’s dishes are very clever and thankfully most of them work. The cocktail and drinks menu is also good. I tried a craft beer called ‘The Bastard’s Brew’ made in Liverpool Street – very very drinkable.
What didn’t I like? The service at the restaurant started off really well, but towards the end it was 100% terrible. I think they were understaffed and the ones who were there (including the head chef) were running around like blue bottom flies clearing tables and dealing with customers. Also, as much as I like eating out and have no issues spending a lot on a good meal, I don’t think there is much value for money here. As tasty as the food is, the price to pay for the amount of food we got is ridiculous.. I’d like to go back but not until they start offering large plates that have more food at a more reasonable price!