“Despite its name, the flavours could pack more punch”
So…, Flavour Bastard. Where? Soho obviously! It sits quietly, unlike its name, on the former site of Arbutus. Wait, cross that off, it has a gold splashed door. Entering it you are greeted by a beautifully slick interior, if not a bit hotel lobby slick, as my fellow ‘virgin bastard’ put it. Who doesn’t love an Architect inspired interior… nobody with me? Guess my architecture training makes me appreciate these minute details in which this was designed by AfroditiKrassa and inspired by Italian architect Carlo Scarpa.
Everything smells of a brand new restaurant. From the pleasantly eager waitstaff to the instagrammable furnishings, tableware and menus. I can’t quite help myself but start taking photos of everything. I’m smitten with their decor and branding. Service is proper but relaxed and there seems to be someone waiting for you on each thing from ordering to drinks to serving food.
Like a moth drawn to a flame, I love their lighting fixtures and the gold speckles on the wall!
The menu comprises of tiny plates, small plates; which can be enlarged to become larger small plates? and desserts. Sticking to ingredients we prefer we ordered a range of small plates to share and felt that 2/3 small plates per person were an ample amount of food. The executive chef here is Pratap Chahal who has worked at the Cinnamon Club among other well-known institutions and is known for cooking with scents, hence the occasional fragrant herbs seen on the menu.
Bread & butter – pickled onion & turmeric butter; Fat of the Land (beef, pork and lamb drippings, crispy chicken skin)
I feel like both these dips would work better in something more dippable. The butter had a nice hint of turmeric with light hints of the pickled onion whilst the Fat of the Land was like eating crispy, meaty, buttery fat. I mean that in the best possible way!
Miso & Mango glazed aubergine, peanut buckwheat crumble
I absolutely adore aubergine and I know a well-cooked aubergine when I eat one. This was beautifully cooked with hints of sweetness matched with the crunchy peanut buckwheat crumble, divine.
Roast sweet potato, fennel yoghurt, sunflower seeds, chilli popcorn
This was sure to work and it does just that. The sweet potato is velvety smooth and is punctured by the chilli popcorn. I do wonder whether the popcorn could be substituted with something that packs a bit more flavour though.
Dingley Dell pork belly with cinnamon & clove, bacon jam, pickled carrot.
The pork belly was the most tender I’ve ever eaten but I found the bacon jam far too overpowering with nothing else kicking through it. The pickled carrot should probably do that but it served a more decorative purpose in this respect.
Smoked goat, pomegranate & frankincense, orange, tarragon
This sounds amazing on paper but was sadly a little forgettable. There was a distinctive smokiness to the goat and flavours that were in some ways akin to a Peking duck wrap. The flatbread it was sitting on was a bit limp and the meat could be less shredded to give it more of a bite.
Tandoori Fried Chicken (TFC)
Is this the new FC in town? The morsels of fried chicken were served with a white wine vinaigrette. The chicken was succulent and had hints of tandoori chicken spices. The batter could be more distinct and crispier but other than that a decent piece of fried chicken.
Bergamot tart with Japanese red bean, macadamia praline, banana ice cream (we changed it to the lavender ice cream)
I was a little hesitant on this. In fear of eating a bar of soap, with my dining partners insistence on paring the Bergamot tart with lavender instead of banana ice cream, we ordered it anyway. I can gladly say your soap does not taste like this. The lavender ice cream has strong lavender notes but surprisingly not overdone, with the creaminess of the ice cream coming through as well. This can also be said for the Bergamot tart though I found the red bean to be pretty much non-existent.
Mango & Scotch Bonnet Lassi (non-alcoholic version)
Personally, I would prefer this to be a bit sweeter and there wasn’t enough mango taste for me with the plain yoghurt overpowering all the flavours. A stronger hint of chilli would also have been better.
Whilst Flavour Bastard claims to be inspired by flavours from around the world there is a heavy influence from the Indian subcontinent. One improvement would be to spike the flavour level of the chillies and pickles. At the moment they are a tad meek. In general, the veggies pack more flavour than the meats.
I lament on the growing difficulty in finding an exciting yet affordable restaurant in London that I’ve yet to visit. When did 30 become the new 20! (This can be said for more things than price!)
Flavour Bastard is a decent new addition to the Soho scene. With more refinement, the flavours could potentially pack a greater punch but right now it doesn’t add anything new to Soho besides its punchy name.
Address: 63-64 Frith Street, London, W1D 3JW
Telephone: 0207 734 4545
Mind The Gap:
Mon – Thurs: 12pm – 10:30pm
Fri – Sat: 12pm – 11pm
Sun: 12pm – 10pm
Panda ate, shot and left.
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