Published on April 7th, 2014 | by Gavin1
London Mess at The Dissenting Academy, Stoke Newington
Summary: An innovative take on dishes you know and love
A King's Banquet
Jim Thomlinson is a passionate man; passionate about food that is. Best known for his recent collaboration with The Cornwall Project, a dining experience where fresh produce was driven daily from Cornwall to London in order to get the best ingredients possible, Jim has embarked on a new culinary journey entitled London Mess. He has chosen Stoke Newington’s The Dissenting Academy to host this unique take on what would otherwise be “normal” dishes and I was invited to sample the menu with 8 courses that included everything from smoked scallops to a huge slab of mutton; needless to say I was stuffed by the end.
This is the first time I’ve visited The Dissenting Academy, but having been to a couple of Inn Brighton’s other gastro pubs, I knew there would be plenty of character (see my visit to The Joker of Penton Street). On the walls you’ll find plenty of contemporary artwork including an interesting marble door installation but retains many of the original features of The Clarendon pub which stood here before The Dissenting Academy took over.
Tonight we would be treated to a banquet style sharing dinner but to whet the appetite for the extra-large courses to follow, we are treated to bourbon brined, hay smoked scallop with orange ketchup. You may have a similar frown on your face to the one I had when I was told, but oh my lord it was amazing. The scallop was not too soft and the orange jus gave it a pleasant sweetness on the tongue. I wasn’t the only one to be impressed, as I see synchronised nods of approval from the various journalists and experienced foodies around the table.
This is swiftly followed by three courses, all presented in sharing trays- cod cheek with monk’s beard and pea puree; pork neck and jowel with purple kale, white beets, and shaved fennel; and mussels in a spicy Nduja and tomato sauce. All three were as impressive as they sound; the mussels in chilli sauce were a personal highlight, but special mention must be given to the pork- the fennel and kale presented a cute variation on traditional pork and veg.
After a much needed recess, three more courses arrive- an imposing joint of slow roasted mutton; brill with asparagus and morel mushrooms; and a good old burger (London Mess style of course). In all honesty, I’m not a great fan of mutton but this effort was well worthy of a second helping on my plate. Likewise, as far as fish goes, brill wouldn’t be in my top 10, but I couldn’t get enough when cooked in beurre blanc and garlic #FillMyFace.
With everything so far being not what I expected, it was no surprise that when I bit into the London Mess Burger, there were some unfamiliar tastes. Was it the bacon ketchup? Was it the pickled beetroot? Maybe it was a bit of both, however as somewhat of a burger purest, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of this dish, but at least I can tick ‘eaten a pickled beetroot burger’ off my bucket list.
The final course was the best and arguably the most memorable, as Jim steps out of the kitchen to prepare one of his signature showstopper desserts that he builds in front of guests. Today, he is creating what I’d like to call a deconstructed trifle. Jim starts by placing Prosecco and strawberry jelly on a table and adds all the ingredients one by one including set custard, chocolate brownies, rhubarb, and crumble. It’s a beautiful creation which garners a round of applause from his admiring audience; but just like an overzealous council cleaner with a Banksy painting, soon enough his masterpiece is destroyed by a group of hungry foodies.
I had witnessed first-hand all that London Mess has to offer and would recommend booking a table for this culinary masterclass while you can, as who knows what mad experiment Jim will come up with next! If you are going with a group, call in advance and go for the banquet option for a personalised experience.
London Mess @ The Dissenting Academy, 92 Mildmay Park, N1 4PR