"It's not much but it's ours"

Thursday, June 12, 2008


And when you smile for the camera
I know they're gonna love it

Rosie Sykes was the engine behind one of DH’s favourestest restaurants The Sutton Arms. A simple unassuming dining room above a pub in Clerkenwell, it was a sort of (very superior) canteen that I went to whenever I finished work at a late hour and had a hunger that needed assuaging. Despite the kitchen being not much bigger than a domestic version there was a constantly changing menu which provided plenty of choice and always reflected the seasons long before ‘seasonality’ became voguish.

There would be always be delicious homemade bread to start, then a little amuse. Starters might be a dense, rich Chicken Liver Parfait with a big Veal Chop to follow and then maybe a zingy Lemon Possett accompanied with homemade shortbread for pud. If I couldn’t finish a whole bottle of wine John, the friendly front of house would store it away, ready for my next visit.

The highlight of the year would be the Christmas Party where about thirty like-minded food obsessives would cram into the little room and Rosie would not only come up with a choice of lovely dishes for each course (a huge tranche of Brill lives long in the memory) but she would even bake some water biscuits to go with the huge slabs of cheese we brought along. Happy days indeed.

In the intervening years Rosie has become somewhat of a peripatetic chef and it’s probably not an exaggeration to say that if you’ve eaten out in London over the past five years you would have eaten Rosie’s food. To top it all she’s now gone and written a book with Polly Russell and Zoe Heron.

To call The Kitchen Revolution a cookbook is a bit like calling a Chuletón de Buey from the famed Galician Carne Roja beef a 'steak’. It’s actually a complete system for buying and cooking for a whole year. Chock full of recipes that look straightforward to prepare and that will produce stuff that you’d actually want to eat (how could you not love a dish called Giant Sausage Roll) it’s the perfect answer to the eternal dilemma of “What shall we eat today ?”. Well, it’s an eternal dilemma in the Dos Hermanos household – that’s why I bought a copy. Oh, and you can access recipes and shopping list online here.

The launch of The Kitchen Revolution was in a fine looking hall called The Tab Centre. This 19th century building was built by the Shoreditch Tabernacle Baptist Church and for many years provided a meeting place for the local East End community. It continues that role today as an arts and community centre and for tonight as a venue large enough to host the multitude of friends, family and liggers (that'll be me, then) who turned up to celebrate publication.

Food was simple, robust and generous (that'll be me, again): truckles of cheese, fine homemade soda bread, bowls of radishes and tomatoes with salsa verde and cheese straws. There was also plenty of wine, beer and jugs of elderflower cordial to wash it all down with.

I think I can safely say that a good time was had by all.

PS Apologies for the even worse than usual photos - it's pretty hard to snap away when you're holding a large glass of Burgundy (white) and chomping on an enormous cheese straw.

PPS And good luck to Rosie on her next venture !

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Blogger Hermano 2 said...

God, I miss Rosie's cooking. I think between us, we visited The Sutton Arms over 100 times. When she left, she even gave us the small mustard pot she kept aside because she always knew we would ask for it

Particular fond memories of meals there for Egullet Christmas parties, belly pork and London Particular soup.

The only person who has come close to Rosie for the generosity of spirit she shows in her cooking is Carole Craddock, recently o Vinoteca and now running her own pub in Rutland somewhere

As you say, happy days


Friday, June 13, 2008 9:42:00 am  
Blogger Trig said...

I'll have to show my dad this post and make him squirm. I have a photo of him dressed as a French maid at a work leaving do in that dining room upstairs at The Sutton Arms in Clerkenwell. And he still has uncomfortable memories of being downstairs in the pub shooting pool while my mum was in labour with my brother - she didn't speak to him for ages afterwards. I don't know who was cooking there in those days - it would have been 1983.

Sunday, June 15, 2008 8:02:00 am  
Blogger Hermano 1 said...

It's a bit sad walking past these days as they seem to have stopped doing food upstairs altogether.

It went through a phase of doing the sort of stuff that comes with 'a medley of vegetables' then it was a pizza joint for a bit.

Fancy opening a small restaurant ?

Sunday, June 15, 2008 12:58:00 pm  

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