A typical food bloggers’ dinner takes around 3 hours. Oh – minimum 3 hours.
There’s always seem to be a lot to catch up on, even if we’ve literally never seen each other face-to-face in our entire lives. There’s a magical connection that links us together that keeps us blabbering on into the night: rants about the new algorithm, debates on the best Indian in London, leading to a real-time investigation of whether a £30 cocktail was worth it or not.
The other night was another night just like this, at a different environment. We were seated in the cosy basement of Foley’s, a modern restaurant on Foley Street serving Middle Eastern and Asian inspired dishes, and have recently gained a Michelin Bib Gourmand. (Read about my recent visit to their pop-up restaurant on John Lewis Roof Garden here.)
Deciding what to order took about an hour (that’s the norm, by the way), but we ended up just getting two of everything on the menu for the table to share. The menu here is divided into clear sections featuring 4 to 5 dishes each: bit & bobs, tacos, veg, meat and from the sea.
Their signature snack, the lotus seeds arrived in a crunchy, fiery coating of cayenne, dried raffia and paprika, which was perfect to accompany the cocktails on the table. (I had the Summer Cooler which was a refreshing mix of watermelon, tequila and f-ing CACTUS WATER.)
The Chicken Lollipops (from the Bits and Bobs section) arrived as a pair, its tender, juicy meat still on the bone, dressed in a crunchy, golden skin, next to a few chunks of spicy pickled cucumber and a sweet soy dressing.
The Spiced Sweet Potato Fritters were nuggets of warmth on a mellow saffron coconut curry and sweet grilled pineapple cubes.
From the vegetable section were the Asian Crunch, a unique mixture of apple, cucumber and bokchoy with a carrot yuzu sauce, and the Foley’s Summer Salad, a beautiful garden of grilled courgettes, apricot, fig and fennel.
From the seafood section was the Vietnamese Summer Roll, which took the normal summer rolls at your local Vietnamese to another level. Cured plaice fillet was wrapped around a sunshine yellow rice paper, dressed with mango, purple yam, thai basil and edamame.
The Hake came as two separate plates: the fish wrapped in banana leaf, and the charcoal roasted chicken nested on fennel.
The Grilled Octopus was my favourite amongst the seafood dishes – the octopus was so, so tender and flavourful I had almost mistaken it for a chunk of slow-cooked ox tail. Housemade sriracha and bokchoy accompanied the octopus, and that smear of black sesame mayo was something so unique yet added an extra sparkle of flavour.
The meat dishes were much looked forward to by the majority of the cohort. The Chicken came as a as a tender square, paired with soba noodles and collided with the smooth coconut labneh.
The Grilled Rib Eye (normally cap steak) saw gasps around the table, its perfectly cooked, pink meat next to slices of smoked tomato.
If you like pork, you’d love the Sticky Pork here. The meat comes in a sweet-tangy tamarind BBQ sauce, strips of crispy pig’s ears, with the explosion of Asian-inspired flavours calmed by the swede vermicelli.
For me, the tacos were the star of the show. Everything just tastes even better when you can eat with your hands, don’t they? I revisited the Tempura Aubergine taco from the pop-up the other day, with that golden chunk of aubergine (almost like a fish taco) resting on strips of asparagus.
The Goan Crab came separate from the corn tortilla, its crab salad shouting freshness and the sea.
The Grilled Octopus was the taco version of the seafood dish before – although I much prefer the taco.
The fourth taco was the Lamb Doner taco, which according to the other bloggers was the one they’d go for thirds for – shreds of lamb, aubergine, tahini, hot sauce, garlic sauce… sounds like a flavour bomb to me!
It was getting late but I had to stay for dessert. The dessert menu housed 5 items. The Fatboy elvis was pure indulgence with a warm, mini chocolate chip banana cake, banana cream, bacon crack and strawberry jam (one blogger exclaimed “it’s very banana-ry!”).
The panna cotta was a smooth, gentle pudding of coconut, lychees and chocolate crumble.
The Bombay alaska was a stunner by itself – a cloud of cardamom meringue on a ring of grilled pineapple and coconut lime ice cream.
They didn’t even slack on the presentation of their ice creams. The brown butter popcorn and rose water ice cream came beautifully plated, smooth and refreshing.
Verdict: wonderful, unique restaurant and rightfully proud of their creativity and effort they’ve put in their dishes. Amazing balance of flavours from all corners of Asia, and a place with such an interesting, delicious palette worthy of multiple visits again and again.
23 Foley Street
Website: click here