The last time I reviewed ANGLO@TRADE I raved about it. I loved the concept of a private members club exclusively for the hospitality trade, opening its doors to the public for dinner on Saturday nights. Owned by restaurateurs and Master Sommeliers Xavier Rousset and Gerald Devaney, their partnership with Mark Jarvis owner of Michelin starred Anglo is a marriage made in culinary heaven.
I also raved about head chef Anthony Raffo’s extraordinary culinary skills; compiling a truly memorable tasting menu which wouldn’t shame a Michelin star restaurant yet at half the price.
Imagine my delight then, when I received word, hot off the press, that Ruffo had put a brand-new menu together and would welcome some feedback.
No sooner said than done.
Another Saturday night in Frith Street. TRADE’s neighbour, Bar Italia, Soho’s legendary coffee house, is doing brisk business and opposite, Ronnie Scott’s is gearing up for another stellar night of live music.
TRADE, on the other hand, is a welcoming oasis from the buzz of Soho; soft jazz in the background, cocktails being mixed, and in the club’s arched nooks there is socialising and snacking.
We have a table right next to Raffo’s stacked bottles of foraged herbs and plants, slowly fermenting their way from the wall shelf into his kitchen.
The new menu proudly materialises and right away there’s a pleasant surprise; the tasting menu is now just £45. “We really want our food to be front and centre at TRADE.” Says general manager Paul Dunphy, “and the lower price makes Anthony’s culinary skills very affordable for everyone.”
Wise words indeed and very well timed as our first course makes a triumphant appearance. Vegan chicken skin with smoked house curd, kombucha pickled dill and chive. The curd comes on a bowl of brown pebbles, in a small round cup with the chives poking out of the top. Down under the chives, the smoky curd sits like a sleeping treasure waiting to be unveiled.
The crispy vegan chicken skin crackers are made from fermented and fried bean curd skin not unlike small poppadums but much more delicate, and they sit like the curd, on their own bed of barley, and make a delicate platform for spreading the curd. It’s a perfect introduction to Raffo’s clever mix of flavours. Anthony’s take on roast chicken with sour cream and chive dip.
The second course is really two. Torched mackerel, fermented carrot, turnip and seaweed on one plate, and raw Maldon oysters with homemade oat milk, kombu vinegar, apple and dill on a second plate. The blowtorch charred mackerel is a total triumph accompanied by a trio of bedfellows – a circle of white turnip, an orange swirl of carrot puree and similarly coloured crispy triangles of kombu seaweed infused with vinegar, bringing a taste of the sea that obviously pairs with the mackerel perfectly. The raw oysters sit proudly on another bed of pebbles infused with creamy dairy-free oat milk made by simply blitzing water with toasted oats and kombu vinegar. The two plates are combined through the vinegar which appears in both. A very impressive combination.
My dining partner passes on the fish and oysters in favour of a vegetarian alternative of leeks in a curd soup, the likes of which I have never tasted before. The Tunworth camembert-infused leeks taste like rhubarb mixed with cheese and onion.
I kid you not.
Just as we are discussing how good it would be to have some bread to mop up the juices, a basket of chunky St. John’s bakery sourdough appears together with a dollop of beurre noisette and smoky rapeseed oil. Perfect timing.
All these courses were paired perfectly with a glass of gloriously chilled Sylvanee from the Alsace region of France. A perfect example of TRADE’s enviable expertise in sourcing wines at trade prices courtesy of its sommelier owners.
The main event is up next. Poached chicken with egg yolk, barley, broccoli and fermented wild garlic. The chicken is perfectly poached in thyme-infused rapeseed oil and topped with an egg yolk cooked for an hour at 65c sitting above crispy chicken skin that was removed and oven-roasted before being returned. The pureed broccoli sits in a mound joined to the chicken by a bridge of garlic sauce. It is a very clever combination and a play on the chicken and egg conundrum. Well worthy of the main event billing.
Strangely, I have moved from white to red with a pairing of a very user-friendly south African Molineux syrah. Flying in the face of tradition, this red works perfectly well with the poached chicken.
Raffo’s signature cheese dish is up next. Tried, tested and brilliant. I remembered this from last time and the repeat performance is just as delicious. Tunworth Camembert with raisins and puffed rice. A deconstructed cheese and biscuits. Genius.
As an encore two palate cleansers to finish up: sea buckthorn granita (an orange sour berry mainly found in the Himalayas) whisked with egg yolk and fresh honey from London rooftop beehives which turns it all into a sort of custard. Nowhere near as sweet as solo honey can often be, which is perfect for my not very sweet teeth. Followed by a plate of toasted hay ice cream (yes you read it correctly. It makes for a toasted buttery biscuit flavour), sunchoke (a Scandinavian version of artichoke), sourdough crumbs, kale and dandelion root coffee.
Notably, I mentioned in my last review how challenging it must be for Anthony to be judged by his peers every night. Serious chefs are club members, and it takes real character to create dishes as unusual and delicious as these and have the confidence to put them on the menu.
This is Michelin standard food at crazily low prices. You really don’t want to miss out on this.
Food images (c) Andy Mossack
Tell Me More About ANGLO@TRADE
Anglo@Trade 7 course tasting menu by Anthony Raffo £45pp with wine pairings available at an additional charge. 12.00pm -2.30pm and 5.30pm – 9.30pm. Snacks are also available from 11 pm – 3 am.
TRADE Members Club, 23 Frith St, Soho, London W1D 4RR
T: 020 7434 1724 Table reservations: Sevenrooms