Rogues London, Well Street Kitchen, Food review


Sat unassumingly on the bustling Well Street is the inventively named Wells Street Kitchen. But tonight it sheds its daytime coat of brunch and coffee and dons a cloak of haute cuisine, as the Rogues boys pop up inside!

Freddie Sheen and Zac Whittle (the bearded chaps in the logo) are not only masters of food (being the principal chefs) but also of the marketing, popping up all over the city (sounds dirty somehow). Along with Fridays in Hackney, they also have an event in Parlour in West London on Monday nights.

But enough exposition! Munching to be done. Inside is a sweet East London coffee shop, the disconnect between the high-end food and unpretentious interiors is one of the charms of temporary restaurants. Black and white chessboard tables cluster along the walls, and local artwork is for sale, the lights reflecting off the clienteles smiles as they decimate multiple bottles of wine. The atmosphere is happing and a little conspiratorial, like we and we alone, have found a secret so easily hidden.

Two glasses of Millesimato, Le Pinanure prosecco land fizzing at our elbows and we are off. Emma our charming corduroy-clad waitress explains the concept and Zac introduces the first dish.

Two “bitting’s” (christened thus by Zac as “the word snack is overused”) sit prettily starting up at us from oversized slates of marble. The crispy chicken thigh with Kohirabi and a kimchi glaze is like a chicken nugget moved way upmarket, dusted with crown of tiny salad leaves, glorious. Its neighbour on the plate (Looking like no tart I have ever seen) is a cheese and onion tart with bacon jam. Crumbling like some ancient relic when prodded into a cheesy bacon flavoured pile, that I would lick from the plate if we weren’t in public.

Next is the first disappointment of the night, up floats the smallest loneliest looking little flatbread, with chicken skin, corn, mushroom and green tomato slices placed so carefully over it. Sadly rather plain. It is nicknamed the “bad Taco” and on we move.

The courses come hard and fast. We opt to try the cocktails and are shocking and surprised that they are pre-made. I hear you shudder through the screen, I know, but the company Little Mercies is an intrepid bar in Crouch End providing complex cocktails in vintage glass bottles. The Bellini is the best I have ever had, a dusty orange, with a tart spritz quality. The chocolate old fashion and pink lotus Martini served over ice (in a water glass, which is rather dangerous for a transparent drink) were also stunners.

The bread course trundles along and thankful is a massive wedge of sourdough (I can see the relief in my partner’s eyes). Caramelised onion that will make you see god and a Bovril butter that I would happily slap a close relative to have all to myself.

Zac glides over with two disk-shaped bowls and what looks like a whipped cream canister. This is the Heritage Pumpkin, with chestnut and black garlic, with a final touch of drama. A parmesan espuma, not essence of big cat but a foam (and now apparently my first child’s name). This autumnal favourite is warming and over too soon.

The main follows quickly on the heels of the puma (espuma sorry!) and what a sight! More artwork than food, a piece of BBQ hispi cabbage is crowned with mustards seeds like caviar, the whole affair is then drizzled with a pipping red-brown Lamb bolognese sauce. Underneath the mantle of the cabbage hides shy circles of cooked carrot and swede. If Matisse did food this would be his offering.

A glass (or two, are you counting?) of the marvelous Moscato D’asti ready us for the culmination of our food journey, and into deserts we plunge.

A little plum doughnut bite on a sinful bed of cheesecake mouse is first, amusing but too canapé-Esq. Lastly a pistachio cake with poached grape and ver jus, interesting in colour but a little bland in comparison to some of the outstanding flavours experienced throughout the night.

We recline into our chairs, entertained, not entirely full, but simulated. The portions are small, as to be expected, but the flavours are larger than life. The boy’s set the standard so high with the Bovril butter and the beauty of the main that they can be their own worst enemy when you start comparing dishes.

But will that be forever? Zac mentions mummers of a brick and mortar venue in Balham, and soon to be announced (you heard it here first folks) is a 4-week residency at the Hackney Coffee Company, Thursday-Saturday with a weekend brunch taster menu.

Of course, this is such a hard time for restaurants, but the boys seem to have it in their stride, from offering a delivery service to keep getting the buzz around their brand going as they wander nomadic across the London food scene. I look forward immensely to what they will bring to their own restaurant and if its anything like tonight so should you.