Scroll to discover more about Britain’s influence on American cooking and insights into the people and places from the video.

MARK PARR’S GUIDE Wood Flavors And Pairings Read →

MEET MARK HIX The Chef Bringing Back British Food Read →

“Cooking over wood in this country has developed over the years and it’s become much more of a cultural thing.”– MARK HIX

COOKING WITH WOOD Tips From the ExpertsRead →

REDUCING FOOD WASTEFrom Farm to PlateRead →

THE EXPERTS PICK Where To Get A Wood Cooked MealRead →

GALLERY Bites From The VideoView →

“We’ve seen chefs all over the world and the UK cooking with fire and now it’s gaining traction here in Brooklyn.”– KEVIN ADEY

KEVIN ADEY’SWood-Roasted Celtuce with Dill and Trout RoeWatch →

“I think we’ve made it easier for chefs in that we’ve turned wood into an ingredient.”– MARK PARR

MARK HIX’SBaked Salmon with Honey, Mustard, and DillView →

MAKING THE PAIRINGDinner And A DrinkRead →

KEVIN ADEY’SMallard Duck Breast with Rhubarb, Fennel, and HoneyView →

DAN KLUGER’SSimple Roasted T-Bone SteakView →

“Cooking with wood is a good way to make sure your food really stands out from other people’s.”– JAMES LOWE

CUTTING BACKTo Eat Better, Opt For SimplicityRead →

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Cooking with wood and fire is about more than tradition or visual aesthetics: It’s about bringing flavors and textures to food that can’t be replicated over a gas stove.
Mark Parr has been dubbed London’s ‘Professional Pyromaniac,’ and the moniker isn’t wrong. The head of The London Log Company supplies the city’s restaurant world with gourmet wood and charcoal, and he can recite the flavor profiles of myriad different woods off the top of his head.
Wood cooking can be done over a simple outdoor grill, as above, or with the high-end, specialized equipment that is turning up in a growing number of London’s best kitchens.
Mark Hix travelled to the Tregothnan estate to learn more about how different woods are sourced, harvested, and paired with foods.
Since various wood species have unique aromas and flavors, woods and foods must be well-matched. Seafood, for example, pairs well with citrus-toned woods.
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MARK PARR’S GUIDE

Wood Flavors And Pairings

Mark Parr, widely known throughout Britain as the go-to expert when it comes to wood cooking, takes us through the flavor profiles and ideal pairings of different woods.

Wood has been an essential fuel and ingredient for cooking over the last 1.9 million years, though, of late, some other forms of energy have taken hold in the kitchen. While gas, electricity, and sous-vide cooking have all assisted chefs in their endeavors, the return to the joys of wood is making its presence felt. And especially for the outdoor cook, wood is king!

Its flavor is unmatched and the relative ease with which it can be acquired makes it an accessible way to cook at home or in the field. If you think of wood as existing on an aromatic spectrum, from heavy to light, and from sweet to pleasantly acidic, then you’ll be able to ‘visualize’ and quantify the ‘nosing’ notes more clearly. I also find some classic wine tasting notes are useful too. Earthy, mineral, verdant, and vinous are all relevant to identifying wood flavors.

Often the soil type in which a tree grows is reflected in the aromatic character, as apple and other tree fruit benefit from a soil with around 5.6 pH levels: This is reflected in the sweetness-to-acid balance of the smoke and coal. Lastly, the burn quality, or calorific output, is important. Some wood burns fast and furiously, which is great for direct cooking on fire iron pans. But for longer and more lasting fire, we need coals and embers. On the scale used below, high-burning woods are a 10, with lower burning woods closer to 0.

Oak (9.0 Burn Value)

Tasting Notes: Oak is the classic culinary hardwood. It has rightly earned its place around the globe as one of the go-to flavors. Its smoke strength is medium to strong in the early stage, but this settles as the wood colliers into coals, from which the sweeter beurre-noisette (butter-vanilla) notes are released.

Oak features base notes of raw tobacco and peat, along with a fine and high metallic “thread” in the upper register, cutting through to the finish. Overall, it’s warm, rich, and classic.

Food Pairings: Beef and pork are favorites. Venison and game work well, as do oily fish like herring, salmon, mackerel, and tuna. For vegetables and fruits, use carrots, cabbage, tomatoes, and root vegetables, or peaches and bananas.

Holm Oak (9.5 Burn Value)

Tasting Notes: Holm Oak is a subspecies of oak that deserves its own entry. It’s one of the most unusual oak woods, in that it's an evergreen and produces edible acorns that feed the pigs that produce Serrano ham.

The wood burns sweet and hot, with more of a pronounced vanilla and butter aromatic, with a light base earthiness. The smoke is medium to light later in the burn, but it has some special qualities that make it worthy of a high place in my top five woods.

Food Pairings: Sea bream, tuna, and lobster. Root vegetables, peppers, onions, and courgettes. Char calcots (early spring onions) and leeks to near blackness, then split from the skins after a rest period. The same can be done with plums, peaches, lemons, and oranges.

