Posted on Thursday, 17th December 2015
PERILLA AT PLATFORM 1
Perilla at Platform 1 is a London dining pop-up founded by Chef Ben Marks who previously cooked at the two Michelin starred restaurants NOMA and The Square, and Matt Emmerson who was previously the restaurant manager at Polpo and Polpetto. After a series of pop-up successes, Perilla recently launched a 4-month residency at Platform 1 on the 10th November, a new permanent pop-up restaurant and wine bar in located in the heart of East Dulwich. Located on Lordship Lane, Platform 1 has an informal neighbourhood vibe.
Head chef Ben’s cookery career began at age 15 at One Michelin Starred Operakaellarens in Stockholm. After completing a 3-year apprenticeship at Claridges, during which time NOMA did a pop-up in Claridges, Rene Redzepi took Ben back to Denmark with him. Ben spent about a year working under Rene Redzepi at the two star giant before returning to the UK to join Phil Howard at The Square.
Ben and Matt’s idea with Perilla was to bring fine-dining to a broader market, by making it less formal and more accessible and affordable. Using his Michelin starred training Ben has developed a creative menu full of fun, flair and flavour, cooked with fresh and seasonal ingredients. In the back garden of Platform 1, Perilla has a herb and vegetable area where produce is grown to service the pop-up, both in the cooking and in the drinks.
The six-course tasting menu was sensational value at £35 and began with bite-size canapés of Roasted Kale with Cod Roe and Crisp Chicken Wing Stuffed with Mushroom. The roasted kale was really fabulous. The kale was light and crispy, and beautifully flavoured with the mellow saltiness of the cod roe. The cod roe itself was wonderful. Rather than roe eggs itself, it had been used to produce these lovely droplets of cod roe cream. For added flavour, a sprinkling of mushroom powder had been used.
As for the chicken wings, these were very well seasoned with a beautifully crispy skin. Sandwiched between two pieces of chicken wings was a mushroom duxelle. The chicken wings were tasty, but I found the mushroom filling a little too soft.
From the a la carte menu, we ordered a serving of flatbread (£3) with a brown butter emulsion and pickled shallots. This was delight to eat. The bread was warm and the butter was dreamily good. It was nutty and sweet and had been whisked to a heady lightness. It was quite rich, but the mellow acidity of the shallots worked really well to balance out the richness of the butter. It all went swimmingly with the bread.
Next was a delicious dish of pan-fried duck egg served with a mussel remoulade, chopped samphire piles and a lovage and mussel broth. This was an incredibly interesting and intriguing plate of food. The egg was lovely, and the deep earthy and sea flavours of the lovage and mussel broth contrasted really nicely with the runny egg yolk. The remoulade and samphire added further dimension and texture to the plate.
Pot Roast Cauliflower with Curd and Lardo followed. The cauliflower had been cooked in butter and was meltingly soft. To complete the buttery effect was a thin slice of lardo melted on top of the cauliflower. As accompaniments, there was some cow curd for added creaminess, some sour cherries for touches of both sweetness and acidity, and some crunchy breadcrumbs for added texture. This was another complex and intriguing dish, made particularly more so by the wonderful use of the sour cherries. My only comment on this dish is that I would have preferred the cauliflower more with a firmer texture.
The two of us spent some time debating which out of these two dishes was our favourite. But once we tried the main plate of grilled pork chop, we were both unanimous in deciding that this was the outright winner of the evening. The grilled pork chop had been cooked sous vide, finished in a pan and then sliced. The execution had been perfect and it was delicious and meltingly tender. The pork was served with a chard puree, some buttery kale, cooked apples, pickled chard stems and a fabulous cime di rapa sauce which brought all of the elements of the plate together. There were also shards of crackling which was good and crunchy, but which was also a touch salty. This dish was a true joy to eat, and something that I would happily order again and again.
Dessert provided a light finish to the meal and was a refreshing pear poached in apple juice, and served with a light dusting of fresh herbs including coriander, dill, tarragon and pineapple sage. There was also a lemon thyme sauce and a frozen creme fraiche to round of the dish.
I loved the food by Perilla. It was sublimely good, and at £35 for the tasting menu, it was also really good value. So what did I love about it? Firstly, the food was wonderfully original and daring to be different. Secondly, the produce used was of great quality, and thirdly, the execution was spot on. I had barely a complaint other than some slight over seasoning on the pork crackling. This wasn’t quite the fancy haute cuisine that you get from the top ranked restaurants – it didn’t boast of all the bells and whistles. Rather, it was accessible fine dining that made for comfortable, joyful eating. Platform 1 as a venue itself made for a noisy experience, but at such good value prices, I didn’t really mind.
1) I enjoyed all the food, but my very, very favourite was the pork dish. This would be one dish I could easily eat again.
1) The venue was rather noisy.
Food rating: 4.5/5
Service rating: 4/5