I first heard about Ben Greeno cooking at Nuno Mendes' Loft Project. Having had worked at Copenhagen's Noma, he has a great background but the £125 'membership fee' was too prohibitive. Much more wallet friendly was the £35 menu he was serving up.
As we stuffed delicious hunks of bread slathered with nasturtium flavoured butter, we met our fellow guests. Four Singaporeans sitting immediately next to us kept us entertained, and there were many guffaws throughout the night. The first course looked simple enough; carrots. But lurking underneath the carrots were sour cherries that had been steeped in dashi. They were intensely savoury, and I mopped up the umboshi sauce with the carrot. Looks can be deceiving.
Next was one of my favourite courses of the night. Raw slices of mackerel were dotted with a tart berry sauce - jostaberries, not one I've heard of before. Peppery watercress was scattered over the plate, and sweetness came from apples Ben had picked earlier today. A stand-out dish, a perfect balance of a sour, fruity foil to the mackerel's richness.
Slow-cooked egg burst seductively over the plate, saucing the next dish. Pork rillette, wrapped in Brik (a Moroccan, filo-style of pastry) was accompanied by pretty flowers and intensely sweet onions. I would buy a sous vide just to make that gooey, creamy egg.
Lamb belly was paired with roasted parsnips and parsnip puree. The fat! The silky, mouth-coating fat was absolutely incredible, the meat tender as anything.
Blobs of lemon curd, blackcurrants, sweetcorn and rose meringue was intruiging. Sweetcorn is used in some Chinese desserts, but not any I had tried. Their sweetness was key here. Slightly chewy, they provided excellent texture to the smooth curd and the juiciness of the blackcurrants. The rose flavour in the meringue was so very subtle, and I only noticed it when it was pointed out to me. Ginger crumbs finished the dish off nicely, rounding it together with warm spice.
Ben Greeno was an excellent host, sitting down with us to chat after the plates had been cleared away. To my astonishment, soon it was 1am and we were drunk as hell with no signs of our host waning. We even snacked on more pork rillette, bread and pickled walnuts; not that we were left wanting, but given the opportunity I wasn't about to say no - have I ever mentioned my love for all things pickled? It was a week night though and the work dread set in, so cabs were called and we were whisked off into the night, replete.
I suggest you can go while you can; talent and food like this should not be passed up on.
Booking details are on the website below: