It might not be in her neighbourhood, but a visit to Perilla has Zoë Perrett considering a move to London’s Newington Green
Ah, Perilla. The place that makes me wish I was local to Newington Green, and that, like that bar in Cheers, it was where everybody knew my name and was really glad I came.
The thing is, the superb staff didn’t know me from Adam when I walked in. But post-supper in the low-lit, natural material-rich room, I walked into the wintery night with a spring in my step caused by an inkling that they were genuinely pleased I’d popped in.
After beautiful botanical cocktails, dinner begins with crusty hunks of seaweed bread with the whipped lamb fat butter that’s whipping Instagram’s fooderati into such a frenzy – and justly so. In fact, it’s so good we use it to bracket the meal, later ordering another round to accompany cheese.
But before that comes a myriad of dishes to savour and share. Chef Ben Marks’ Noma training is evident in every multi-textured, simple-yet-somehow-supremely-complex creation – notably a menage-a-trois of baked celeriac, aged ceps, and apple-crisp fresh chestnuts.
Chopped seafood used as seasoning is a reoccurring – and successful – flourish: tiny bits of mussel add ozone depth to fried duck egg and parsley with more of that herb blended into a verdant sauce; minced cuttlefish bolognese cloaks cod beneath its chard leaf wrapper.
Vegetable dishes are as interesting as their meaty counterparts; indeed, many are almost meaty in their own right. Rich umami aromas from a pot-roast of whole broccoli with various cabbages make our noses twitch like children in a Bisto ad.
Grilled slices of pork pluma hide more surprises than a game of pass-the-parcel – layered up with not only the advertised hispi cabbage and sauerkraut, but also nuts and headily
piquant cheese. Quince sauce-glossed short rib is a world away from that modish butch barbecued stuff; roasted hazelnuts and paper-thin slivers of radish apt accessories.
The single dessert option delivers. With a surface covered in meticulously-peeled, eyeball-like sultana grapes, the walnut custard looks like a surreal nightmare and tastes like a dream. Eaten alongside Winslade cheese, pears, and that aforementioned bread, it only pushes Perilla higher in my estimation.
Make it happen
Where: 1-3 Green Lanes, London N16 9BS
Find out more: To visit the website, click here