The minute I learned about Dan Barber through Netflix's Chef's Table, I was a fan! He has a very caring approach to produce and I think that to care so much about ingredients is the most important part of feeding people. Naturally, learning about WastEd London taking place from the 24th February to the 2nd April meant getting on the phone and immediately making a reservation before it was fully booked. I obviously don't need to tell you that this is not a sponsored post and all the pictures and words, except where naming the dishes...are my own!
I really wanted a dinner slot but surprise surprise, they were all gone! We settled for lunch and based on what my tastebuds experienced, calling it settling is not doing the lunch team justice...the food was excellent!! We opted for the taster menu which was 7 courses of beautifully prepared food and very much a reminder of the motherland Nigeria, not because of the menu but because my people do not waste food!
If you've ever been around a Nigerian butcher's stall, you'll notice cow foot, goat head, tripe, woven intestines, oxtail....every single part of the animals that have been killed that could possibly be consumed are all available for sale. The less traditional parts of the livestock are often cooked as native delicacies! More on that another time...
On arrival at Selfridges, there was a dedicated express lift from the fragrance hall where we were greeted and our names ticked off the list. A lovely lift operator chatted politely with us for the quick ride up! Then it was on through a dimly lit corridor with videos playing about food processes and over to a coat check desk from where we were led out to the rooftop where we sat at table two and had a lovely view to the left of central London's rooftops and a clear view of the chefs at work to the right!
There was a brown paper sleeve on the table with the menu which was in five parts...1 & 2 being a total of nine starter items, 3 consisting of three broth options, 4 was four main course options...the Lamb Tail Lasagne being unavailable 😞 and the final box marked Dessert which had 4 delicious sounding options! The menu folded out into a glossary to explain some of the odd terminology on the menu and then there was a cocktail and beverage menu too with my choice being the Arnold Palmer, described as "fruit off-cut cordial, second flush tea. We also gave the Beavertown Bespoke Bottle Kvass which was specially brewed for the restaurant and had a sweet smell and definitely gave a hint of fruit on the palate.
It started with yummy warm "Wasted" bread which was made from bran and barista milk bread...basically the leftover outer layer of grain and leftover latte milk. The why ricotta was perfectly matched with the roasted aubergine and tomato puree and the waste fed pig ham was very juicy and went perfectly with the pea skin hard bread that had a grainy, satisfying crunch and overall un-pea-like flavour. We ate it all!!
Along came this delicious caviar served on a cod head carcass with spoons that would be ordinarily the fins and a bit of attached skin that end up in the bin. The skin part which held the caviar was totally edible and the crispy deliciousness perfectly matched the grainy, salty, mushy caviar that went down an absolute treat!! I must commend the team for their thorough knowledge of the menu and the original end of the products that ended up on our plates.
Now let me tell you about the delicious sardine and cod scrap fish and chips!!! This was my second favourite thing on the menu! The perfectly crispy fish bones and the deliciously salty egg wrack seaweed that was basically tempura and the yummy potatoes which looked like the bits that are taken off the top and bottom of the potato to allow for perfectly rectangular chips...and the pockmarked potato cream that absolutely rivalled mayonnaise! This dish would be best enjoyed on the pebbled beaches of Brighton! My heart was happy!
After a brief pause and the sight of some truly amazing looking cod head kedgeree's headed to a couple of tables, we were presented with lettuce butts topped with tuna bloodline vinaigrette, smoked salmon collar and salmon skin crumbs! This. Was. Tasty!! The lettuce butts tasted almost like they'd been pickled and definitely made me think I should be adding them to my salads and although it was a saltier plate of food than I would make myself, it was a great follow-up to the fish and chips and introduced the broccoli stems with dry-aged beef end crumble that we had next perfectly! The problem with me getting up and going to the ladies before the broccoli stems came out was that I dived right in and gobbled them up without a second thought! It was delicious!
And then there was the broth!! Spent Hen Broth to be precise...the chicken that usually ends up in animal food after it's spent it's life producing eggs and chicks...can you believe it!! It had "ugly" tortillas and rape greens and was served with this yummy kale stalk on the side complete with scissors to help yourself to as much leafy greens as you would like in your broth or just on it's own to experience the earthy, fresh flavour it's known for.
Plate number 6 was the sausage from a waste fed pig complete with delicious bubble and squeak that had the perfect mustard remouillage gravy! I enjoyed the lovely crust on the bubble and squeak with the perfectly mushy potato texture and the yummy graininess of the gravy topped with the salty, juicy sausage! A very well balanced plate that actually perfectly prepared me for the dessert plate that was still to come!
My absolute top marks and favourite part of the experience at WastEd London was the dessert!! The "Waffle Scrap Treacle Tart" was insanely good and the failed popcorn ice cream on top was true happiness on a plate!! The "(Not) Chocolate (Not) Milk Ice Cream Float" was a little underwhelming due to my personal dislike of cream soda but the contents of the jars here got gobbled up sans liquid! The pastry crumble, nut press biscuit and apples in the float were so so tasty and it was just a shame I wasn't feeling the froth but that tart!!! That ice cream!! My goodness, what a celebration of flavour! The side plates were unnecessary! 😄
If you're able to make a reservation for this delicious restaurant before it leaves London, you will not be disappointed!! There is a 12.5% discretionary service charge which is added to the bill at the end and all dishes are priced at £15 and £75 for the taster menu. Drinks range from £3-£10 and wine and bubbles will set you back £8-£179! It's central London though, so this is all expected for a fine dining session isn't it?! I'll be at the Hey Eater Pop Up today for another dose of indulgence...Post on that too will be available after the event and you can thank the Wix App for repeatedly crashing otherwise this would have been published for your reading pleasure last night! Sticking to web updates for now methinks!