Eat this: The Soak

This new restaurant has a food and drink menu focused on fermentation and soaking to enhance flavours.

10 April 2019
  • The Gist: A menu created through brining, fermenting, steeping and soaking
  • The Chef: Chris Zachwieja
  • Location: Victoria Street, London, SW1V 1JU
  • Food in 5 words: Dive into deep drenched dishes
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How did we get here?

Polish chef Chris Zachwieja, who previously worked with Tom Aikens, as the development chef at The Ritz and at Boisdale in Belgrava for the last three years, is heading up this new venture which is opening at the end of April.

Located in Victoria, the restaurant called The Soak, is inspired by the food trend that refuses to go away – fermenting and pickling – along with soaking, which allows flavours to absorb deep into food and enhance its tenderness.

What’s different about it?

The techniques being used to develop the dishes, with the launch menu featuring cured venison tartare, which is prepared using soaking techniques that create a product similar to a bresaola, according to Zachwieja.

Other dishes include Scottish ox cheek bourguignon, cup mushroom, lovage oil and aired potato or salted Scottish cod, watercress, musseroner (mushrooms) and crispy chicken skin – in a nod to other food trends that have been sneaking into a few places in the UK.

Even the desserts embrace soaking with the likes of rum baba, which will be soaked in fermented rum.

“We wanted to come up with a concept that was unique to Victoria,” Zachwieja told Food Spark’s sister site Big Hospitality. “I believe steeping and preserving are the best ways to develop deep, bold and strong flavours, whether it be with meats or vegetables or preparing fruit for use in desserts.

“The soaking techniques allow flavour to absorb deep into the foods and enhance tenderness. It’s all about creating a taste through longer periods of time, using methods that soak and steep food and drink with long-lasting flavour. Not only are we enhancing flavour but we are also using techniques that provide many health benefits, for example kefir, a fermented milk, can aid digestion.”

Zachwieja is also drawing on his Polish heritage for inspiration for the menu. “Nothing tastes more like Polish home-cooking than soaked, pickled or fermented food,” he added. “Brining and fermented are the techniques that I was brought up on, and I’ve used this style of cooking ever since I began working in kitchens in my native Poland. The seasonal menu I am developing will include signature dishes that have been enhanced through brining, steeping, fermenting and soaking.”

The restaurant will be open from 7am to 2am on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

You’ve got to try...

Wood pigeon, pearl barley koji, anchovies, flat turnip and fermented mooli. Interestingly koji has been tipped to appear more in cooking as chefs’ experiment with the ingredient.

Sparkie also likes...

A veggie hit, with a dish of Sussex peas, Yorkshire sheep yoghurt and grelot onion.

Go if...

You want a gut friendly meal full of flavour.

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