A ragged-edged, gold-painted door lets you know that Flavour Bastard has swagger. Located on the old Arbutus site in Soho, the restaurant’s Afroditi Krassa-designed, ‘opulent-meets-industrial’ interiors speak of everywhere and nowhere in particular.
Just like exec. chef Pratap Chahal’s menu, which imperiously cherry-picks ingredients from around the world, flinging them together in eyebrow-raising assemblies which shouldn’t always work but, without fail, do. The menu is divided into tiny and small plates. Three per person are recommended, but we comfortably (or greedily, whatever) work our way through a nonet.
From the first bite to the last, we’re seduced by big, bold flavours. Those meeker of palate could call it an assault, but even then they’d be hard pressed to say it was one they altogether objected to. The venue name might be divisive, but it fits – anything else wouldn’t accurately surmise Pratap’s rumbustious approach to food. That’s not to say Flavour Bastard’s cuisine is unrefined. Each dish is beautifully presented, and, praise be, every element on a plate is there for reasons beyond aesthetics. Drinks are similarly triumphant; from Dad’s pandan-infused Bastard Brew to my negroni, which substitutes sweet wine from Chios for vermouth.
Bengali five spice-infused soda bread with vibrant, zesty turmeric and pickled onion butter and beef, lamb and pork drippings topped with chicken scratchings wins our hearts immediately, and standards do not slip – our ample order is all killer. Deep-fried feta dispels the notion that the Greek cheese shouldn’t be cooked thus; white lentil and chorizo donuts riff on South India’s vada; kasundi mustard-infused mackerel and anchovy pate is ingeniously served alongside pork scratchings. We’d never have ordered the ‘cloud of curds’ had our waitress not revealed that Pratap cajoled the recipe out of a North Indian royal family, but we’re glad we did because the spiced creamy patty with herby, hot chutney is delicious. As is velvet-fleshed miso-and-mustard aubergine.
Miss the refreshingly piquant bastard steak tartare at your peril – ditto the tandoori fried chicken that would have a certain Colonel spinning in his grave. Dingley Dell pork belly is crispy, sticky, sweet and spicy – what more could you want? Well, pudding, obviously – and, for us, a slightly-salted Mayan-spiced chocolate brownie mousse and a bergamot tart with an under-layer of Japanese red bean paste do the job very nicely indeed.
Outrageous in name, decor and menu – and, quite simply, outrageously good.
63-64 Frith Street, London W1D 3JL, flavourbastard.com
By Zoe Perrett