Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Stripped Back, Hackney

What do you say about a chef who went from working as a head chef at Roganic, to subsequently deciding to strip back and pop up at a bare-boned stall at a weekend market? Awesome!

Roganic opened to much fanfare and though I eventually manage to get there, I was a tad too late as Ben Spalding had already left. So I had to wait patiently for his next venture and Stripped Back emerged. After what seemed to be a tiring and exhausting few weeks for me, I managed to free up my Saturday and headed to Broadway Market.

Makeshift tables and stools marked the stall with a 3 person team holding the fort. It is right next to a children's playground which is good for anyone with kids as you can watch your kids playing while you delve into some culinary delights. Arriving at what is considered prime-time lunch hour, I was relieved to discover that there were two empty seats for IJ and I. It didn't take long for us to decide on the 6 course lunch menu at £27.50 instead of the 4 course version.


Take a seat and you initially get served with a ginger ale & beer fizz with heather honey out of a whipper.


It was sweet and refreshing before tucking into some bread and butter. I enjoyed the yoghurt malt loaf which gave a hint of sweetness lingering at the end.


The next three courses were to me the highlights of my meal starting with a roasted & marinated chestnut mushroom, flaked almonds, baby gems and Saint Agur blue cheese. The melted blue cheese played nicely with the flavours of the mushrooms and almonds, blending into a symphony that reminded me of peanut butter.


Rare mackerel, tarragon & raw broccoli came next with ripe figs, dashi broth & fig leaf oil. The dashi broth was really subtle and clean which allowed the mackerel to shine through. I love the fig leaf oil as it added an extra depth. Who would have thought of ripe figs with its sweetness adding another layer. Such creativity and innovation. I was enjoying myself now.

Next was Ben's version of a Maltese dish, rabbit stew. It was one of those comforting and warm the soul type of dish but I felt that it needed just a little more spice kick to it.

From here, we moved onto the desserts starting with blowtorched pineapple, salted caramel, peppered creme fraiche and Oreo's. I love the idea of it though I think it needs a touch of acidity to bring the whole thing together.


I did not enjoy the warm chocolate, muscat grapes, sweetened pinenuts and jersey milk at all. I love pinenuts but the addition of it seemed to throw the whole dessert off balance. A spoon of mango puree and salted peanut butter rounded off the meal. All three desserts seems to play on the salty/sweetness combo and I personally would have preferred more variations. Do I really want three takes on salted caramel, salted peanut butter etc..?


After paying for our 6 course did we discover when we were chatting to another couple that we actually missed a course, which was the pig's cheeks. I think that it was a mixture of both me not looking at the menu to know what to expect and leaving it to the team and the slight confusion of them having to do everything that led to that.

Desserts aside, I truly admire the talent and creations from Ben Spalding and those first few mains were really wonderful. I now wished I had gone back and requested for those pig's cheeks, said to be one of the highlights. 

Will I recommend: Yes
Will I come back: Yes
Have I had better: That will be a no for the mains but yes for the desserts

@_strippedback, London Fields Primary School playground, Westgate Street, E8 3RL


  1. There’s always second chances! Make sure you won’t be missing pig cheeks on your next visit.

  2. So nice to finally meet you that day Kay!! You should go back and demand for them pig's cheeks =P


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