Kiln, Soho: London, England
When Kiln Soho opened last year, everything about it excited me: Northern Thai food, cooked entirely over fire in front of your eyes and relaxed bar seating – two of my favourite things.
So, when we rocked up at 7pm on a Saturday night, we were more than willing to wait our turn, and wait we did. Instead of hanging about, we pottered off into the depths of Soho, where we enjoyed several exorbitantly priced but marvellous cocktails (in The Den @ 100 Wardour Street). When our spot at the bar was ready, we received a text from Kiln informing us that our spot at the bar was ready, which was lucky for my wallet as our drinks tab was starting to make me nervous!
One of my favourite dishes was the chicken – the finest I’d eaten all year, with its crispy skin and a juicy thigh with all the barbecue char of summer. I also loved the dinky lamb skewers dusted with Sichuan pepper, cumin and a hefty amount of salt.
Next up was the langoustines ceviche, which epitomised the taste of Thailand – heady chilli, zesty lime juice and fragrant sweet mint. We also devoured the rich and unctuous brown crab meat and the pork belly and glass noodle claypot.
We rounded all of this off with a ridiculously moreish Southern-style dry, minced pork curry spiked with heat and providing a huge hit of umami. We also had a rich, short rib Burmese curry, which according to my partner, was the best dish he’s ever eaten.
The chefs here all cook with mesmerising skill. Within the restaurant, there’s a gorgeous hum, and a sense of the here and now, which helps keep you present, focusing on the food and the atmosphere.
The cooking station is covered with burnt embers and ash and is laden with precariously balanced claypots that have seen better days alongside ready and waiting red-hot woks. We watched as mussels were scorched momentarily over naked flames until they opened to provide them with a smoky flavour.
Despite the chaos, there is a surprising calm, and the presentation of the food is sophisticated. All the dishes we enjoyed were beautiful, intriguing, feisty morsels that I simply couldn’t get enough of. Quite simply, it’s a place that brings me so much joy it makes me happy to be alive.
58 Brewer Street
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