It's Another Shrimp On The Barbie At Scarlett Green
With restaurants springing up across London — from Victoria’s Timmy Green and Little Venice’s Beany Green to Broadgate’s Peggy Jean — the Daisy Green collection is certainly sinking its teeth into the London food scene. With the collection’s latest addition, Scarlett Green in Soho, the Australian eatery is cementing the foundations of a mini gastronomic empire here in London.
In keeping with its sister restaurants, Scarlett Green provides a chic dining space complete with colour popping orange chairs, exposed pipework, semi-plastered walls, and contemporary artwork. The restaurant is inspired by the Melbourne and Sydney café culture.
The menu is equally à la mode; think vegemite and truffle doughnut single bites, and halloumi fries and pomegranate yogurt small plates. The ‘English rare bread grass fed steaks’ are a menu topper, we are told, but diners avoiding meat need not be concerned — the selection of vegetarian and vegan options is impressive, at least as far as the small plates are concerned. The choice of vegetarian-friendly mains is limited
We begin with a selection of small plates, which our friendly waiter pairs with two Australian wines; Ten Minutes by Tractor (Chardonnay) and Estate Pinot Grigio. The restaurant chain has the largest collection of Australian wines in London, we hear.
The small plates make their way to the table as and when they are ready, tapas-style. Each dish is beautifully executed; a carefully constructed platter of vibrant colours.
We start with the alluring beetroot salad. The golden beets and roasted fennel are delightful. The creamy house labneh (Greek yoghurt) is mild in taste, but rich in texture, with a kick from the Aleppo chilli.
Up next are the white asparagus and sprouting broccoli. The asparagus have a firm bite; at first we wonder if they are underdone. But perhaps we are accustomed to the all-too-ubiquitous soggy stem served in many establishments. Besides, we quite like the crunchy texture.
But it is the halloumi fries that steal the show. The crispy-coated cheese is salty and succulent on the inside, the side of pomegranate yoghurt adding a note of acidity, cutting through the saltiness.
Our final small plate is roasted celeriac, green apple and chestnut, a creamy dish that would have been perfect with a slice of crusty bread. Alone, it is a little sickly.
In seemingly authentic Australian style, the main courses fall under the umbrella category ‘BBQ’. There is a choice of meat and fish dishes, and a single vegetarian option — Aubergine parmigiana (for two).
We settle on the hot Bondi prawns in secret Scarlett sauce, and the vegetarian plate. The prawns, while visually appealing, are underwhelming. We are unconvinced by the ‘hot sauce’; there is no Bondi fire. The side of duck fat fries and truffle mayonnaise is similarly uneventful; the truffle is barely detectable.
The aubergine parmigiana turns out to be enormous. We're glad we insisted on a portion for one. Though generous in size, the flavours and textures are less bountiful. Both the cheese and tomato sauce are unremarkable, while the overriding texture is pulpy. Interest in the dish is quickly lost.
For pudding, we order the Melbourne Mars Bar cheesecake and the yoghurt pavlova. The deconstructed cheesecake is pretty; a sphere of milk chocolate, encasing a mascarpone cheese and Mars Bar centre, sitting on a bed of dark chocolate gravel. Despite its name, the cheesecake is not overly sweet. If anything, it airs on the side of savoury, at least as far as the filling is concerned. The tangy taste from the mascarpone cheese dominates.
Similarly, the yoghurt pavlova is not too sweet. The acidity from the yoghurt and the tartness from the rhubarb counterbalance the sweetness from the meringue. The dessert is pleasantly light.
We start our meal with unwavering enthusiasm. Perhaps the reputation of the sister restaurants gives us hope. Or perhaps we are overly roused by the small plates. Either way, we finish our meal feeling slightly less enthusiastic than when we started, but satisfied nonetheless.
Scarlett Green, 4 Noel St, Soho, W1F 8GB.
Last Updated 28 June 2018