Fish heads? I have form for devouring them. Witness the board below at the late, lamented Umezushi in Manchester. That was 2018 (note the prices) and I went for the hamachi. So the dish-determined-to-surprise on the menu at Fallow held no fears. Dowsed in a sriracha emulsion, the smoked cod’s head held plenty of crannies from which to prise collagen-rich morsels. Crumbled charcuterie adding an extra swoosh of umami. Messy, mind, but they reportedly sold 10,000 in their first five months of Fallow’s meteoric rise.
More a dish the likes of which you might find a short walk away in London’s Chinatown. Definitely not one for the pre-theatre crowd en route to Phantom of the Opera further down Haymarket. In that context this all-day restaurant/bar, created by two Heston Blumenthal alumni, should feel like a fish out of water (sic). Especially since it flaunts a sustainability ethos that’s as brazen as its prices. Given all this, it possesses a flamboyant yet democratic buzz.
Not what you’d always expect from a joint perched at No.13 in the Estella Damm Top 50 Restaurants list. That’s a place behind my beloved Angel at Hetton, though its sense of theatre leans towards numero uno Ynyshir.
I had a front row seat for all this – at the Chef’s Counter, the hectic pass just to my right. None of your The Bear/Boiling Point chaos, though,about this operation, which started in 2020 as a residency at 10 Heddon Street, off Regent Street, before moving to St James’s this year. It was a bold move, smacking of serious investment at a time when the hospitality industry is facing horrendous challenges. Even so this week, hearteningly, its trade body reaffirmed its commitment to sustainability and reducing food waste with a 10 point plan. Fallow is already an object lesson in combining such principles with top quality dining. Their website calls it ‘conscious gastronomy’. Nothing gets thrown away and ‘nose to tail’ ‘farm to fork guides everything they cook.
All of which I contemplate as I gaze up at the hand foraged seaweed, dried flowers and recycled paper decorations dangling from the ceiling, a decor of repurposed materials including mussel and oyster shells and consider the provenance of my mushroom parfait, created from fungi farmed in the basement.
Originally co-founders Will Murray and Jack Croft would buy wonky mushrooms from their suppliers; now they use their own in-house lion’s mane along with smoked shitake. They caramelise them down, adding mirin and tamari. Puréed, butter and eggs are mixed in to create a sustainable mirror image of a classic liver parfait (with further mushrooms draped over. Not dissimilar really, at a fraction of the cost, to the booze and foie-gras laden Meat Fruit, at Dinner by Heston Blumenthal, where the two young chefs met.
There’s a similar decadent aura from frugal ingredients about my next, equally glorious course, where a fatty salmon belly cut has been whipped into a mousse. It is served in a marrow bone, whose dripping contents add the ooze factor to an accompanying brioche bun. What a belting dish.
This is undoubtedly rich, quite heavy food. Even the corn ribs ‘pop-up signature dish’ I snaffle with an aperitif of Guinness has made a big statement. Chunks of sweetcorn are first deep-fried then sprinkled with kombu. It shouldn’t work, but it does. Alternatively there is a brace of real ribs (back, dairy cow, smoked) as a heftier snack. I still eye with envy the Carlingford oysters being shucked across the counter, but £25 for half a dozen feels too much.
If you reject the good value Monday-Friday £35 three course offer at lunch the bill can mount up (there’s a £12 truffle supplement on that £24 parfait), especially if you get stuck into the drinks list. I stay with the £8 pint of stout and add a £9 glass of Mencia for my final dish, a beef carpaccio. Fallow’s steaks and burgers are all trumpeted as 45-day aged ex-dairy cow, so I presume my generous helping of anchovy mayo-dressed carpaccio, topped with grated horseradish and gherkin, is no different. From my up-close stool I have watched the sous chef deftly assemble little ‘spoons’ of chicory leaf I am to scoop up my beef with. I was glad of them. The wild-farmed sourdough with fermented potato flour is the one disappointment of an exemplary lunch.
So where to next? A matinee of The Phantom? No. Lucian Freud: New Perspectives at the equally close National Gallery. All for the price of a half dozen Carlingfords.
Fallow, 2 St James’s Market, London, SW1Y 4RP. T Main image (with truffles) from Fallow Facebook page.