There’s nothing worse than being on a hot, crowded Tube. Oh no, wait a minute, yes there is: being on a hot, crowded Tube with hundreds of Olly Murs fans. Now I love the Jubilee line. I have lived on the Jubilee line for ten years and only deemed my fiancé worthy of our first date because he also lived on the Jubilee line. But on this occasion I felt nothing but intense loathing for the fifty-year-old women in sequined tops, swinging their bingo wings in my face, and the teenage girls stroking freshly straightened hair and reapplying No.17 lip gloss as though about to meet Olly for a date. Why the Tube rant? Well, the third restaurant venture from Stevie Parle is a stone’s throw from The O2 in North Greenwich, so a word of warning: if you’re dining at Craft London and intend to take the Tube, check if anyone’s got a gig that night and travel after 8pm. And if you’re going to a show then take advantage of Craft London’s sixty-minute menu and experience some of the best fresh food south of the river.
I felt nothing but intense loathing for the fifty-year-old women in sequined tops, swinging their bingo wings in my face, and the teenage girls stroking freshly straightened hair and reapplying No.17 lip gloss
If you don’t believe me, then listen to the combination of words in the first starter: “chopped highland beef, dripping, pear, crisps and salmon roe”. Close your eyes. Picture it. It’s got beef, dripping and crisps all in one – a Roysters dream. My Yorkshire roots did a little jig at the mere notion. But this is no stodge fest, nor is it “hearty fare”. Parle and his team have taken homegrown, basic ingredients and beautifully trimmed, tweaked and twirled them into art worthy of hanging in a gallery. A dainty plate of cerise-pink beef was freshly diced, cool, scattered with crisp shavings of roasted pear and sprinkled with little pearly bursts of salmon roe.
In my arrogant opinion, there is nothing more exciting than scanning a menu and wanting everything. Normally there are two, maybe three things that leap out, one of which on closer reading will contain some nasty piece of avocado or a parsley-drenched nightmare sauce that will help me rule it out and narrow down the choices, but Craft London has that rare menu where you want it all. Seriously. There was cured Galloway beef leg, fresh cheese, beetroots and radish leaves, and then simply “Langoustine. British lardo.” Yes, to both. Now. And that was just the starters.
For mains I dithered between the Galloway beef sirloin, marrowbone bread sauce (salivating at the memory), and lovage liquor, and the Ross chicken, bone broth and dumplings with ramson emulsion, pickled Alexanders, pork scratchings and Kombucha egg. No I haven’t a clue what Alexanders are, but who cares because it comes with BONE BROTH AND PORK SCRATCHINGS and like everything on the menu, comes exclusively from British producers.
Fortunately the good people at Craft have had the sense to put most of their best bits on the tasting menu so there was a medley of six of the starters plus the Galloway marrowbone marvel, so I was a happy girl.
Now away from the food for a moment. The restaurant is housed on the first floor of a big round glass building, bang in the middle of the no-man’s land outside The O2. And it’s this that will put people off impromptu visits. But on sunny days Craft London will do well. It has big velvety booths at its core and a rim of tables along the windows. All the fresh herbs and leaves and shoots and roots that lace every single dish are grown on site in big boxes in the concrete – where from time to time the chef has to shoo away passers-by from stubbing out fags in the plants. The wines are carefully selected for their eco-friendly production processes, with emphasis on the love and effort that goes into their production. When I dined, each course was paired with a selection of SW6 wines, made in the UK’s only Urban Winery in West London. And they were good.
Halfway through my meal, I looked at my dining partner who was attending to the rotund browned scallop sitting perkily on a steaming bed of creamy porridge. What did he think? “I’m just focused on the fact that the cutlery says David Mellor,” he replied. Craft London will do that to you. Lull you into a stupor and suddenly you realise it’s 11pm, you’ve been there for four hours and now there’s a river of Olly Murs fans pouring out of the arena and you have to face them for the second time in one day. But by then it doesn’t matter. I’d take on a whole Tube-load of Olly Murs fans every day for another mouthful of that beef and crisps. C
Craft London, 1 Green Pl, London SE10 0PE UK
020-8465 5910; craft-london.co.uk