Root + Bone vs Kricket
EATING

Words: Anthony Power   Photography by Steve Ryan

Root + Bone vs Kricket

We take on the whole menu in White City

 

If you are a regular reader of Root + Bone you’ll know that each issue the editorial team gather our collective bellies and head to one of our favourite restaurants, or a ‘must try’ new restaurant we’ve been dying to try, to take the ‘one-of-everthing’ menu challenge. We’ve held these battles at some fantastic places over the last few issues, often, and with a sense of duty and sheer pride, we have walked out stuffed, but victorious. If we are going to lock horns with the chefs offering, well then, we owe it to both parties to do this justice.
 
For this test match, high on confidence and bravado, we took the fight to Kricket, and, it pains me to write, we got our asses whipped. Kricket needs no introduction (unless you’ve been living in a different planet for the last few years) The brainchild of Will Bowlby and Rik Cambell it opened in a 20ft shipping contain in Brixton back in 2015 and very quickly became one of the hottest openings of that year. Its meteoric rise has seen it go from those humble beginnings to open permeant sites in Soho and in the new development at Television Centre in White City, over in West London.
 
Now, in our defence, when we approached Kricket and threw down the gauntlet for this battle, we did think we’d be heading to the Brixton site, where the menu is noticeably more concise than it’s bigger brothers, but when we found out the contest would in fact go down at the White City location, we knew we were in for the fight of our luncheon lives.
 
 
It was on the train journey over to the West of London that I perused the menu on their website and realised we had, literally bitten off more than we could chew. The menu is huge. Added to this, two of the party failed to eat any breakfast. A schoolboy error in any food eating challenge rendering the stomach empty and tight from the overnight fasting since dinner the previous evening.
 
So, as I tell you now how the lunch unfolded, I feel obliged to tell you that we had in a way, admitted defeat before the first bell was rung, by deciding we would forgo some of the dishes on the menu. Yes, we are embarrassed and we apologise.
 
We started with a couple of the six or so rotis, naan and parathas breads in the form of the potato paratha and the festively themed date & pistachio naan. Both vegan, both delicious, the date naan could almost be an accompaniment to a dessert with its sweet jammy topping.
 
We decided, in a hope to glean some self respect for our cop-out on the mains, to order one of everything from the small plates - the very things that their reputation was rightly built upon. They came as a bombardment of plates on the table and we fought to find space without having to commandeer a neighbouring table. Croquettes make an appearance on the menu, and although a Spanish tapas, the name is easily the best way to describe these little balls of pure pleasure. Kricket style sees them packed with unctuous pieces of Goan sausage and for once, after ordering croquettes all across London, they are served in pairs putting an end to that fight for the odd-odd-numbered morsel.
 
 
There is a bhel puri, a kind of sweet-savoury dish of puffed rice, tamarind raw mango and sev; small pieces of crunchy noodles made from chickpea flour that was light and feverishly more-ish and left us debating if we should order more, but restraint was called for given what lay ahead.
 
Filling up the table was a plate of tender leeks doused in kasundi; a Bengali mustard and tomato sauce and garnished with a creamy paneer; unanimously voted one of the highlights from the menu for its simplicity and flavour for a allium. There was a venison and beef fat kebab with chutney and raita that Mark rightly renamed ‘the sausage from heaven’ and the Keralan fried chicken with curry mayo, with its super crispy and lightly spiced crumb was both generous and tender but, like all fried chicken, effectively deep fried crack cocaine that leaves you craving it for the next few days as you deal with the withdrawals.
 
 
Wrapping up the small plates was the Samphire pakoras - crispy batter wrapped around a salty sea vegetable; whats not to like there? And Kashmiri chilli cured trout with buttermilk, mustard oil, pickled chillis and shiso - a creative take on cured fish, and skilfully executed if a little heavy on the buttermilk, with the chillis and aniseed hit from the shiso cress cutting through the fattiness of the main components perfectly.
 
Moving on to the main plates, we decided we’d try a meat, fish and veg dish, as well as one of each of the sides condiments and see where our bellies were at the end of this. For the veg dish we went for the Aloo gobi kofta, listed as vegan on the menu and generally known as a potato based curry, this piqued our interest given the amount of late night koftas we’d collectively eaten on the way home after boozy nights at the pub, all of which were made from questionable meat products. These were effectively little potato dumplings that looked and resembled gnocchi, which left us a little unsure as to why they were branded kofta, but we didn’t really care given they were served with a rich and creamy ‘methi malai’ sauce made from fenugreek leaves and cream, a spiced brown butter for nuttiness, and some pickled cauliflower. Questionable name, nicely balanced flavours, fucking delicious. Winning.
 
For the meat course we ummed and ahhhed as to weather we could handle what would normally be the first choice of dish for the team; an Iberico sucking pig shoulder vindaloo. These five beautiful words had us deep in debate. It was priced at £45 so we knew it would be for 3-4 people to share. We folded and decided against it. I am still regretting this decision (but have an excuse to return soon) instead choosing a dish of a lamb raan; chunky pieces of slow cooked leg of cute, fluffy little lamb with pomegranate, goats curd and mint raita with a side bowl of pink pickled cocktail onions. We weren’t disappointed at all. Basically the Indian take on the classic roast lamb, this one you could tell had been marinated and slow cooked for a very long time rendering the meat succulent and a party of sub-continent spices in the mouth.
 
