Disappearing Dining Club host Norse by Norsewest at French and Grace
The saying “good things come in small packages” can rarely have been attributable to a dining experience more accurately than here. Situated for the weekend inside the tiny establishment, French and Grace in Brixton Village Market, Disappearing Dining Club’s head chef Fredrick Bolin clearly knows his way round a kitchen and demonstrated how this itinerant institution can perform Scandinavian wonders anywhere they go.
Each small plate – of which there were seven, costing between £5 and £7.50 – made me wonder why I don’t eat Scandinavian food more often. A little morsel of Elk Sausage Roll burst with deep, savoury notes that sang through the introduction of a lingonberry ketchup. Next came a delicious little bowl of Smoked Ham Hock and Swede & Carrot Mash, known as fläsklägg med rotmos in Sweden. Usually this is the type of dish you yearn for in the murky depths of winter. Here though, the root vegetable mash stubbornly resisted the calls of stodge, instead remaining light and buttery. The final meat dish, a little tasting of Potted Reindeer on Sourdough Toast, was perhaps the most forgettable and fell a little bit short of the previous offerings’ achievements.
Nordic cuisine is partly defined by its partiality to preserved fish, a technique Bolin paid homage to in swathes of truly delicious plates. First, a dish of Swedish Herrings, Artic Cheese & a Crispbread Wafer: soft, unctuous flesh summoned a tiny piece of Sweden to the mouth. Small bursts of pickled sweet and sour red onions and dill fronds elevated this dish into the realms of the exceptional.
A perfectly composed trio of salmon plates was an embarrassment of riches. Noticeably appreciative of a good quality piece of salmon, Bolin’s first use of the deep pink, almost red-hued salmon is a classic. Gravad lax, served with a small dollop of smoked cod’s roe, was excellent, as was Beetroot and Orange Cured Salmon, complemented by the gentle aniseed flavour of a fennel salad. Finally, we had a small, compact square of Salmon Gratin Topped with Prawns, Grated Egg & Horseradish Butter. The dish was transformed by a grating of fresh horseradish.
Bolin came over for a chat and hearing his enthusiasm for Nordic cuisine demanded forcibly making room for dessert. A Liquorice & Lemon Dessert was an alchemic riot of flavours and textures; sharp lemon curd, soothing whipped cream and tiny shards of a Swedish liquorice sweet, the dish was small in size but gigantic in taste (and an absolute pinch at only £4.50).
Service was enthusiastic and informative. Our waiter gave us a brief and useful background to the two bottles of lager (Abro and Evil Twin), along with shots of homemade aquavit (the first – elderflower, dill, coriander seed and lemon zest, the second containing caraway, fennel, star anise and brown sugar), though the latter was perhaps a touch too strong. On another occasion the summer punch would no doubt make a fine alternative.
Norse by Norsewest: 52/60
Photos: Krish Nagari
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