We are back in the States. I am on sabbatical until September 6th. During that time I’m going to be working from home on my book on contemporary Unitarian Universalist theology, a journal article on the origins of the “great replacement” conspiracy theory, and the exhibition of Libuse Jarcovjakova’s that First Houston is mounting during FotoFest. I also plan to post a few final things about my travels and some general updates to my blog, including an up-to-date list of my sermons and my preaching and speaking schedule for the next few months.
The first of these posts is simply about food, primarily restaurants, in London. I say primarily because the thing I want to start with is…
The Borough Market
The Borough Market dates to the middle of the 18th century. It occupies a space partially sheltered by the arches of London Bridge and is a mix of permanent stands, temporary vendors selling fruit and veg, and shops and restaurants that line the market’s edge.
I went there twice during my time in London. The first time was on my own and the second was with Sadé and the boys. When I went on my own I made it there shortly before the market closed and, therefore, didn’t get to do much shopping. I did, however, manage to grab a meal Fish! Restaurant, where I had an unmemorable dish (I literally can’t remember what I ordered). This was followed by a wonderful set of a half dozen oysters coupled with a glass of champagne at Wright Brothers. That was a much more satisfying experience and I would recommend a visit there for exactly the same thing, oysters and champagne, to anyone who wants the pleasure of watching the market go by while seated at a rustic bar.
My second visit to the market was focused on buying gifts and food items to bring back to Houston. We wandered around for well over an hour and bought things ranging from hot sauce to lavender syrup to … There’s a huge range of goods available. I could list them but a better sense can be had by visiting the market website or, better, the market itself.
Chishuru is one of the city’s “in” restaurants. Time Out has named it the best restaurant of 2022 and Condé Nast and the Guardian have both written great reviews about it. It specializes in West African cuisine and is located in the iconic Brixton Market, a wonderful maze of African, Afro-Caribbean, and Afro-British shops, food stalls, and restaurants.
When Sadé joined me in London Chishuru was at the top of our list. We made reservations about two months in advance and a couple of days after she and the boys arrived the two of us set off.
To say that it didn’t disappoint would be an understatement. The vibe was lovely, casual, intimate, and a bit bohemian. The service was attentive and the servers were more than willing to explain to us the various dishes that we found exotic.
Chishuru is a set menu sort of place. The meal we had is the one currently on their website. It began with three small plates: corn bites (chicken floss, scotch bonnet sauce), pan-seared hand-dived scallop (shellfish sauce, uziza oil), and ose-oji (peanut and coconut dip, radish, padrón peppers, carrots). All were delicious, though I think that we both enjoyed the scallop the most.
Scallops in England are served with their roe, a long tubular bright orange sac that it is attached to the white flesh. I find the roe delicious and I’ve never understood why it is impossible to find scallops with their roe in the United States.
The small plates were followed by mains, we split mphu (Cornish hake, banana leaves, spiced plantain sauce, chili) and ebiripo (celeriac cake, watermelon seeds, shitto, bitter leaves, pickled oyster mushroom). Neither of us had anything like the ebiripo before: earthy and creamy served with pickled things.
Dessert was the least memorable part. We followed it by a drink at a little bar around the corner that had a huge selection of whisky–I had a glass of Indian whisky followed by a Welsh one–with a great sign in the doorway: More Blacks, More Dogs, More Irish.
Located in the exceptionally trendy Hackney Wick, Cornerstone is a British seafood restaurant with a Michelin star. It offers a variety of creative takes on fish and shellfish that are obviously influenced by Japanese and Peruvian cooking. The two most interesting dishes I had were cured gurnard served with ajo blanco, smoked almonds, green apples, and grapes and a crab bun with spring kohlrabi kimchi and rhubarb hoisin.
The gurnard was essentially a white gazpacho and it was perfect in the summer heat, a bit smoky and savory with a hint of sweetness from the apples and grapes. The bun was the essence of umami and offered an excellent way to finish the meal.
Just around the corner from Cornerstone is Silo. It was the most cutting edge place that I ate at in Europe. It strives to be a zero waste eatery–which means that they use everything and leave nothing for the trash.
Reviews have been mixed. The Guardian absolutely hated it. Time Out loved it. For my part, I thought it was just delightful. I had the set menu, which consisted of a series of small plates. The mushroom with koji porridge was exceptional and the ice cream sandwich at the end was delectable.
The ambiance was casual but sophisticated. The staff was more than willing to explain the menu and how various parts of it were zero waste. Overall, a memorable evening and a place to return to again.
Exmouth Market is home to Santore, one of my favorite pizza places. We ate there shortly after Sadé and the boys arrived in London when we shared a meal with the Rev. Kate Dean, minister of Rosslyn Hill Chapel.
We went back to Exmouth our second to last night in Europe to visit Moro and meet longtime family friend Marketa Luskacova. My Mom loves Moro and she recommended that we take Marketa there. I had never been there before. I’d just heard my parents talk about how much they love it.
It offers a wonderful combination of North Africa and Spanish food. My favorite was the mezze, which was a huge combination of different kinds of salads and vegetable dips served with a giant piece of lavash. Other people greatly enjoyed the pigeon and the lamb.
By the end of the evening I could certainly understand why my parents like it so much. With luck maybe someday I’ll be able to share a meal there with them.
In addition to the four places listed above we or I ate at a few different casual places–some rather bland Indian, the market outside of Kings Cross, and Nando’s–and St. John, which I’ve written about in the past.
My next trip related post will be about food in Spain.