I got an invite to return to the Endurance to meet the new Chefs. There was nothing wrong with the previous Chefs, but the Endurance rotates Chefs every 6 weeks to give both exposure to up and coming stars, and to always have a new culinary menu for customers. So for the next 6 weeks “The Free Company” are taking over the kitchen. The Free Company consists of David Boycott, Billy Stock and Josh Rhodes, a trio of young and talented chefs with an eclectic mix of culinary experience between them. David Boycott and Billy Stock are both of the Salt Yard Group, and Josh Rhodes helped set up the social enterprise restaurant Turl St Kitchen in Oxford.
Josh Rhodes, David Boycott and Billy Stock outside the Endurance
We met up mid afternoon, when the kitchen was closed, so we could talk and see around the kitchen; not possible when they are serving customers. Even at that time there were a few customers in the bar on laptops and reading books. It’s good to see the drink/work ethos hasn’t been lost in Soho.
David Boycott took us upstairs and showed us around the kitchen area. All clean stainless steel, but looking very cramped. The key to its success is organization and planning, and this was obvious as Billy Stock tended the cooking at the large gas range, whilst David talked us through the plans and aspirations for their 6 weeks. At no point did either of them get in each others way as they moved around the kitchen – it was like an orchestrated ballet. David highlighted his intention to continue to use fresh seasonal produce, easily recognizable to customers, but serve it with a modern take, so that you get the freshest food with a stylish delivery.
On the menu already is Braised Pork Cheek, King Oyster Mushrooms, Roasted Beetroot, Lamb Neck to name a few. There is also a chocolate peanut brittle desert to die for. Plates will come in a small or large option so that you can try a few dishes at a time without busting a budget.
It was unexpected, but David offered to make us a sample dish of Chicken drumstick with girolles and roasted garlic gnocchi, so we could get an example of what would be serving, and also to see them in action. How could we refuse such hospitality? Starting out with the raw ingredients, David explained how they prepared the meat beforehand, removing any surplus fat or bone, so that it comes perfectly ready to eat for the customers. It is the attention to detail like this that separates good Chef made food from anything you and I could even dream of creating.
The finished dish was laid out perfectly, and although I had seen each element being prepared and cooked it still looked like a moment of magic for it to suddenly come together.
And cutting into the chicken revealed perfectly cooked meat, no surplus fat, and full of flavor. I could go on but you get the picture.
The Endurance is a place to come to to sample great food by upcoming Chefs. You can be guaranteed that these Chefs will be big names in the future, so you will be able to say you knew them before they were famous. Saturdays is still a ‘reservation only’ lunchtime tasting menu. You would be a fool to miss this one.
I had to rush on to another event, which was a shame as the food was superb, and I was very tempted to stay and take a beer or wine alongside it. I’ll be back there when I have time for a full lunch and a bottle or two of wine.