Chriskitch in Hoxton
In the restaurants’ kitchens there are cooks and there are chefs. It’s a calling, that moment when someone realises he is to lead a brigade and present his own vision of food. Usually it happens in their 20-30s, and now more than ever: from Ollie Dabbous and Tom Sellers to Merlin Labron-Johnson and Isaac McHale (just to name a few), London’s most celebrated chefs of the last decade are the same age. Then there are late bloomers, like Australian-born Christian Honor. He’s anything but new to the business – he started at 15 and became executive chef of hotels around the world, from Indonesia to Dubai and Egypt, and worked with Gordon Ramsay and at the Dorchester Hotel – just it was never his food the one he was looking after.
In 2013 he opened a small café in Muswell Hill, winning the heart – and a rave review – of the Guardian’s Jay Rayner. His cold food and salads became so popular he published a book in 2015: Big Flavours from a Small Kitchen. But a chef, sooner or later, needs to have a proper restaurant of his own. With wide-glass metal-framed windows facing Hoxton Market, Chriskitch opened a few months ago.
From the dining room design to the kitchen features, everything is carefully selected by the chef patron who had no compromises to make: in this venture he’s alone and all-in. The style goes beyond the clichés of trendy hipster-friendly restaurants: yes, chairs and tables are all different, the former mostly uncomfortable whilst full of character; metal beams are exposed and floor and walls are predominantly concrete in industrial-chic fashion; however it’s all coherent and unique.
We sit at the most beautiful table – a carved butcher’s block covered by a glass surface – the clientele is a bit older than the average Old Street crowd but it’s a good mix. Not too far from us Stanley Tucci is having dinner.
After enjoying the amusebouches and the home-made bread, we start with what is probably the chef’s signature dish: Champagne Poached Oyster with Truffle & Chive Scrambled Eggs. For £3.95 each, it’s one of the best things you can buy in any London restaurant – I suggest to pop in even just to taste that with a glass of wine. The truffle is just truffle but what the description doesn’t tell is that it’s covered with caviar.
The Yellofin Tuna Ceviche and BBQ Venison look and taste great: their taste heighten thanks to a wise use of fruit, spices and vegetables. In terms of cooking techniques, the tuna is perfectly marinated in thick tiger sauce whereas the venison benefits from Honor’s Japanese (Robatayaki-style) charcoal grill that gives it a distinctive flavour and texture.
In the selection of mains Honer’s more exotic experiences come out brazenly: there’s the Baked Arabic Lamb Hotpot, served in a traditional tajine, which – according to my fellow diner who regularly visits Morocco – is as authentic as those he had in the Maghreb country “but with more and better meat”; and there’s the salmon coated with blackened miso, sitting on honey and kale. My favourite was, however, the safer and more standard Slow Cooked Crispy Skinned Pork: tender and tasty inside, very crisp on the skin.
Whoever has recently read one of my reviews probably knows I fall for chocolate like bears to honey. Served in a plate coated to the sides with excellent dark chocolate and caramel, the Chocolate Soft Centre Pudding made me forget for a good minute where I was and what I was doing. However, to be fair, the Crème Brûlée I tasted afterwards was delicious too.
Chriskitch should be in every Londoner’s list of restaurants to try and with the soon-to-be-opened daytime café next door, it will be even more accessible than it currently is.★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Filippo L’Astorina
To book a table at Chriskitch, 5 Hoxton Market N1 6HG, call 020 7033 6666 or visit here.