 
The third of our large plates, and unanimous favourite of the feast, was the Karnataken mussels. A big bowl full of steaming mussels in a fragrant masala and white wine broth. So good were these that we demanded the recipe, which Will was happy to provide and is here for you all to try and enjoy yourselves. Do yourself a favour and try them, then head to Kricket yourself for everything else on the menu, or better still, buy their cookbook which will no doubt be your go to when the mood for some Indian flavour strikes.
 
 
Asked by our lovely and accommodating server if we’d like to try pudding, Steve confirmed with the explanation that humans do indeed have a second stomach reserved just for desserts, and feeling like we had room for more (I knew we should’ve ordered the vindaloo!) we ordered one of each. Saffron ice cream with crispy wild rice that looked like little crispy worms was good, although personally, I find saffron to be a spice that is best used in very small amounts as an accompaniment to other spices, rather than the main contender, so found it to be a little over-powering. The stand-out dessert was the sticky date pudding - another festive take on the classic dessert, it was well spiced with a tea and rose syrup and a light milk ice cream.
 
As it was lunch and we all had busy afternoons ahead of us (least of all digesting the feast) we held back a little on the drinks menu but managed to fit in a beer or two and ordered a cocktail listed on the menu as ‘The Lover’; a purple, almost cartoon-looking concoction of gin, vermouth, honey and something called butterfly pea tea, garnished with a rose petal. Potent and ridiculously quaffable, it took all the strength we could muster not to order another.
 
We may have lost this round of Root + Bone Vs. But everything we ate from the menu was delicious. None of us ate again until the next day so who can be unhappy with that? We also now have a reason to get back there as soon as we can and you can bet your life we’ll be having that pig vindaloo. Thank you to all the team at Kricket.
 
Kricket
 
Want to challenge us to take on your menu?
Get in touch here with some fighting words and we’ll step outside, tough guy.
 
 
Recipe for Samphire Pakoras
Serves 4
 
Ingredients
 
150g (5oz/1 1⁄3 cups) chickpea
(gram) flour
2 teaspoons Kashmiri red
chilli powder
1 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
300g (10 1⁄2oz) samphire
1 litre (34oz/4 cups) vegetable oil, for deep-frying
caster (super fine) sugar, to taste
sea salt, to taste
 
Method
 
1. Mix together the chickpea flour, chilli powder and turmeric, then gradually whisk in about 150–200ml (5–7oz/3⁄4–scant 1 cup) water to create a thick pancake-style batter. Evenly coat the samphire in the batter.
 
2. Pour the oil in a heavy-based saucepan or kadai, and heat until it is about 180°C (350°F). The oil is hot enough when a cube of bread sizzles when dropped into it.
 
3. Drop in the battered samphire in spoonfuls, moving it constantly within the pan to ensure it doesn’t stick together, and fry for a few minutes. Once golden brown and crispy, lift the samphire out of the oil with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper. Season with sugar and very little salt, then serve with the tamarind and date chutney, and chilli garlic mayonnaise on the side.
 
To serve
 
Tamarind & Date Chutney + Chilli Garlic Mayonnaise
 
Recipe for Karnatakan Mussels
Serves 4
 
Ingredients
 
1kg (2lb/3oz) fresh mussels, scrubbed and debearded
6 tablespoons dry white wine
a handful of fresh coriander (cilantro) chopped
a generous squeeze of lime juice, to drizzle
 
For the masala
 
2 tablespoons coconut oil
1 tablespoon black mustard seeds
a large handful of fresh curry leaves
2 onions, nely diced
1 tablespoon ground turmeric
1 tablespoon Kashmiri red chilli powder
200g (7oz) fresh or frozen grated coconut
2 thumb-size pieces of fresh ginger root, grated
3 green chillies, nely chopped
Sea salt, to taste
 
Method
 
1. First, make the masala. Heat the coconut oil in a frying pan (skillet) until hot, then add the mustard seeds and heat for 30 seconds or until they start to splutter. Add the curry leaves, reduce the heat to low and add the diced onions. Continue to cook for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent but without any colour.
 
2. Add the turmeric, chilli powder, coconut, ginger and green chillies, and season to taste with salt. Cook, stirring, for a couple minutes until fragrant. Continue to simmer on a low heat while you prepare the mussels.
 
3. Wash the mussels thoroughly and discard any that remain open when you tap them. Heat up a large heavy-based saucepan and add the wine. Let it simmer for a few minutes before adding the mussels. Cover tightly with a lid, and cook for about 4 minutes until the mussels have opened. Discard any that remain closed. Stir in the masala making sure the mussels are fully coated in all the spices.
 
To serve
 
Spoon the mussels into 4 bowls and garnish with fresh coriander and lime juice to finish. Serve straight away.