670 Grams is a frantic place. The interior with flashes of gauche animal print, the rap soundtrack, the illustration of two men kissing in the bathroom along with the lucid coloured loo roll, or the course where you eat animal organs from a mock skull. It’s all designed to provoke and provide talking points, in a kind of Mugaritz and Arzak way. In many respects it matches the persona of chef patron Kray Treadwell, Great British Menu winner and the only local change in this years Michelin Guide (something he was keen to point out on social media) when he won the rising star award. Kray rightly got plaudits for his unique, uncompromising, avant garde style, which whilst not perfect is always interesting.
I can’t say I love it from the start. A strawberry and kimchi soup with caviar is bright and saline, though the raw acidity of kimchi is missing. Then a take on lobster Mac and cheese, rich and comforting if a touch chewy, before a stodgy bread made from the lobster shells with a cream cheese spread reminiscent of Philadelphia. The first real standout moment arrives with a tomato consommé with a punchy cardamom oil, bhaji rife with spice, and salmon (though not for me). The spicing is layered and controlled. Texturally it’s there. It’s memorable.
Chicken oysters are barbecued longer than they needed to be, with freeze dried sweetcorn, a burnt corn purée, and, I think, garlic powder. It’s the weakest course of the meal, and we’re later told it’s coming off the menu soon. Then the sweetbread nuggets not unlike KFC’s popcorn chicken in taste and texture, coated in a lurid hot sauce made from chilli and cabbage, to be eaten from the ceramic skull as if some cannibalist ritual. It delivers in way more than shock factor; the sauce is balanced, not overly fiery. It’s playful but above all tasty. A delicious Char Sui pork course with cabbage and pineapple is unctuous, salty, and sweet, followed by a take on mutton and dumplings using lamb neck that I’m still unsure what to think of.
The latest addition to the menu stands out for being one of my favourite things I’ve eaten in recent years. A take on a pickle tray has cucumber cream, a mango jelly and lime pickle base (or was it the other way around?), topped with a cucumber crisp that when taken in one go delivers on a poppadom with raita, chutney and pickle mouthful. I tell Kray it’s my favourite course so far and he tells me it’s the best dish he’s ever made. It’s knockout. A riff on pick and mix is hit and miss, before a glorious date cake with black pepper oil and grated cheese that is spicy and savoury and downright fucking delicious. The last course of tea and toast has loads of deliberate burnt notes and feels an odd way to close off a meal. I don’t like it and I say so. His response is “it’s a marmite dish”. Is it really, I ask. “Well if you don’t like tea and toast you’re fucked”. I happen to like tea and toast.
The very nature of a lengthy tasting menu is there will always be dishes that appeal less, and with a style of cooking like this it’s bound to be polarising at times. I found 670 Grams to be at all times interesting, occasionally provoking, and for a couple of courses utterly compelling. My individual bill with wine pairing and extra drinks is north of £140, and whilst it’s a lot of money, it’s a figure I’d rather spend here than in a couple of our more predictable and staid starred restaurants. The fact that I’m referred to on a couple of occasions as ‘the blogger’ gives me the impression that Kray won’t give two shits about my opinion here and that’s exactly how it should be. He’s doing things his way, on his terms, and long may that last.