Blanch & Shock Residency at House of Wolf, Islington
This month sees the experimental and innovative charms of Blanch & Shock as they take over the kitchen at House of Wolf in Islington. Being the perfect residency for them, it combines a multi-functional, “multi-sensory experimental pleasure palace, dedicated to the creative pursuits of dining, drinking, art and entertainment”.
The newly renovated historic music hall now houses an experimental cocktail bar, a live music venue, a restaurant and private dining rooms – all shrouded in mystery as you are led up two flights of stairs uncovering a chandelier and a candlelit dining space.
The menu is a well thought out five- to six-course journey resembling their code: “Work closely with suppliers, finding out what they’re most interested in and giving them more of a say.”
This is matched with an apothecary list of experimental cocktails pushing all boundaries from the Black Treacle: smoked black pudding infused Havana 7, fresh apple and molasses, served with a slice of cakey pudding topped with caramelised apple.
Their cocktails invoke intoxicating flavour combinations to challenge the senses, like the Over the Pop – a popcorn-infused Makers Mark Bourbon sour, with the glass covered in bubble wrap and accompanied with cherries for dipping in popping candy.
Beautifully artistic plates were served with a steady flow and there’s a reason why things are placed the way they are: the whey-ness of the yoghurt churned fresh butter, limp but fortifying smothered on Einkorn wholegrain and see-through Trealy Farm lardo wrapped prawns with a mellow mallow oil. The dish was followed by delicate pieces of wild sea bass decoratively sat in dill-vinegar with vibrant oxalis leaf, chervil root and celery cress.
The winner of the menu had to be the execution of the mallard duck, tender pink, with a quenelle of chestnuts, topped with scarlet hawberries and a mouth-watering Jerusalem artichoke enhanced by scatters of melliot herbs. Later followed by an equally fantastic dry-aged beef with salsify, fermented turnips, dandelions and piquant oyster emulsion.
The meal finished eloquently with Brogdale crisp apple slices, quince, sourdough brioche eggy bread, a sour yoghurt curd and buttered black tea syrup balanced the dish well. Not overbearingly sweet, in comparison to the alternative option of the interactive TIKI cocktail with edible demerara beach, creamy coconut shells, caramelised pineapple and a lethal mouth rum explosion.
Should you go? Well, in the heart of Islington you get a wolf-howling menu, a feast for the senses by possibly the next Heston food purveyors and creators in modern yet edgy British cuisine, not to be missed at £45 for the menu, it’s worth it even to push the boat out and try those exciting cocktails.
Blanch & Shock: 52/60
To book a table at House of Wolf, 181 Upper St, London N1 1RQ, call 020 7288 1470 or visit the restaurant’s website here.
Einkorn wholegrain bread with yoghurt whey butter
Raw prawns with Trealy Farm lardo, hogweed, mallow oil and salad burnet
Wild sea bass in dill-vinegar, Isle of Bute dulse, purple oxalis leaf, chervil root and celery cress
Wild mallard duck with chestnuts, scarlet hawberries, Jerusalem artichokes and melilot
Various cuts of dry-aged beef with salsify, fermented turnips, dandelions and oyster emulsion
Brogdale apples, quince, sourdough brioche eggy bread, yoghurt curd and buttered black tea