I should have written this review but ages ago but it is far harder to be nice than to be nasty about a meal. When you have a truly excellent meal it is especially difficult to distill what made it so special into words. I have now been to F&L twice and each time I have faced this problem (prior review here).
F&L is a strange beast, it is a supper club/ underground restaurant where the food is the star. This is not about dancing drag queens, genteel conversation, glimpses into other people’s front rooms or a fine brew, it is about good food. What is most impressive about F&L is that they are inventive with their dishes. They don’t roll out dishes which are tried and tested (apart from on each other) but put new and strange flavour combinations out there to either succeed or fail.
On my second visit a group of six of us went to F&L’s fish tales supper. This was a chance for F&L to deposit large amounts of cash in Steve Hatt’s hands (the best and most expensive fishmonger in London) and for us to see what they could do with it. I was a bit suspicious before going as I thought fish could be the hardest ingredient to base a supper club around as it is all about freshness and not overcooking it. As you will notice there are no pictures of the food as the BYO nature of the super club caught us out (again).
The first course was salmon sashimi with mirin and orange sauce and chips. The sashimi was swimmingly fresh and the dip was everything that impresses me so much about F&L; a combination that I have not tried elsewhere but which works so well. I also remember a wasabi mayonnaise (though it may not have been with that course) which quite frankly wowed me. Again, almost an obvious combination, but not one that I have had elsewhere.
The next course was an udon noodle soup with dill fishcakes. I am afraid I have nothing inventive to say about this other than that it was good and warming on a cold night.
Then it was a tempura whitebait with lemon and a garlic Turkish bread. This was, and I wince to say so, a miss for me. Whitebait is a dish that suits the summer and is to be crunched like the nautical equivalent of crisps on a hot day by the Thames. No matter how well cooked it doesn’t quite fit a miserable winters night. That said the garlic Turkish bread was addictively good.
The next dish was a tortilla and an octopus salad. It was one of my dishes of the year. Absolutely stupendous. By the time I remembered to take a picture it was half done. I couldn’t beg borrow or steal extras from anyone else as they were similarly enraptured.
Then there were tiger prawns which were again too good for me to remember to take a picture and finally a bread and butter pudding that was addictively good.
Some of my memories of the night are vague as all of us once again got into the spirit of the night and drank everything which moved. 6 people went, 4 of them first timers and I know everyone wants to go back.
- Price – £30 plus please tip
- Address – somewhere secret in Hackney