As far as compliments go, “When can we go back?” must rank right at the top. Less a case of “Wouldn’t that be nice to eat again” and more “Get it back in my intestines”, nothing speaks of a successful meal like wanting to go back and do it all over again. We had this feeling at the latest of revolving kitchens at 1000 Trades; before we’d even finished my other half was eating my half of the lunch whilst scanning through her phone for dates when we are free. We have two so we’re going back twice. You could say we enjoyed it.
“What is this wonderful food?” I hear nobody ask me. Well, it’s Mezze Quarter time down at the JQ’s finest boozer, and you have four weeks left to fill your boots. The menu might be a familar mix of things on flatbreads, and other things stuffed, and spiced pulses and vegetables, but the delivery happens to be up there with the best of this kind in the city. The flavours are clean, it feels good for the soul, and perhaps most surprisingly, they get the nuance of this cuisine; the balance of heat and acidity; the subtlety of spice and the use of fresh herbs. It feels accomplished. I’d quite like it to stay.
The bigger plates are a lot of food for the price, which sits around the tenner mark. We order the lamb doner that has slices of (I think) belly with crisp rendered fat on a lightly pickled ‘slaw that has zip throughout. They’ve gone big on the herbs and shoots, a pot of baba ghanoush is a brooding smoky assault and another of harissa adds all the fieriness needed. The chicken is what we are coming back for though (and maybe the beef; the koftas looked great on the adjoining table). The thigh meat has been marinated in enough acidity to start the breakdown of protein before it hits the grill and pops occasionally with little hits of cumin and anise. There are dots of feta for saltiness, a little harissa mayo for heat, a lick of lemon juice, more of that slaw, sweet pops of pomegranate, and plenty of herbs. It’s summer 2019. Ottolenghi bashing out his One Ring to rule from an ex workshop in the Jewellery Quarter. I’ve mentioned the excellent chips here before but they have no place in this order. Instead take the sweet potato that’s been blitzed up with lots of garlic and a little chickpea, and make sure you order the ‘nduja to go on top. The two have both swiped right to make the most harmonious of relationships. The fiery sausage meat is offset by the sweet root vegetable; it’s the love story behind Meat and One Veg all over again.
Now for those who noticed, I’d pretty much taken this month off to enjoy myself away from the blog. I’ve been on a nice long well deserved holiday. During that time I’ve eaten a lot of very good food, but it is a couple of dishes from here that linger in my memory. Do yourself a favour: make a date in your diary to go get the chicken flatbread. Have the sweet potato and ‘nduja thing whilst you’re there. In no time at all they’ll be on to the next kitchen and I’d hate for you to miss out.
Get a pint or two of the rhubarb cider and let A2B ferry you around. You’ve earned it.