In the latter half of this year Ben Spalding has shown himself to be one of the leading lights of the London culinary scene. The young talented chef has been on something of a tour de force since leaving his post as head chef at Roganic to pursue his own endeavours.
And pursue them he has. Following stints at The Ledbury and a series of Roast Sunday events with Daniel young, Spalding's Stripped Back has very quickly grown into a fully mature concept which has seen him push the boundaries of what diners expect and are comfortable with.
It was then, with only a small amount of surprise that Spalding recently held his first 'Stripped Back Sunday', not in a school playground, but in the comfortable surroundings of Redhook in Farringdon. Sunday's service at Redhook snagged many a palate and was no doubt responsible for mass conversion for any who may have been agnostic about the simple, pared down and raw offerings which have so quickly come to characterise Spalding's style at Stripped Back.
On the evening, cutlery and wine glasses were given to guests, but all dishes were served out of polystyrene - a deliberate move to force diners to focus more on the food rather than the service ware? Spalding wouldn't be drawn.
The food served demonstrated a certain maturation of the stripped back concept, with a number of familiar dishes making their way back to the menu, interspersed with newer, more seasonal and adventurous offerings.
With the outdoor version of stripped back a (mostly) alcohol free affair, wines for the evening were provided by Redhook, whom are currently in the process of regenerating their offering and tweaking their menu.
Matching to such complex food is never an easy task, but was made light work of thanks to inspired selections by resident 'corker' Ruth of new world white and red- which majored on the southern hemisphere.
Bottles of Jules Taylor Pinot Gris from Marlborough, A-Z Riesling from Oregon, and Journeys End Merlot from Stellenbosch quickly disappeared.
The Menu was as follows:
To start: Blackberry mulberry tea fizz
1. Wild Trout - sweetcorn cream, nectarine, bitter gourd juice
2. Pink Fir Potatoes - smoked paprika cream cheese, kale dressing & seeds
3. Cornish Plaice - young October vegetables, shaved brazil nuts & cider butter
4. Beef Broth - cooked for 12 hours with Kimchi, Thai long beans & San Mazanos
5. Hot Bramley Apple & Lemongrass Crumble
6. Fennel Steeped in Aniseed
Stripped Back has now finished its run for 2012 and will reappear in Spring of 2013.
Spalding's next venture, John Salt launches next month - for more information see Hot Dinners
Thanks again to Redhook and Ben for a great night.