Dock Kitchen certainly does things differently. The industrial, open plan restaurant is found at Portobello Dock in West London, in an unusual urban landscape. Chef Stevie Parle runs an experimental kitchen, the menu constantly evolves dependent on the seasons and inspired by his recent travels. With each dish he hopes to evoke a sense of place, the flavour of a city, a culinary world that is unexpected and exciting for the diner.
The building itself is intriguing, this converted Victorian Wharf building is part of the regeneration project by Derwent London. The original brick arches and beamed ceilings have been preserved and combined with an exclusive display of Tom Dixon furniture and lighting to create an honest, open space in keeping with Stevie’s food. The Tom Dixon shop resides directly beneath the restaurant and houses pieces from over a dozen international designers.
A big group of us visited a few weeks ago to try the new Lebanese menu. Each month a different country’s cuisine is represented, most recently Indonesia and Sardinia. We sat outside on the terrace, where the atmosphere was pleasant but the service was slow and we felt rather neglected. The wine list is reasonable, or one can choose from the exotic cocktails and craft beers. While settling in we all enjoyed the fried sage leaves, grilled squid with romesco and friggitelli peppers and the beef kofte with cucumber, tomato and seasoned yoghurt. The food was simple and fresh as well as moreishly flavoursome.
The Lamb Biryani with rose petals, black cumin, coriander and almonds is a beautiful mix of components. The meat and rice is cooked in a clay pot and sealed with dough, it feels almost ceremonial breaking the crust to reveal the steaming food beneath. I loved the chicken with spiced green beans, labneh, fried chickpeas and herbs, a lovely fragrant summery dish with the perfect balance of spice and contrasting sweet pomegranate. Fish eaters will rejoice at the Cod, octopus and mussel moilee with trombetta squash and rice, it is an amazing bowl of curry with tentacles and mussels poking out ready for consumption.
The desserts seem to be less strictly part of the country’s cuisine, but a variety of sweet treats all the same. Salted caramel ice-cream is enjoyable but unexciting, Chocolate with cultured cream and burnt salty honeycomb is not your typical cocoa pudding, with a rich and almost bitter taste; speckled with moss green pistachio crumbs, it looks very pretty and was finished in seconds.
I love the idea that you can visit Dock Kitchen every month and travel round the world with Stevie’s creative menu. So step out of your comfort zone and embrace the exoticism and excitement of this innovative restaurant.
More information here: www.dockkitchen.co.uk
From 6 September Dock Kitchen will be serving a Polynesian menu.