Creative Cooking at Fallow Restaurant, Heddon Street.
Imagine opening your restaurant doors for the first time and then, two days later having to close them thanks to lockdown. That’s exactly what happened to the two chefs behind Fallow, Jack Croft and Will Murray. Having met working at the two Michelin starred Dinner by Heston, they discovered a shared interest in sustainable dining. They went on to launch a couple of pop-ups together before arriving at 10 Heddon Street for a four-month residency, Fallow Restaurant. And, just as they opened, England as a whole closed!
Looking for somewhere to eat in central London is a bit of a maze right now as restaurants prepare themselves for a new level of social distancing. Not every website is up to date and it can be hard to find the perfect venue, especially if you are intent on dining al-fresco. I was planning to visit Covent Garden but found it almost impossible to check what was open. Then, while I was busy trying to find an al-fresco space in Central London, I discovered that the Resy booking platform has done the hard work for me with the ability to select al-fresco dining. And, of their top three recommendations, I already knew and loved two (Kitty Fisher’s and Barrafina). I started to check out more about Fallow, the third restaurant on their list – and the more I read, the more I knew it was the place I needed to visit.
Heddon Street is a small, pedestrianised close just off Regent’s Street. It’s home to some great places – Momo, Sakagura, Tibits and Heddon Street Kitchen of course. Momo, Tibits and Sakagura looked as if they were still closed. Number 10 is used for residencies of 4 months and there have been a couple before Fallow, both of which were extremely highly rated. I was excited – not only were we dining out – but we were going to a recent opening that just sounded spot on.
The current menu at Fallow, Heddon Street comprises a mixture of small plates and scoffable treats (kombu fries, corn rib with lime or dairy cow burger) which are listed on the Bar and Terrace menu and weekly specials which are pricier and more substantial. The wine list is littered with wines I haven’t tried but want to explore. Three out of four of the sparkling wines are British. We parked ourselves at a table on the terrace – most of the diners at lunchtime had done the same – while we went in search of the perfect spot to dine.
Inside it feels closer to a Shoreditch hipster joint than swanky Mayfair and there are bottles and jars of tasty looking ketchup, Fallow sriracha, spicy rubs and even granola piled up to buy which the chefs made during lockdown. A stripped-back comfort that would cheer anyone up on a rainy day if the terrace was out of use. But, it was sunny – so the terrace was the obvious place to settle.
We ordered a bottle of Sospiro Pinot Grigio, a rosé wine that comes from the Veneto but looked for all the world like a Provençal pink. And food.
Beetroot, horseradish, red chicory and walnut was a picture on a plate – a beautifully composed dish with sweet caramelised walnuts adding crunch to the fresh, vegetal dish.
My trout was, apparently, fished by our server’s family and was her recommendation. A delicious concoction of delicate slices of trout with a tomato-based cure, cherry tomatoes and dressing to complement the sauce vierge. The freshest of plates, my only regret was not having ordered some sourdough to mop up the piquant sauce.
John Dory was on the main menu. Something I’ve only just learnt to cook. And, I’ve never ordered it in a restaurant before. An obvious choice for me right now, I’d already spotted the fish on the Fallow Instagram stream. I have a sneaking suspicion that my fascination with John Dory is at least partly because it is such a strange-looking beast, with spines, St Peter’s thumbprint and a bizarre pout that isn’t just indignation to have landed on my plate. Cooked, it’s quite delicious – with a texture a little like halibut and a light, fresh taste. The Fallow John Dory didn’t disappoint, simply cooked over charcoal and served with brown butter and capers. Next time I cook it at home I’ll be trying brown butter and capers too. I loved the way the chefs had used braised greens to hide up the really not so gorgeous head of the John Dory.
Lucy, my lunch date, ordered the sirloin steak. When it arrived, it would have been perfect for me, I like sirloin steak rare to medium-rare. But that wasn’t what Lucy had ordered so it went back to the kitchen for a little longer on the grill and returned absolutely perfectly cooked to her taste. I’ve been in places where the chefs are too precious to veer from their own concept of perfection and have objected when asked to make a minor adjustment. Here it just didn’t happen that way at all and it was returned, perfect for her palate.
We shared a green salad which was all that we needed to complement the generous main courses.
Then, the kitchen sent out a picture-perfect lemon peel pudding with icecream and milk. A dish like nothing else I’ve eaten, this was almost like a suet crust with a light lemon filling that oozed when we cut into it. Yes, we failed and didn’t take a picture of the ooze. We were far too busy eating and obsessing over the dish.
Perhaps what impressed me most about Fallow was that the menu has been designed for people who love to eat. Yes, there are fancy dishes – and in our excitement about actually being in a new restaurant after lockdown, we probably focussed a little more than we should have done on that side of the menu. But, if you happened to be working in the area or shopping you shouldn’t have any concerns about trying out Fallow. Go for the burgers (we watched them being served to other diners and had a definite case of food envy). Go for the fish. Go for the amazing steaks. Or just go for oysters and cocktails – and enjoy the kind of food that I remember London doing best.
Mains at Fallow start at £12 for a burger up to £65 for a rib of beef for two to share (anyone fancy treating me? I promise to go halves!). Oysters are £3 a pop and smoked beef dandy rib are £4 each. You can graze or feast. The choice is yours. Just make sure you go.
10 Heddon Street
Monday – Friday
11am – 6pm