Where to start? Well I’ll start with the main man of the day, Carl Clarke AKA the Disco Bistro and current UK Chilli Stand Off Champion who was asked to do the Cornish Grill for February. What is the Cornish Grill you may ask? Well it is a monthly Sunday roast event at Redhook London falling on the last Sunday of each month with a menu created by a selected renowned chef. We all know that the Sunday roast is as traditionally British as you can get and although Carl is of Irish descendent himself, he took charge to create a spectacular one-off take on the roast dinner; featuring all things Cornish of course including a centre piece of venison. Unorthodox maybe, but then Carl doesn’t do standard.
Carl has been in the game, excuse the pun, for many a successful year and his skills have taken him to great heights around the globe. Of late he has slaved away many a long day/night to help get the new Hix Belgravia launched and keeps moving with various one-off events as well as consultancy projects. As well as holding the converted UK Chilli Champion spot from last October, last year also saw him showcase ad hoc events like Rock Lobster and The English Laundrette amongst others. He is a very busy guy indeed and worked hard to fit the Cornish Grill into his diary (for the delight of everyone including the rumoured 25+ Michelin stars to be scattered around on the day). In fact his dedication took him and a bunch of other culinary reprobates (Tom from Pitt Cue Co, NoshableAdam, @xCharlieAngelx and a few more – Sorry Charlotte, less reprobate more philanthropist, down on the hunt for an article to come soon on The Bespoke Blog with @qinxiesays) down to Cornwall the previous week to forage (a huge passion of his) to hunt (with Simon from Cornish Game) to taste cider (lucky git!) and have a jolly old good time – Now that’s what I’d call a ‘Stag’ Do and yes, pun intended. I can’t wait to find out what top secret events Carl has planned for this year, I’m sure there is a few soon to be revealed.
But enough about all that, let’s find out ‘who killed Bambi? Well they all say they did on the hunt, but on this Sunday it was definitely Carl that killed it! The day started early for me as I went down to the restaurant around 10am to drop off my part of the menu, the Billy Franks Jerky. As a pre-starter for the menu, each table would be gifted with a tray of ‘Pub Snacks‘ and I had been given around 8 kilos of 40 day dry-aged Cornish reared Galloway beef by @Cornishgrill & @WarrensButchers to provide it as jerky. I’ll let you know about the rest of the snacks in due course. As I said it was an early morning for me and more so that I was slightly hungover from the previous day drinking with many Liverpool friends down for the weekend’s cup final – scheduled for Sunday right during this meal! If it hadn’t been for the jerky I may of been at Wembley and missed out on this evening.
The morning went fast with Carl in command buzzing around the nucleus of Redhooks kitchen. I got to meet his handpicked team for the day and I was treated to samples of fresh bread from the oven. I also got to see his special take on scallops, watch my jerky being tasted by everyone around – which got a big thumbs up too. I could see various elements of the days menu being transformed into something, but I wasn’t quite sure what. I did however know that in due course I’d see it all come together like a gastronomic jigsaw puzzle – one that only Disco Bistro knew the pieces of.
It was all very chilled out upstairs as Matt hand wrote labels that I then tied onto the jars for the ‘pickle backs‘ (another part of the ‘Pub Snaks‘). We then sat and had coffee with Simon @CornishGame (a fellow LFC fan too!) before there was a slight panic. It was 30 minutes before the guests were due to arrive and we had a phone call saying that the menu’s had still not been printed. Luckily enough I am based just around the corner so I ran out to get them printed and cut in time for the staff to then get them on all the tables.
As I was gone a bartender had arrived from the Giant Robot (a restaurant around the corner) and set up the days DIY Grey Goose Bloody Mary bar. This went down a storm as arrivals came through the door who were then shown the ropes on how to make a great Bloody Mary. We were told that about 35mm of Grey Goose would be enough and to then add some of the following ingredients. There was lots of chilled tomato juice, ice cubes, various Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce and even some fresh horse radish at everyone’s disposal – all to be stirred and mixed with a large supply of celery sticks.
As we mingled, I chatted away to Lauren and Adam from Noshable.co.uk (great pre-write up about this event on his site called ‘Perfect Roast Dinners #2 – Carl Clarke‘ along with a REALLY great article about Billy Franks called… Billy Franks Beef Jerky !) we met up with Carls wife Victoria, her father and his lovely girlfriend, some other friends of theirs and also the legendary @OfficialMrNice himself, Howard Marks – as any student of the last 20 years knows he wrote a book that, even if you haven’t read, you have definitely seen on every student’s unofficial reading list. Anyway, the room was now bustling with chefs, foodies, business associates and general hungry diners who had all pre-booked this sell out event. We had TV celebrity chefs inside like Gizzi Erskine, kitchen crews from some of the coolest joints in town like the Fat Duck, Pitt Cue Co, Roganic, the Ledbury as well as from further afield like Cornwall, of course, and the famous bastion of Padstow’s son, Jack, and many many more. To say I was nervous of what they might think of my East London homemade jerky was an understatement.
