Openings

Eat this: Lyon’s Seafood & Wine Bar, a fin-to-tail approach to cooking

Seafood is getting the sustainable treatment at this new north London restaurant, as the trend creeps further into consumer consciousness.

8 October 2019
food wasterestaurant openingseafoodsupermarketssustainability
  • The Gist: Underused fish cuts and offal, with oysters thrown in
  • The Chef: Talia Prince
  • Location: 1 Park Road, London N8 8TE
  • Food in 5 words: Showcasing seafood’s less sexy cuts
  • See more: www.lyons-restaurant.com

How did we get here?

Anthony Lyon has spent two decades in the restaurant industry overseeing the front of house, including for Hix, Roka, Soho House and Corbin and King restaurants. He’s now hit out on his own with a local wine bar and restaurant, opening this week.

Coming along for the ride is head chef Talia Prince, whose kitchen credits include Michelin-starred establishments Le Gavroche and Fat Duck, while sommelier Kelvin McCabe will oversee the wine list.

The trio have a shared vision for the 46-cover neighbourhood restaurant in Crouch End, which includes an open kitchen and menus that will be decided by the fresh catch of the day – much of it cooked over charcoal.

What’s different about it?

Its focus on the whole fish, with a fin-to-tail approach to cooking.

Prince will be making use of the underused cuts and offal parts as much as possible. This will be reflected in dishes such as buttermilk cod cheeks with rouille (a French sauce consisting of olive oil with breadcrumbs, garlic, saffron and cayenne pepper).

This ethos of cooking – dipping into the sustainable eating trend – is swimming further into UK consciousnesses in both retail and restaurants.

On the restaurant side, Soho’s Kiln uses lobster heads to infuse flavour and texture into dishes; monkfish livers feature in a curry to add richness, consistency and a velvety texture, while whole fish is stuffed with a paste that includes pounded fish offal in lieu of oil and butter.

Borough Market’s Native restaurant has a starter of fish trims, including fins, on toast, while its chef, Ivan Tisdall-Downes, also likes to use fish cheeks in chowder, scrap bits of trim in fish cakes and deep-fried fish collars, as well as tossing fish bones into soup or as broth for noodles, as reported by The Telegraph.

Meanwhile, Charlie Taylor, head chef at Alyn Williams at The Westbury, describes cod cheeks as a favourite, using them in a manner resembling scallops. Lobster brains he utilises as a booster for sauces.

Even cookbooks are tackling the issue. Australian chef Josh Niland just released his ground-breaking book that calls for a total rethink of how restaurants buy, store and serve fish, including butcher-style cut charts to show the many elements that can be used.

On the retail side, Waitrose sells offcuts of monkfish for curries and Tesco does smoked salmon trimmings.

At Lyon’s, oysters will also be featured, with a garnish to amplify and complement their specific natural flavour. For example, the roasted hazelnut and lettuce puree served with the Ostra Regal oysters brings out their inherent nutty, creamy notes, according to the restaurant, while the Carlingford oysters are paired with a fresh melon and cucumber salsa to play up particular taste notes from their place of origin. During the British native oyster season, the Lyon’s team will use bivalves on the menu as well.

A classic seafood platter based on the day’s shellfish catch will be available too, either chilled and served with an array of dipping sauces or roasted over charcoal with lashings of house-smoked seaweed butter and garlic. These could include lobster, crab, langoustines, prawns, mussels, clams, cockles, whelks and hand-dived scallops. The entire menu will be chalked up daily on a blackboard in the restaurant, changing as items sell out. Seafood suppliers will include Wright Brothers and Henderson Seafood.

The menu will also include selected meat dishes, beginning with the Iberico pork secreto with black garlic, cooked on the robata grill. Seasonal vegetables will be celebrated in dishes like the Delica pumpkin satay and the barley risotto with celeriac, hazelnuts and bone marrow.

A small but experimental list of four cocktails is also being developed, using small-batch producers such as An Dúlamán’s seaweed-infused Irish Maritime Gin and Oyester44 oyster vodka.

You’ve got to try…

The fish skin crisps with scallop roe taramasalata. It’s an idea that has been playing out in retail with UK company Sea Chips making salmon skin crisps.

Sparkie also likes…

Miso hake collars and seaweed mayo. A move away from fillets, which only make up about 40% of the fish, and into eating more unusual parts, with a nod to Japanese flavours as well.

Go if…

You want to deep sea dive into the more sustainable cuts of seafood.

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