Wintry Comfort Food Reaches New Levels At This Soho Pop-Up
Running a residency at The Sun & 13 Cantons in Soho comes with unfair advantage. The sliver of dining room running along the edge of the main pub is a lovely spot at anytime of day, but has to be at its best on a wintry evening. There's a general glow of bonhomie cast over your dinner just by being there: walls lined with big mirrors, bluey-green ceramic tiling and warm, corrugated glass lamps, with seating in leather-sofa rows — like a cross between the Orient Express and a Victorian bathhouse.
And now thrown into the mix are seriously charismatic staff, a well-priced bar snacks menu and a cast-iron pot of short-rib topped poutine. We're a bit smitten with the new Oxalis residency and it's only five minutes into the starters.
Max de Nahlnik and Nick Ross have to be high up the list of London chefs who don't need that helping boost conferred by the general loveliness of The Sun&13. Their six-month Soho residency comes on the heels of a stint in East Dulwich which dazzled our Features Editor. Phrases like 'melt on the tongue' and comparisons to Michelin-starred joints were tossed about.
Their new pop-up has us agreeing with all of that, and then some. The menu's broken into bar snacks and plates, the only obvious difference between them being that you could tackle all the bar snacks with your fingers, making them more viable to juggle with a pint if you're perched out in the pub section. Every dish from the Plates section is available in both small starter-tapas size or large: we go small, for breadth. Choosing between sesame hot wings and chilli cauliflower, or between cottage pie and grouse with little fingers of beef dripping toast is a mug's game.
They're all roughly recognisable dishes, all autumnal, wintry comfort food staples — but Oxalis turns out near-perfect versions of something familiar. The grouse is richer and earthier for the beef dripping and dabs of cep puree it comes with, the cottage pie's mash is cooked to a buttery crust, and our chilli cauliflower's tempura-level crunchy.
They've only just arrived, but we're already sorry Oxalis aren't going to be here longer. Still, if we had to choose a six-month period for them to be in Soho, we're pleased it's AW17: their menu would brighten the greyest of winters.
Last Updated 30 October 2017