Restaurant of the week: Fenn couples expertly balanced dishes with a lovely setting
There’s no point beating around the bush, outdoor dining is a temperamental and often very blustery, teeth-chattering experience. Yes, we’re thrilled to be allowed to eat at restaurants again in any capacity and have been bolstering ourselves against a particularly harsh April with blankets, thermal pants and a few too many Aperol spritzes, but it is not always the nicest experience to be shoved on a pavement in the cold. So then, to Fenn, the new venture from the trio behind ever-popular Nest in Hackney, whose outdoor seating is a veritable idyll, heated, sheltered and toasty warm. So warm in fact, that other diners requested the heaters to be turned down on my visit there.
Amongst the backdrop of Wandsworth Bridge Road, the team has created a sanctuary of painted wood, leather chairs, tables carved from single tree trunks and sheltered it all from the elements. Come rain, shine or wind, you can be outside, Covid safe and actually enjoy your meal without fear of your hands going numb. What a meal, too. The menu in the relaxed neighbourhood restaurant focuses on seasonal British produce and follows a similar bent to Nest, tying to cut down on food waste wherever possible. On one side, there is a full menu for you to pick all the choice dishes of the day from, while on the other a tasting menu – with meat or fully vegetarian – gives you little bits of everything and is excellently balanced to leave guests happily sated rather than uncomfortably full.
Opting for the tasting, we dove straight into two heavenly nibbly bits to whet the appetite: Lincolnshire poacher dumplings that were straight out the fryer, crisp, hot and melting with cheese and FFC, or Fenn Fried Chicken, a signature take on the popular dish with a smoky coating that brought through childhood nostalgia for frankfurter sausages. Next, a platter of homemade potato sourdough swooped in and disappeared almost instantly, the soft potatoes adding wonderful texture to the chewy dough and burnt crusts, perfect for slathering in salty butter. A beef tartare came next, drizzled in a punchy fermented chilli sauce that made sure your tastebuds were alive and ready for the next courses. As beef tartare goes, it’s up there with the best for me and the addition of a lively chilli sauce was a genius touch. The two mains were equally impressive; halibut cooked with an expert touch, sat atop a deeply flavoured bouillabaisse sauce with sea vegetables, followed by another beef showstopper. A tranche of aged sirloin joined a meltingly soft cheek, which came to life against a pickled walnut ketchup, broccoli puree and crispy potato cake.
It would be hard to top the dishes that came before it, each amping up every time to another crescendo of flavour and so you had to feel for the pudding and what it had to live up to. Yet, like a younger child who continually smashes its elder sibling’s achievements, the dessert was my dish of the day. It read on the menu as ‘Pump Street Chocolate & Yogurt Sorbet,’ a simple description hiding an aerated chocolate soil sat atop a rich ganache, which was tempered by the yogurt sorbet quenelle. Like everything at Fenn, it had a modern touch and expert balancing of flavour and texture. The restaurant opens indoors in May, but if you can get a table outside, it’s well worth a visit at any time of year and I’m rather envious of the locals who can count it as their new neighbourhood joint.
Published at Fri, 30 Apr 2021 11:55:17 +0000
Article source: https://www.houseandgarden.co.uk/article/fenn-restaurant-review