BY PALOMA LACY
The diner’s experience is definitely a subjective one. What I enjoy, others may well not, so I try to see restaurants through, not only my prism, but that of others.
I continually ask myself, particularly if I don’t like a certain aspect: “Is it just me? Would others enjoy this?” For me, the best dining experiences are those occasions when everything falls into place, pretty much by the time I’m seated.
Moxon’s Next Door in East Dulwich is just such a place – every sense is awakened within minutes of arrival – sight, it’s like being in a home kitchen, smell, a waft of fresh fish permeates the air, and sound, how does a restaurant appear busy, without the cacophony of noise you so often get?
Running a restaurant is difficult enough, but Moxon’s certainly has the basics right – top quality ingredients and the right chef behind the stove.
The menu, like the cooking, is uncomplicated, choosing instead to let the ingredients speak for themselves.
There’s a bar area for drinks and snacks and, while my friend and I were sat in the restaurant, we wanted to try smoked mackerel pate, pickles, crisp bread (£4.50).
The pate was nothing out of the ordinary, but spread on bread and topped with pickles elevated it to another level. Warning: these cucumbers should be called super pickles, with stratospheric acidity levels, which may not be to everyone’s taste – but I loved it.
Next up was a new one on me, tinned sardinella on toast – mini sardines to you and I – which alone were a little bland, but a chilli tapenade pepped them up no end.
Twelve small plates can be ordered as a starter or three or four per person as a tapas-style meal. We went with the former, tuna tataki, bok choy, pickled radish, soy and wasabi – best described as sushi, lightly heat sealed at the edges. This was phenomenal – the best thing I’ve eaten this year so far. Mixing soy sauce with wasabi, I poured it over the fish as a kind of marinade, before polishing it off.
Wasabi is not for the heat intolerant, but is tempered a little if you include some greens in each mouthful. Three thick slices of tuna made the £11.50 price tag well worth it.
Grilled Rye king scallops seaweed butter, with chilli were fulsomely embraced opposite me. Large plates or main course is simple: a choice of that day’s haul at market price. Usually around five fish are available, for us it was John Dory all the way.
A whole fish arrived at our table and was filleted in minutes by our waiter. Fresh, juicy flesh, cooked in lemon and butter – all that was needed were a couple of simple sides – broccoli and gratin. The latter included potato, celeriac and turnip, making it so much lighter than a pure potato version.
Paloma said the food she ate at Moxon’s Next Door was the best she had tasted so far this year. Paloma was a guest of Moxon’s Next Door. 151 Lordship Lane, East Dulwich, London SE22 8HX.