We stood drinking, chatting and watching as people were being seated and served. I was spying the rooms and popping down to the kitchen to check on preparations. I was seeing empty bags of jerky being taken away with empty trays from the ‘Pub Snacks‘. I saw people get there starters, mains and desserts and I was getting very hungry indeed. Somehow amongst everything that was going on Carl had time to pop up and say hi – true skills this man has. Then at last, later than expected but equally appreciated, our table of eight was ready and we were ushered into the dining arena to sit and feast.
So now, I give you, the food!
The ‘Pub Snacks’
Ah, here it was, my small but enormously rewarding moment, the ‘Pub Snacks‘ were served and I got to see my hard work on the table. Special labels for the day and a special jerky – I know how this tastes as I had been testing it (to see if it was Ok of course) almost every day that week. It was really tender, beefy and with a slightly diluted heat compared to my standard @theribman – Holy F*ck’ version, but still it had a really warm kick. Alongside this were Carl’s handmade pickled back onions, some crispy and crunchy pork scratching and a little apple and meadowsweet (a floral herb similar to elderflower) sauce. His aim here was to remind people of the old tradition of outings to the pub on a Sunday; where in many working class areas, pubs would provide punters with free snacks at the bar. It was a great touch to an already packed menu ahead.
Smoked Treacle Bread, Cornish Salt, Whipped Butter
This was delicious. I got to try it right out of the oven earlier that day and it was just as good. Warmed throughout and with melting whipped butter, the bread was heavy, yet still soft and had a great balance of savoury and sweet to it. I got to steal a loaf later that night and Lauren and I scoffed away at it the following day.
Smoked Looe Scallops, Fresh Curds, Nasturtium Shoots, Crispy Onions, Lime & Lavender Vinegar
Now these scallops were amazing! Cured in Molasses and salt and then smoked over oak. Carl had shown me pictures of these in the days leading up to Sunday and I had imagined they would taste great, but they were even better than I could have hoped. Melt in your mouth tastes of the sea with a light smoky sweetness, you then received an extra tangy twist from the vinegar and fresh curd. Carl’s foraged little flowery shoots not only made it looks delectable and dare I say, pretty; but also added a natural fresh vibe to the starter. Oh and as for his crispy onions, well as I said once before – that is what won him his title as the UK Chilli Champion! They were amazing as always.
Fallow Deer, Rose Hip, Rape & Ransom with Roast Potatoes in Pitt Cue Co Fat Dripping
Well we may never know exactly who did kill (this) Bambi, but we know who ate her. Everyone did. All the plates I saw were cleaned of this tender, pink lean meat. It was exceptionally moist and delicious with a rather mild game taste, not at all overpowering but just enough umph to really deliver the intended punch. Now every good roast comes with a Yorkshire, and from what I hear these Cornish Grill ‘s that have been going on are having a bit of a side line Yorky competition to them. I have not been to any of the others but I can tell you they would have to do something rather phenomenal to even match these big beauties. Served up with the meat & these crispy soft baked batters with a selection of vegetables and some rather special Pitt Cue Co fat dripping roast potatoes! Big connection going on with Tom Adams from the Pitt and Carl – not only did we eat our ‘Pub Snacks‘ & starters off the unique almost enamel prison style Pitt Cue Co plates, but in return Pitt Cue Co are getting Carl in their kitchen (“One week only – Carl unleashed” as Tom put it to me on Twitter) for the week of March 2nd – 9th.
A Side of Shin & Raspberry Stout Pudding
Well this was one rewarding extra to the meal. I didn’t really know what to expect but having this side placed down before us to dig in and share around really made my day. It was a kind of cottage pie with soft shredded tender pulled meat in thick rich sweet gravy. I could have eaten it all to myself and then some. If I could just of had this as the main I would of gone home just as happy as I did later that night (much later that night as it turned out to be).
Sea-buckthorn Sorbet, Posset & Mousse
So throughout the meal I had been glued to my iPhone watching the Cup Final and in the usual Liverpool FC fashion we didn’t make it easy. We gave them a chance; we took it to extra time and then to the almost standard nail biting penalty shootout. By this time dessert had come out and I was sadly not paying the attention I should and so, like the Smoked treacle bread I didn’t get a picture. I have however, stolen one from Adam Layton – so cheers Ad
The desert was a multi-layered set delight. It was both tart and sweet and fruity too. It was so smooth it literally just slipped down the throat at lightening speed. It was topped off with a crunchy, biscuity, dark and rich crumb (sorry mate but it still reminds me of Oreos – not a bad thing I love um!)
So there you go – Disco Bistro killed it! Maybe not the actual Bambi we ate but the whole day was a huge hit and all thanks to Carl’s sick yet genius working mind (and all the suppliers of course!). The food & drink was amazing, Billy Franks got great reviews, everyone left happy, full and Liverpool won the cup! Now all that is left is to hit up Pitt Cue Co this week and see what mischief Carl will get up to with Doris & Ethel (the Pittcuesmokers).
The next Cornish Grill will be on March 25th by the 2011 Master Chef Winner, Tim Anderson
See all 46 individual pictures on the Cornish Grill Gallery: Who Killed Bambi?
Will Yums = ★★★★★ TOP MARKS!
See all 46 individual pictures on the Cornish Grill Gallery: Who Killed Bambi?