Favourite Forks: From Refreshing Dining at 8 Hoxton Square to Sabrina Ghayour’s Persian Feast

17 May, 2014

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A selection of small plates at the buzz-worthy 8 Hoxton Square

Refreshing Dining at 8 Hoxton Square

I am bound to become a regular at 10 Greek Street’s baby sister restaurant 8 Hoxton Square. With a charming, casual atmosphere, a winning menu, sizeable sun-lit patio and (gasp!) the capability to take bookings – this is how dining should be.

As Marina O’Loughlin says, the menu is made up of dishes you would really want to eat: from sweet and squeaky-fresh king prawns with spicy chorizo, wild rocket and a saffron aioli to their in-house smoked duck – a joyous pink – with earthy lentils, roasted hazelnuts and chicory.

I also love their interpretation of potted Dorset crab – traditionally served with clarified butter, this dish is light and so fresh, using lots of brown crab meat and finished with a summery lemon and fennel-seed jelly, and served with shaved fennel.

The gnudi – a dish I am seeing and eating all around town – is also divine: lovely and seasonal with nettle and morels. All with a fresh mint tea to finish – what’s not to like?

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8 Hoxton Square’s in-house smoked duck

Sabrina Ghayour’s Persian Kitchen

Having delighted over Sabrina Ghayour’s new cookbook, Persiana, I couldn’t wait to go straight to the source and try her food at her Persian supper club.

From her small flat in Earls Court, she served a relative feast with a real sense of generosity – from lamb, herb and sour-cherry meatballs, pounded for a long time before cooking so they are light and delightful, to rainbow trout (an underrated fish, in my opinion) roasted and stuffed with spicy, citrus-spiked herb and pine-nut stuffing.

The rice – Persian steamed basmati with sugar, almonds, pistachios, sour orange peel and barberries – I can confidently say is the best rice dish I have tasted, and the blush orange, radicchio and pomegranate salad with fresh dill, sumac and pomegranate vinaigrette, is pure poetry.

Pretty and poetic is how I would describe her dishes – so authentic, and with a lot of thought and style. Generous and charismatic is how I would describe Sabrina – I can’t wait to come across her again.

The elegant Hakkasan

“Drunch” at Hakkasan

Whether you call it late lunch, early dinner, linner or drunch, we had an inspired early evening meal at Hakkasan last Sunday.

Although fans of their Sunday dim sum, we decided to go for something a little different when their black-truffle roast duck dish seemed to speak to me from their menu.

Served with tea-plant mushrooms and lacquered on top, making it really crispy, the duck was meltingly soft and felt quite extravagant.

With the duck, we also had morning glory stir-fried in a chilli, reserved bean curd and ginger sauce and some steamed rice – a beautiful meal. 

Things heating up at Horn OK Please on the Southbank

Horn OK Please Pops-up on Southbank

If interested in South Asia, head to the Southbank Centre today until Monday, May 26th for their annual Alchemy Festival – celebrating the best in South-Asian art, culture and, of course, cuisine.

Indian and vegetarian street-food favourite, Horn OK Please, of Borough Market, KERB and Real Food Festival fame, is hosting a pop-up on Queens Walk until the 26th.

Serving lunches or dinners that won’t weigh you down – like their Pav Bhaji, a spicy mix of vegetables mashed with fresh tomatoes, a dollop of butter, fresh onion and coriander and a side pav, or their Egg Kati Roll, an Indian omelette rolled in a parata wrap with chutneys.

I would recommend trying their smaller dishes too. If looking for a pre-theatre snack, their version of Bhel Puri, with sev, puffed rice, vegetables, chutneys and pomegranate seeds is plentiful and unusual, and great value at £3. Pairing with a pint of Cobra is a must.

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The perfect alternative snack: Bhel Puri and a Cobra