While many of our country’s chefs have been making headlines for all the wrong reasons lately, talented 25-year-old Stevie Parle has received nothing but praise from the press. Not only did he snatch the title of UK’s Young Chef of the Year at last month’s Observer Food Monthly Awards, he has just been named one of the Top 10 Young Chefs in Europe by the The Wall Street Journal. Even the hypercritical AA Gill anointed Parle’s food at Dock Kitchen with the ever elusive 5 stars in The Sunday Times, the same weekend we made our first visit.
Dinners at the canal-side restaurant run true to its supper club roots (DK began its life as a pop-up) with menus dedicated to anything from the tastes of the Silk Road to new season Olive Oil and the prized Italian White Truffle. Lunches are a simpler affair, with a short and sweet menu consisting of four each of starters, mains and desserts.
It was a brisk winter’s day when we made the long overdue 10 minute journey from our flat to Stevie’s restaurant (no, we don’t know why we left it this long either), and the chill in the air nudged us both to order warming bowls of soups to start. Mine, a Smoked Haddock and Clam Chowder, was delicate, well-seasoned and chockfull of small fleshy clams and soft chunks of smoky fish. B’s Spiced Lentil and Lamb Soup with Cumin, Coriander and Caraway was just as rustic but more robust and deftly-spiced, with an almost stew-like consistency.
The Wood Pigeon Biryani was perfect lunchtime fodder, laced with lean shredded game and brought alive by aromatic spices and vibrant herbs – of which, the addition of dill was especially clever as it added a lightness not often found in this dish. A further dollop of seasoned yoghurt melded all the lovely flavours together.
A hunk of Slow-Cooked Pork Shoulder was equally satisfying; fall-apart-tender meat injected with flavour from hours of braising in sage, peppercorn and red wine. Unfussy accompaniments of mild swiss chard and creamy white beans soaked up the delicious pan juices nicely.
The hearty soups and ample mains left us more than satisfied, but we couldn’t resist splitting a Brown Butter Tart. Thin flaky pastry encasing a moist fragrant filling dotted with armagnac-steeped prunes; it harked back to a gorgeous pear and almond tart I had at The River Café, unsurprising as Parle cut his teeth in its kitchens.
It was one of those wonderful lazy lunches where time slows pleasingly to a crawl; the quiet surroundings together with the evocative scents wafting from the kitchen succeeded in whisking me away for a couple of hours. I left resolving to make the short trip down again soon, possibly for one of their more elaborate themed dinners.
The Dock Kitchen
344/342 Ladbroke Grove
London W10 5BU
t. 0208 962 1610