Eschewing all forms of formality, Pratap Chahal went full bore when he named his restaurant. Occupying the former residence of Michelin-starred Arbutus, he had some big shoes to fill, and went appropriately big. FlavourBastard is a thesis statement of sorts. Not only is he bastardizing cuisines to create new and bewildering matrixes of taste and texture, but he is doing it with a brazen attitude that raises two fingers to the subtlety that traditionally typifies dining out in London.
The design was spearheaded by branding and interior design studio AfroditiKrassa, who did a fabulous job at rejigging the space to reflect the FlavourBastard ethos. The ceiling is crosshatched with cast-iron tubes painted aubergine which intersect at right angles, and bold exposed filament bulbs hanging between them. Tom Dixon-esque wall sconces entrap lights in brass cages, casting interesting shadows on the brushed concrete surfaces. Brief stretches of painted exposed brick are clad with striking objets d’art. A capuchin monkey clinging to a floral-painted missile being one such example.
This edginess is carried through to the food offerings. Chahal draws on his experience working in the kitchens of Raymond Blanc, the Galvin brothers, Gordon Ramsay, Chez Bruce and Cinnamon Club to create a ‘cuisine-agnostic’ menu. We ordered a bottle of German pinot noir crafted by Weingut Ziereisen with played well with the inventive dishes to follow, such as bread served with pickled onion and turmeric butter; steamed rice cake with house kimchi and sesame; and a white lentil, chorizo and pecorino doughnut – all of which were located on the ‘Tiny Plates’ section of the menu.
From the ‘Small Plates’ section, we were smitten with a flatbread topped off with smoked goat, pomegranate, frankincense, orange and tarragon, which smouldered with deep flavour almost as much as the Dingley Dell pork belly bathed in cinnamon and clove, bacon jam and pickled carrot. One of the more interesting dishes was the duck egg, served with triple cauliflower and pickled watermelon – it was cooked at 63 degrees so that the yoke and egg white were of the same gooey consistency, which you then muddle in with the rest or the ingredients. For dessert, churros thundered with cinnamon – and the accompanying rose petal marmalade ice cream was brilliantly executed.
Looking past the name, FlavourBastard showcases a chef with talent who is eager to experiment. Time will tell whether London is ready for it.
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