I’m back! Sorry it’s been a while, but I’ve been doing actual real life work, in a real life company in the actual city. I commute. I have an alarm clock. I iron my clothes. I get the Friday feeling. It’s all very alien.
But despite the 6:30 daily wake up and lack of time to bake as much as I’d like to, work is actually quite awesome. I’m interning at a food PR agency, meaning I spend all day every day reading food-related magazines, scrolling through blogs and browsing instagram; so pretty much being paid to do what I already do at home. And on top of that I sometimes get a free meal/free drinks out. And on Fridays we get Prosecco. These people do work right.
But the cherry on top of this multi-tiered cake is that once a month, we’re each given £50 to review any new London restaurant that takes our fancy, so I thought I’d put my review up here as well, seeing as I haven’t time to do a recipe until next week when my internship ends (at which point I will LIVE in the kitchen to make up for lost cooking time). So here’s my review of the very recently opened Strut & Cluck in Shoreditch – a restaurant entirely themed around the turkey (ever got a sudden hankering for a Christmas dinner in July? Me neither, but it’s worth going all the same). Pictures are all courtesy of Strut&Cluck’s website as I was too involved in my food to bother with pictures.
I’ve always thought that turkey is quite an underrated meat, but underrated enough to justify an entire restaurant dedicated to it, to the extent of it being the only meat on the menu – and without a roast potato, sprout or stuffing ball in sight? Interesting concept, but the idea of supersized wings and Eastern Mediterranean accompaniments was enough to excite us on our way to Strut and Cluck.
The restaurant itself provided a nice setting for a chilled out evening of feasting – low lighting provided by exposed light bulbs and wires hanging from the ceiling, plants everywhere; kind of shabby chic style that would obviously appeal to the instagram generation. Equally as pleasing was the drinks menu that was pretty reasonable given we were in London – cocktails for £8.50 and wine for £4 by the glass – however, choose your cocktail wisely. I went for the recommended ‘Jaffa I’ve missed you’ with rum, elderflower and orange bitters, which would have been lovely if it wasn’t for the lick of some sort of sticky chocolaty syrup smeared around the rim. Not only did this give me a Joker-esque chocolate smile when I took my first sip of it, but it also meant that whenever I reached over to grab a piece of pitta bread I risked smearing more of the stuff all over my arm. Get it for the flavour, but be warned that it requires some level of coordination/skill to drink it. Or get a straw, because who really wants their cocktail to taste like a jaffa cake anyway.
So onto food. We went for tapas style and decided to go for a few starters from the ‘roasted and tossed’ section, followed by 2 mains from the ‘on the bone’ section of the menu – the menu is organised to allow either a starter/main kind of meal, or tapas style eating which is, in my opinion, quite a nice way of doing it. To start we shared a quarter roasted cauliflower (seen it loads on social media as one of the stand out dishes – looked distinctively less impressive when quartered but tasted fantastic); watermelon, feta and olive salad with mint; and the tahini and baba ganoush dips with pitta bread. All good – the dips and pitta were particularly stand-out, the smokiness of the baba ganoush and fluffiness of the pitta making for a seriously Moorish dish (plus coeliac eating companion = all the bread for me). All good portions too, which was just as well because the wait for the mains was bloody long.
But we weren’t really here, at this turkey-only restaurant, named and decorated with turkey at the centre, a turkey on the logo and even a picture of a turkey in the toilet, to critique the veg dishes. We wanted to see how big a turkey wing was. Quite big is the answer. We ordered both the slow roasted thigh with sweet potato and caramelised onions, and the sticky harissa and honey wings. The thigh was bigger than my knuckle, pull-off-the-bone tender and, surprisingly, not dry. The onions were perfectly sweet and sweet potatoes – well – as nice as a sweet potato can be. All in all, a nice dinner, but just that. Swap turkey for chicken and it’s no different to any other weekday meal I’d make myself. Plus it was served with a slightly gloopy gravy that was wasn’t needed or wanted (was it a tiny nod to a Christmas dinner? They had to fit one in somewhere I guess). The wings, however, were well worth the wait. Big, sticky, well spiced, sweet, messy, fab. Give me a plate of those and a basket or three of pitta and I’d happily eat myself to coronary heart disease.
Defeated into a turkey-induced fatigue, we skipped pudding and opted to get the bill and go lie down somewhere. So yeah. It’s a restaurant that serves turkey. How novel. But its appeal doesn’t lie in this somewhat obscure USP – it lies in its use of fresh seasonal produce to make seriously tasty Eastern Mediterranean-inspired dishes that are perfect for a chilled evening of casual feasting. In terms of the turkey, I just felt like I was eating a big chicken.