From The East End To N1 Perilla, Newington Green

18th February 2018

Fine dining has received a significant East London makeover with the launch of Perilla, the brainchild of dynamic duo Chef Ben Marks and front-of-house Matt Emmerson. The pedigree is considerable when you study Mark's CV including high-end venues like The Square, Claridge's and the epitome of culinary excellence, Noma.

The immediate downside is it's quite the pilgrimage to reach Perilla, as it's situated on Newington Green in North London. However, when you do reach this hip dining outpost, there is much to enjoy including views of the Green from their almost floor-to-ceiling windows. There is a distinct rustic charm to the restaurant with original terrazzo floor, dim lighting and hidden skylights.

At £38pp for their tasting menu, it is charmingly affordable perhaps a reflection on their East London location. However, we opted to choose from the a la carte menu with what appeared more exotic and captivating options. Ben's training at Michelin-starred restaurant was all too apparent from the very first course: seaweed bread with brown butter. You can just imagine René Redzepi telling his protégés to wow their diners from the bread course. The sturdy crust with the pillowy crumb has been brushed with lamb fat and served with a satisfyingly rich butter.

The menu is concise and the line between starters and mains are somewhat blurred as dishes are meant to be shared with your guests. Although, how you share a burnt onion and cultured cream soup with someone who isn't your date is beyond my dining room skills.

Fungi lovers will rejoice at the sight and taste of their shiitake and hen of the wood mushrooms served with an aged cepe sauce. It is all about mushrooms, mushrooms and more mushrooms; I enjoyed the addition of hen of the wood varieties which gave the dish more substance with their firm texture, relatively larger size and succulent taste.

If there are any minor constructive feedback, most of the dishes are slightly over-salted, roasted hake was suitable firm and meaty served with braised greens however the brown shrimp and parsley sauce did mean the dish had a strong salty savouriness, which was evident in the previous dish and even in the desserts.

Dishes are undoubtedly ingeniously created here with the octopus bolognese a particular standout.  There is no pasta in this dish but the thin threads are instead green monk's beard; whilst the traditional meat base is replaced with flavoursome bites of octopus.

Thoughtful pairing of ingredients is a clear theme of Perilla with unusual sounding desserts like Juniper and myrtle crème caramel and chestnut, cranberry and sheep's curd tart. It's hardly surprising to see Ben recently win accolades such as breakthrough chef of the year 2017 and included in the Forbes 30 under 30 Arts & Culture list. Perilla is definitely one restaurant to watch out for in 2018 and beyond.

For more information on Perilla, see here.
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