Published on October 7th, 2016 | by Ben Southwood0
Summary: Fusion cuisine done surprisingly well
As a rule, I think that two cuisine traditions is enough. Everyone should stick to what they do best. We don’t really need a restaurant that serves ramen but also fish and chips—how can you possibly do both well? But there is a lot of good stuff you can do with fusion. Nanban in Brixton offers a swathe of Caribbean-Japanese fusion dishes that don’t always hit the spot, but you’re really glad they exist, whether or not you’re quite sure that curry goat tsukumen actually works. But anything more than two traditions and you’re really getting towards the horrors of a global buffet, or the nightmarish menus that canteens sometimes offer. No one is good at curry, kebabs, fish tacos and burgers. No one.
So you’d expect that Foley’s—that takes influence from food culture all around the world, and seems to have no fixed geographic anchor at all—would be terrible. But you’d be terribly wrong. Foley’s makes barely a single mis-step across the whole of its widely varied menu, despite the fact that all the dishes are essentially experiments. Nothing is a new iteration of a tried-and-tested culinary classic, a recipe kept alive only because it served generation after generation well. No—Foley’s offers you sticky tamarind pork belly and crackers with peanuts embedded right in and a sort of popcorn chicken and, magically, it all works.
It’s right in the middle of a beautiful bit of Fitzrovia, not so far from Marylebone, and set over two floors. Downstairs houses the kitchen and a few dark tables under arches—we sat there. Upstairs, as well as the tables, has a bar, which is open to the street, where there are a few high stools, and where you can enjoy their special gin and tonic or a beer.
Food-wise, we started with crackers—dry, crunchy, savourified by the embedded peanut studs and served with a tomato sambal. We had some decent grilled bits of chicken thigh: meaty and juicy but without grease (or their bones). Surprisingly, we ended up ordering some cauliflower, and I guess it was about as good as grilled or roasted cauliflower can be; still somewhat firm, but it mostly tasted of the yoghurty tzatziki. Sticky beef did what it said on the tin. It was something like beef cheef, slow cooked till it was a collection of stuck-together shreds of beef.
The two best dishes were chicken and pork. The chicken was popcorn chicken, crusted in cornflakes and paired with corn in a lovely theming. It was just as fried bits of chicken should be: slightly moist inside and bone dry on the outside. And the slightly sweet clean corn flavour paired perfectly with the meaty fried chicken. The pork belly came with a whole host of contributing ingredients: mostly fresh and zingy ingredients to cut through its unctuous fattiness. But what made the dish so good was the sourcing and preparation of the meat: it was just perfect, close to suckling pig in its tenderness, all of the fat melted into flavour and juiciness.
The best restaurants almost always focus on doing one thing correctly, rather than doing a few things decently, or a lot of things badly. Foley’s is the exception that proves the rule.
23 Foley St, Fitzrovia, W1W 6DUShare This Post