A pop-up English restaurant within a pop-up French restaurant: it sounds like the start of a joke with a groan-worthy punchline. But David Moore, owner of the Michelin-starred restaurants Pied a Terre and L’Autre Pied, was serious when he invited Check On to bring an English-inspired menu to his short-term restaurant Pieds Nus. Every Monday evening until March 10, Check On – a pairing between young chef Terry Edwards and Burberry model-cum-singer George Craig – will be hosting an evening dedicated to the fine fare of Albion at Moore’s Marylebone dining room. This Is England is nostalgic in nature – the menu boasts Heritage potatoes with chives and crisps from Tiptoe Farm in Northumberland, configurated like a stone circle no less; a Cornish pasty filled with mackerel and crayfish from Port Isaac, Padstow; and, a favourite all around, George’s Mum’s Yorkshire pudding with onion gravy. He wasn’t kidding when he told us it was the best Yorkshire pudding we’re likely to have – and before now, it was only available in her kitchen. Thick vanilla English cream topped with burnt sugar – a British crème brûlée, if you will – is the only nod to French cuisine, though the dish originates from Trinity College, Cambridge, and not from across the Channel.
"Craig wasn’t kidding when he told us his mum's was the best Yorkshire pudding we’re likely to have"
Edwards, who has worked with English restaurateur extraordinaire, Mark Hix, shows off his estimable talents in the kitchen with creations including the inventive Rock oyster with Maldon stout and beef cheek pie, served in the oyster shell, and the highly textured pressed leg of corn-fed chicken with caramelised cauliflower and Lancashire cheese. Not your run-of-the-mill cauliflower cheese, then. Normally the frontsman for indie band, One Night Only, here Craig as front-of-houseman has added atmosphere-inducing touches including a full-on English playlist, and small cards are handed out with each dish explaining more about its origins or the producers behind it. Resonant in all the right ways, This Is England isn’t a themed dining experience – the impetus behind it is more humble than that – while the food balances homemade warmth with all the benefits of contemporary technique, avoiding any ersatz gestures. Overall a joyous evening out, full of mirth for all the right reasons.
This Is England is on every Monday until March 10 at Pied Nus, 19 Blandford St, London W1U 3DG. Booking essential
Text by Ananda Pellerin