Oh My. Oh My. I am a humble guy, but I must say, I made a great decision this night. Before going out, I decided to treat my wife and I to dinner at Rok Islington. I had read a lot about this place and knew it was one of the new places in London to visit. The critics loved it, the foodies had all been raving on about it, so I finally plucked up the courage to go. Being spontaneous is what keeps my marriage life happy.
Rok; what is it?
Using their words it is:
"We're about simplicity & smoke.
Rök smokehouse is influenced by the old cooking techniques of Northern Europe. We specialise in brined and cured British meats, all cooked on fire served alongside fermented and preserved seasonal UK produce."
Simple and Smoke. Sounds good. Looking at the menu, I was confident that RoK would live up to the hype. Reading the menu, made me want to order everything, but we were advised to choose a dish each from each section. On this eve, we were not too hungry so avoided the starters ( I won't miss out next time) and therefore ordered a Main each, with a side too.
We ordered the Guinea Fowl and Duck as our mains and with these we had Cauliflower cheese and Burnt Sweet Potatoes as our sides. It doesn't sound like much but it was more than enough. My belly cannot handle much these days.
All four dishes can be described as EPIC. I don't use this term often, however RoK offered me the opportunity to use it, purely based on the food. The sides matched the mains and at times I treated all four as four main dishes. I mean, although Laura and I ordered separately, we are so in Love that we always share. YEAH! well cringe worthy.
Visually, each dish was equally EPIC too. The use of colours worked perfectly on this autumn night and with a seasonal menu, you get what you want, when you need it. On Halloween weekend, this meant Orange and Root veg with Sweet Potato, a pumpkin mash, Roast Parsnip and Mushroom. Makes you feel warm already. Warm and Smokey in fact.
The two sides were spectacular. The cauliflower cheese had beef dust on it and this was a key factor in us ordering it. The rich cheese and heat of the dish made it easy for us not to devour it all in one go and made it last throughout our meal. The beef dusting was subtle but added a nice earthiness to the dish. Good work RoK.
The burnt sweet potato mash was also up there, if not better. The horseradish creme fraiche gave a nice contrast to the sweet potato that worked perfectly. Who would have thought it? Potato and Creme Fraiche; not me. The horseradish element and burnt potato added an array of textures which made Laura and I keep on returning to this dish. Laura was full before me and this left me the chance to finish the rest of this dish off, when a lot was still left.
Mallard and Quail. Not two dishes you would order too often, or see on a menu. I haven't done my research on Nordic food, but if this is what the locals have in Norway, then please book me a flight.
The meat on both were cooked really well. The quail coming off the bone with minimal effort, whilst the mallard meat was tender and juicy. The warmth of the veg alongside each dish made it really hearty and very filling too.
I would say the food is definitely top quality and up there with places that have rosettes or Michelin stars and the great thing with RoK is that the portion sizes are very generous. I would say that if we have ordered starters, we probably would have not finished the main courses and sides.
This smokehouse puts as much attention to all aspects of the dish in order to make it a winner. The smoke on the puree or the mushroom and even on the cheese; all make this little restaurant a big destination in London. A quick word on the service; this could be a bit better. Our waitress spent a lot of her time waiting for the food and not being attentive, so it did take a while to get her attention for extra drinks and the bill at the end.
A great night of food with a great use of seasonal food and flavours. Thank you to a great night of RoK and ROLL. GET IT.