Lately, I have been trying to expand the range of restaurants I visit and try new and different things. Normally with halal food, it’s either burgers, Indian or Turkish, so last year after some research I wrote about 48 alternative halal restaurants. On this list is a modern British restaurant called the frog and always wanted to go, but never got around to it.
But, after watching every episode of ‘Masterchef: The Professionals 2017’ I really wanted to try something like the food I saw on the show, and what better place than a restaurant where the head chef finished 4th this year on Masterchef.
The restaurant is from Award Winning chef, Adam Handling, who was a finalist on Masterchef a few years back.
I saw an offer on Twitter for January, five courses for £39 Inc. a drink and I couldn’t pass on it. I rounded up some adventurous foodies, pre-ordered halal, booked a table for four and counted the days.
The restaurant is located off Brick Lane, opposite the infamous Mother Clucker. It’s split into two areas, the main dining area – a modern open space with a good atmosphere that looks into the kitchen and a cosy area that is more relaxed and warm.
We sat on swing chairs, the tables were rustic, and despite the cold outside, the warm glow of the heating made sure we didn’t feel the cold.
We were met by Ferenc, the restaurant manager. He is getting a mention here as I have to really comment about his service and knowledge when it came to halal food.
He explained that the meat is from a halal supplier so doesn’t require pre-ordering. However, it is not certified. If guests require certification then they can request it, but it needs a few days notice.
Next, he was very knowledgeable about what was halal and not for us. He went through each dish and said what was okay for us, for example, some desserts use alcohol or the gelatin is made from beef which not halal. He did this without asking and made some substitutions where needed.
Okay. Time to talk about the food!
The meal comes with a drink, in the halal case, we got to chose any soft drink we wanted, I asked for anything sweet and got a nice refreshing mocktail.
We started with chicken butter, guess butter infused with chicken, Halal of course. This was more than just a pre-starter or bread and butter, the butter was rich and had a very nice flavour of chicken – a simple but nice start.
Celeriac, yolk, apple, dates
There was a rawness about the dish in terms of textures and taste, but the magic was that it was all brought together in such a well thought out and well-refined manner. You get to experience a journey of spice, crunch, cream, fluffy eggs, melt in your mouth dates and a whole lot more. It may look simple, but each mouthful took you on a different trip through flavour town.
Pollack, limestone potato, crab, reddish.
The dish can only be described as simple but elegant. The Pollack was cooked to perfection, light, delicate and soft. The skin had an incredible kick and crunch which complimented the dish well. The rest of the elements of the dish were so gentle in my mouth it sent me into a little cloudy daze.
Beef rump, sour cream, artichokes, black garlic.
The beef itself was juicy and tender and cooked to perfection; a strong staple. However, the other elements of the dish had a life of their own and added a real spark to bring the whole thing to life. Despite being a meat dish, I could happily eat this without the beef.
The artichokes and the accompanying sauces had such a deep rich sweet earthy flavour. This was one of my TOP all time dishes.
We got some pre-dessert treats, for an additional £3 supplement, we added cheese doughnuts.
Imagine fluffy clouds made of doughnut oozing with rich cheese. I’m not even a cheese fan but this was sooo good.
We then got a complimentary pre-dessert treat called,Beetroot, beetroot and more beetroot (guess what’s in it?); have you ever had an explosion of beetroot in your mouth. This was an intense zingy hit of freshness.
The dessert was a vegan dark chocolate tofu with a raspberry granita which was actually a lovely dessert and a perfect way to end the meal. The ultimate compliment to the dish was the fact you would never be able to tell it was Vegan and you would probably choose it over other desserts.
Every ingredient felt like it had a purpose on the plate, all the subtle flavour profiles worked in perfect harmony creating a symphony of delicious notes in each dish. (That’s the fanciest sentence I’ve ever written). The tasting menu is a great way to really enjoy the chef’s creativity. The food had a sense of story and theatre, and each dish was introduced by a chef who came to the table to tell us the background and thought behind each dish.
If you have ever wanted to try a dining experience that captures the imagination then head to The Frog. The restaurant is excellent in every sense; the dishes are creative, brave, and experiential. The service was outstanding and their knowledge of providing us with food that met our strict halal requirements was second to none. It’s a restaurant where they care about every tiny detail, even to the level of matching their plates to echo the story of the dish. Service was great, the gaps between each course was perfect.
I’ve eaten at Gordon Ramsay Hospital Road, Marcus, The Ledbury, Core and many other high end British/European restaurants and without question, this was one my best, in fact, it was one of the best meals I’ve had. Ever. I just loved it.