Fallow, Haymarket: “Some of the best food I’ve tried in London” – Restaurant review | meal

Fallow, 2 St James’s Market, Haymarket, London SW1Y 4AH. Snacks & Small Plates £7.50-£22, Large Plates £16-£40, Desserts £9-£16, Wines from £36

As we begin our dinner at Fallow in London’s Haymarket, a waiter brings a mushroom parfait to our table and then points to a shelf suspended from the industrially scaffolded ceiling. Gnarled tree trunks decorated with mushrooms sit up there. “And we even grow some of the mushrooms for this dish right here in the restaurant,” he says. Even factoring in the restaurant’s loudly proclaimed commitment to sustainability, this could be a deeply infuriating outburst of virtue signals were it not for a thing. The mushroom parfait is amazing. The raging blizzard of shitake and oyster is as smooth as velvet properly caressed. It is as deep as a play by Samuel Beckett and as rich as Rockefeller. Not at all surprising to me that dairy was involved along with separate eggs: yolks for the fat, whipped egg whites for aeration.

It’s lovely to eat but could also replace my Kiehl’s Facial Fuel habit as a moisturizer IMO; Just rub in and keep rubbing. Amazingly though, I think it’s pound for pound more expensive than Kiehl’s. I like to think that the £17 price tag for this small plate of mushroom pie is partly to recoup the significant research and development costs, as if it were a new medicine. Sure, it makes me feel better about the world. So no, Fallow isn’t cheap, but it really is all kinds of “gosh” and “wow” and “oh my!”.

“Eye Intact”: Cod Head with Sriracha Butter. Photo: Sophia Evans/The Observer

Chefs Jack Croft and Will Murray met at Dinner by Heston, which is interesting because the best thing I’d tried before their mushroom parfait was the vegetarian alternative to Blumenthal’s famous meaty fruit. This really is better (and, as it happens, cheaper). The two chefs shared a desire to uplift the humble and use the parts that others discard. A sprawling pop-up last fall eventually led to this sharp-edged corner seat: there are polished floors and red leather banquettes, marble counters, and bundles of seaweed and heather dangling from the ceiling. Flames are licking in the open kitchen.

On one of those excruciatingly hot evenings, the glass walls have been pulled back and the place roars and hums. It reminds me of the New York restaurants that reject the scalloped formality and curtsy of the kind that usually frame a kitchen of this quality, preferring instead to hew out plate after plate of the good stuff. Some of it is delivered by the extremely knowledgeable waiters, the rest by the chefs themselves.

“Almost toffee-like”: corn on the cob slices. Photo: Sophia Evans/The Observer

A special strength are spices. Slices of corn on the cob, curled up after a long soak in the fryer that made the kernels almost like toffee, are dusted with a salty-sour kombu mixture. It’s a bar snack featuring a zoot suit and spats that can be eaten like they’re baby back ribs. A similarly addictive salty-sour spice was used on long-smoked short beef ribs in a gravy crust that peel off the bone with a pulling of the teeth. Interestingly, two fat ribs only cost £12, which isn’t far off retail. Yes, pricing can seem a bit inconsistent at times.

One of those early dishes is a flatbread called tartiflette. It’s a pillowy, heat-puffed disk of crispy-crusted brioche, loaded with slices of Reblochon cheese, caramelized onions, and gherkin: all the ingredients, save for the potatoes, that the Reblochon merchant body found while looking for a dish to use he could flog her product back in the 80’s. Next comes picked white crab on a crispy shredded cabbage salad. Underneath is a smooth puree of Jerusalem artichoke. A roasted chilli broth is poured around this pile of loveliness.

“A pillow-like, heat-blown disc”: Tartiflette flatbread. Photo: Sophia Evans/The Observer

Try their twist on the leek vinaigrette, which, unlike the classic, is served warm. The leek pieces were smoked until soft. The dish is encouragingly dipped in a thick vinaigrette and then topped with deep-fried breadcrumbs. It’s a hefty portion, as it should be at £22, to share and battle with friends. The menu is heavily weighted toward non-meat dishes like this one, though it includes a list of ex-dairy cow cuts; Animals that gave their all for the dairy business and have finally given their all again. If you don’t approve of eating dairy or meat, nothing in this narrative will change your mind. But the idea that animals that have served in one way have served in another makes sense.

The dish that has garnered the most attention and will split the crowd is the cod head with sriracha butter sauce. It’s as described: a cod head, the part of the fish that might otherwise be discarded, the eye intact, slow grilled until the skin has taken on a sweet chewiness, then drenched in a tangerine sauce with a slight kick of chili and garlic. You’re invited to search around to find the flesh – not just the familiar cheeks, but the parts around the jaw and eye socket and beyond. I find myself feeling my own well padded face. You could eat really well there. There are two views here: either this is the very worst of over-the-top London restaurant hipsterism, or there’s the opinion of those who’ve tried it that it’s a damn good, delicious, and totally hilarious idea.

'Copper Cream': tart.
‘Copper Cream’: tart. Photo: Sophia Evans/The Observer

Of the desserts we try, the best is a tart deeply filled with a copper-colored cream made from whey that has been slowly caramelized for almost three days. Essentially, it’s a grown-up version of condensed milk. A chocolate mousse with assorted mushroom bits and black truffle feels like the kitchen is getting a little too clever for its own good. I find myself muttering the word “interesting” about it. That’s never good.

My only other criticism is of the extensive wine list, which starts at £36 a bottle and has nothing under £9 a glass. It makes entry into an already inexpensive restaurant unnecessarily expensive. It is possible to find good wines at less unbearable prices for those on a budget. That aside, Fallow really does serve some of the best food I’ve tasted in London at the moment. The issue of sustainability is great. Let’s do the mushroom show right here in the barn. Let’s use the bits that others throw away. But none of that matters if your expensive dinner isn’t unforgettable. With Fallow it really is.

bite news

Chef Adam Reid of The French at the Midland Hotel in Manchester has announced a new, less swanky venture in the city. The Butty Shop will be a take-away grocery store in the redeveloped New Century Hall, a self-proclaimed “social destination” in a Grade I listed building on Mayes Street. Reid’s all-day menu will appear to focus on traditional sandwiches. It plans to “bring the British butty back to life, with classic Nordic flavors that build on memories of childhood bakery visits”. There will be pickled eggs. at adam-reid.co.uk.

Brazilian chef Alberto Landgraf, who has two Michelin stars at Oteque in Rio de Janeiro, is bringing his food back to London, where he began his career with the likes of Gordon Ramsay and Tom Aikens. Landgraf, whose menu particularly focuses on seafood and open fire cooking, will introduce Bossa on Vere Street, in a room beneath the Brazilian consulate.

And sympathy for Cardiff, which will be getting an Ivy Asia serving its quirky menu of vaguely Japanese-inspired dishes in St David’s shopping centre. In the summer of 2021, Ivy owner Richard Caring was forced to delete a promotional video for his new Chelsea Ivy Asia and apologize for “any offense” caused by what various groups have denounced as racial stereotypes. However, Ivy Asia still has a private dining room in Manchester called the Geisha Room.

Email Jay at [email protected] or follow him on Twitter @jayrayner1

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