Having spent most of the last year working down in New Malden (and living as I do at towards the north end of North London) I’ve really not eaten out in central London very much lately. So in the week following the end of my contract, I’ve really made up for lost time, eating out almost every day of my first week off.
The Cornwall Project Dining Room in the Newman Arms pub, a short walk from Tottenham Court Road station, has made a big impression on many food lovers I know in the 6 months since it opened late last summer. This new restaurant resides in one of London’s oldest pubs, the charming and tiny Newman Arms having been established back in 1730. Downstairs remains a small traditional boozer; upstairs is an equally cosy dining room – booking a table in advance is strongly recommended.
Behind the project are Matt Chatfield of the Cornwall Project and chef Eryk Bautista, a name I’d never heard before but will absolutely remember now I’ve tasted his cooking. Matt set up the Cornwall Project a few years ago, keen to find new markets for fresh Cornish fish, meat and vegetables after a slump in orders from Spain, previously a big consumer of the region’s high quality produce. In the last few years, he has successfully established long term relationships to supply some of London’s top restaurants including The Ledbury, Lyle’s and Pitt Cue. More recently, he has teamed up with chefs to establish residencies in pubs, the Newman Arms being the latest of these partnerships.
Given the shockingly low price at lunch, two courses for £15 and three for £19, it was a pleasant surprise to be served a plate of very fresh, very tasty bread and good quality butter.
My friend Katy was more than happy with her heritage carrots, smoked ricotta, blood orange & hazelnuts – she’d really enjoyed a similar dish featuring beetroot and ricotta on a previous visit and this version lived up to her memory. It was also utterly beautiful on the plate.
I was far too busy eating my Cotswold egg, smoked mash, wild garlic and toasted buckwheat to get the money shot of oozing egg yolk so you’ll have to take my word for it that it was absolutely perfect; cooked sous vide I think. I loved the combination of flavours and ingredients, especially that lightly smoked mash with the wild garlic sauce, the softness of egg, mash and sauces relieved by that scattering of super crunchy toasted buckwheat.
Katy’s main of hake, cauliflower, cider and Coolea featured one of my all-time favourite cheeses. She confirmed that the fish was perfectly cooked, fresh and full of flavour and perfect with the cauliflower, cider and cheese.
For sides, we shared the crispy pink fir with herb mayonnaise, lovely fried delights that reminded me a lot of the beef-dripping potatoes Pete and I had enjoyed at the Bukowski Grill two days earlier. More mayonnaise would have been welcome, but a minor niggle.
White sprouting broccoli with almonds & cardamon yoghurt was another super side dish; I’d never have thought to combine these ingredients but they were wonderfully well balanced and very light too.
The star of the show for me was my pork belly, chicory, miso, peanuts & coriander. Not only was the pork belly cooked as well as I’ve ever had it – soft meat, unctuously melty fat and a super crisp crackling with just the right amount of chew – that charred chicory with peanuts, miso and coriander puree was utterly heavenly. One of the best vegetable sides I’ve ever had.
I still cannot get over the bargain of this level of cooking, of this quality of ingredients, for just £15 for two courses, with sides just £3 extra each.
Too full for dessert, we resisted the cheese board and the cake, but next time I’m coming as hungry as I can!
Definitely one to visit again and again!