Klose and Soan Kitchen, 209 Deptford High St, London, SE8 3NT
Klose and Soan Kitchen: Soan Klose, you can taste it
It seems like only this year that I was sitting with the Editor at the window of Winemakers in Deptford, taking luxurious slugs of Cremant and swearing gently with praise into a plate of Panisse, blotted with fermented chilli sauce, drifted in Grana Padano and baffled as to why the place wasn’t a restaurant. At the time, it was a couple of guys doing nibbles a few days a week as part of their catering business, but after a sultry interior zhuzh-up they've taken over the kitchen full-time, reopening as Klose and Soan.
Through a sepia lens, we order the Panisse once more without hesitation and it’s just as we remembered, but smaller- a sign of the times, I suppose. Bronzed and crunchy dice contain a creamy, heartily seasoned chickpea paste, still sporting their Grana Padano perms and that excellent chilli sauce. These cosy little chunks of familiarity vanish near enough immediately.
Always insistent to carry on a deep-fried theme, there are cheese croquettes- stellar little cigarillos with a sturdy, developed shell that enables you to bite clean through, without the whole thing collapsing. Satin-like innards see teeth marks remain in the generous cheese content, but it’s the purée bursting with the open-palm slap of green apple coupled with the Librarian sensibilities of celery that makes it.
There seems to have been real care taken in the construction of this menu to ensure that vegetables don’t play second fiddles to meat and fish. Here, pucks of smoked aubergine sit in a luminous green tahini, hiding under tufts of mint, ellipses of spring onion and bejewelled with pomegranate seeds, it thwacks with freshness but all in service to the judicious smoke lingering throughout the aubergine.
A picada of almond and saffron has simmered Alubia beans, saturated to the point of instability, with pieces of cuttlefish having just completed cooking as the dish arrives. It’s masterful cephalopodic treatment that cannot be understated- with bite but offering little resistance- the whole bowl is an ode to tenderness, if just a smidge underseasoned.
The icy tendrils of winter demand meat and potatoes and it’s a tribute I’m only too willing to provide, on bended knee with the onglet, frites and red wine jus. Klose and Soan take the correct no frills, wot-it-says-on-the-tin approach here with a robust barbecue sear on the onglet imbuing the meat with that moreish bitter smoke. Inside, it’s that edge-to-edge gradient of pink, deepening into rouge toward the centre that only a good rest can give. The frites are lissom and mostly crisp, if a little blonde, whereas the jus is of burly body with captured essence.
A mound of chichi fregi, churro-esque orbs sparkling with caster sugar arrive, still hot from the fryer. Although billed as ‘bergamot sugar’- the former is lacking, only present in sparse flecks of the stuff. Despite this, the worst case scenario is a relegation to mini doughnuts- a fine consolation in my opinion.
A wedge of Nemesis with crème fraîche is a classic. Truffle-like within, it just unravels into buttery dopamine on the tongue. Naturally, I left a mini doughnut to shove a hunk of Nemesis into. As if you didn’t see that coming.
Would I return? Well I did, just a week later as it happens; specifically for the onglet- the Editor and I having woken up that morning with it in our minds’ eye. Klose and Soan is the sort of place that I look forward to seeing how their menu navigates the seasons. Although it’s still early days, this place oozes potential and is clearly headed by a compellingly-skilled kitchen working with great staff which, by all accounts, is not a bad place to start.