We may be still waiting for the promised permanent site for AngloThai, but fortunately we don’t have to wait any longer to eat John Chantarasak’s food. Lovely Luca founders Johnny Smith and Daniel Willis have teamed up with Secret Cinema’s Tom Allott, Andrea Moccia and Sabrina Goreeba to create Outcrop, with AngloThai as their first culinary collaboration.
Self-described as ‘a green social club’ aiming to provide an oasis where people can meet up and have fun, Outcrop has all the cool urban garden party vibes plus a planet-friendly ethos, which pairs well with Chantarasak’s no-waste philosophy and focus on sustainable local produce. As for the venue, 180 Strand is the gift that keeps on giving. I discovered 180 Studios first, a gallery space that focuses on digital art and has some extraordinary, fascinating exhibitions; then Toklas the restaurant, followed very shortly by Toklas the bakery and shop – both also highly recommended. Now, at least for the summer, we have Outcrop.
It’s a beautiful space, largely outdoors but with a covered (and heated) dining area surrounded by fragrant herbs and plants. Lulled by the mellow, jazzy soundtrack or guest DJs, you can kick back with a preprandial cocktail as the tantalising aroma of AngloThai’s charcoal-fire cooking drifts gently by; there is also a mesmerising installation inside that you shouldn’t miss. On my visit, the effortlessly charming Johnny and Daniel were heading up their friendly and knowledgeable front of house team; it is immediately welcoming and feels like it has been there forever.
I started with a couple of the Carlingford oysters in Nahm Jim Talay, a dressing made with their house-fermented chilli, sea buckthorn, galangal, garlic, coriander root, lime and fish sauce. This delivered a stinging slap of fiery chilli, immediately lifted by the sour citrussy notes of sea buckthorn. I had ordered a Cropped Martini as a swift sharpener (hey, it’s a Palate thing); made with Vault oyster and champagne vermouth, it proved an ideal partner to the unapologetic flavours of the Nahm Jim and delicious minerality of the oysters.
The radishes with hazelnut and coriander relish was a simple, pleasing but unremarkable dish; a bright tangle of leafy radishes, served with a chunky hazelnut and coriander salsa like an earthy Romesco. In contrast, the Cornish shellfish and shrimp paste butter flatbread was easily one of the best dishes I’ve eaten this year. Tiny Cornish brown shrimp, cockles and plump mussels are bathed in butter which has been vigorously spiked with funky, umami-bomb fermented shrimp paste, then piled onto a burnished flatbread made with regeneratively farmed flour. John Chantarasak, co-founder of AngloThai with his wife Desiree, is himself of both Thai and British heritage; his melding of Thai flavours and techniques with seasonal British produce and modern, inventive cooking style using traditional methods are perfectly illustrated here.
The hot and sour turbot bone broth with Shetland mussels and hen of the woods mushroom was another notable dish, an absolute bowl of joy. Singing with vibrant, fresh Thai flavours – fresh makrut lime leaves, holy basil, lemongrass, chillies – and balanced with delicacy and precision, each mouthful was both familiar and unexpected.
I had seen the venison tartare with scallop roe chilli jam and makrut lime sweep past my table on the way to another diner, and immediately added it to my order. (The only real downside of trying a new restaurant for the first time is the inevitable spectre of meal envy, aka food FOMO.) The tartare is a simply-plated, pretty and appetising dish, the gorgeous venison hand-chopped and dressed in a fresher, spicier Thai version of the classic capers, cornichons, mustard and so on. I also ordered a side of crispy Pink Fir potatoes and Thai chimichurri; I’ve never met a hot, crunchy potato I didn’t like and, to my mind, all of them go well with a tartare. There’s something about the complete contrast in flavour, texture and temperature that enhances them both.
There were only two desserts, but the struggle was still real. Fig leaf sorbet and coconut ash cracker was a real contender but the winner on points was the Thai tea burnt cream and summer berries: the most traditional of English puddings, with classic summer fruit macerated in a cherry liqueur from Somerset. The cream had kept its wonderfully smooth texture and flavour, but with the addition of a subtle but beguiling Thai accent. This was such a lovely, soothing way to end the meal.
Now I have another name to add to my watch list; AngloThai already featured but now I have Outcrop too. I visited in the first week and was immensely impressed with the attention to detail and relaxed, immersive feel of what is, after all, a temporary site. This is an inspired collaboration; if this is the trailer for AngloThai’s permanent restaurant, then all the signs are that it’s going to be a blockbuster.
by Amanda David