Apple (9.5 Burn Value)

Tasting Notes: Apple wood is often considered the chief of the fruitwood. The apple tree trunk is harder and denser than the secondary branch wood. Variation within the tree is notable. Knotted and gnarled trunk wood burns longer and gives richer notes, with a comparative lightness coming from the branch wood. It has a medium-light smoke character, but it’s also sweet, with pleasant and balancing acidic qualities. There’s a dry-meadow hay and a vinous aroma character, underscored with a fudge and sherbet finish.

I love the cooking Bramley varieties, along with the cider apple types, too. The exploration of different apple wood varieties is a subgenre of its own.

Food Pairings: Light fish and fowl. Pairs interestingly with lamb, calf livers, pork, and beef. For vegetables, pair with cauliflower, carrots, baby gem lettuce, and tomatoes. Also goes with strawberries, whiteberries, blackberries, cream, and butter.

Silver Birch (7.5 Burn Value)

Tasting Notes: Silver birch, when fired, has a unique and unmatched aromatic profile. It has light-medium smoke notes, but it’s the citric and almost oily-spirit-turpentine ‘nose’ that strikes through. A Lille flint and copper spike appear in the top notes too. Think ripe pears and fermented fruit lightly grazing the base notes. Once lodged into the olfactory library, it can’t be mistaken.

This tree produces a rustic drinking spirit in the right hands, when trees are tapped and the sap is made into liqueurs and wines. It’s also a common plantation crop, though the colder the area in which it grows, the more depth to its sap and complex aroma notes.

Food Pairings: Arctic char, king crab, trout, and scallops in the shells, directly on the coals. Pair with sweeter root vegetables and strong green-leaf vegetables. Berries and creams also match well.


Photography by Tim Cole

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Mark Hix is known as London’s leading voice when it comes to British cuisine and regional history, and each of his restaurants emphasizes a welcoming environment and straightforward, gourmet-level British dishes and ingredients.
Hix’s book, British Regional Food, is considered fundamental reading for chefs interested in traditional British food and sourcing of local ingredients.
One of Hix’s rules is that no dish should have more than three main ingredients–the food should speak for itself.
Hix owns and operates nine different restaurants across London, each with a slightly different focus, whether it’s on seafood, drinks, or steak.
At each of his venues, Hix wants the atmosphere and the food to be welcoming and dynamic, never pretentious.
Hix is known as much for his cooking as for his demeanor: He is known among his peers as one of the friendliest and most down-to-earth members of London’s culinary scene.
Hix is intrigued by the emerging trend of cooking over wood fires, crediting expert Mark Parr with elevating his knowledge of flavor pairings made possible through wood cooking.
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MEET MARK HIX

The Chef Bringing Back British Food

Mark Hix runs nine restaurants, has written 10 cookbooks, and is a leader in the battle to reverse the stereotype that British food isn’t interesting.

Mark Hix isn’t interested in pretense.

He probably doesn’t have time for it. His portfolio of restaurants is up to nine, and he’s about to expand, thanks to partnerships with British hospitality groups. He distrusts complexity in his cuisine, employing a rule of “no more than three main ingredients on the plate.”

Hix’s faith in simplicity and straightforwardness is reflected in his ten cookbooks and regular columns in some of the country’s most widely circulated publications.

At Tramshed, one of Hix’s restaurants, the focus is on chicken and steak dishes (and an eye-catching overhead installation of a cow in formaldehyde).

Hix has been working in kitchens since his school days, when he worked at a local pub for pocket money. After that came science studies, catering college, and, after moving to London when he was just 18, kitchen training at some of the city’s best hotels and restaurants. As his reputation and experience grew, he eventually became head chef at Le Caprice, one of the most venerated and glamorous faces of old-guard British dining.

In 2008, after 17 years at Le Caprice, he struck out on his own, opening Hix Oyster and Chop House, an elegant, oyster-focused space that set the precedent for Hix’s future bar and restaurant spaces. Hix keeps the focus on British ingredients and cuisine, having emphasized his desire to keep his food British, with a twist.

Food critics welcomed Hix’s brand of authenticity and quality from the beginning, praising his dishes and atmospheres for being accessible and comforting while maintaining the highest quality. His dishes—often variations on traditional British offerings like fish and chips or steak pies—range from straightforward to innovative.

Hix’s real specialty might be in provenance—the story and background behind the food that he uses in his restaurants. Sourcing his ingredients within Britain has become his rule, thanks to increased awareness of sustainable practices and growing interest in local food. An evangelist for the idea that British food is dynamic and evolving, he wrote a book in 2008, British Regional Food, which established him as one of the U.K.’s top experts on the country’s food history and contemporary culture.

The success of Hix Oyster and Chop House was followed by the openings of Hix Mayfair, Hix Soho, Hix City, Tramshed, Hixter Bankside, and a late-night bar in The Old Vic Theatre. Each venue offers a bit of a different atmosphere or food and drink selection, but they all have Hix’s focus on Britain and on fun in common.

But success and fame haven’t gone to his head. His friends and peers unfailingly describe him as kind and down-to-earth, a man simply doing what he loves most and constantly on the lookout for his next source of inspiration. He’s continuing to open restaurants, write more columns, and think up new techniques and dishes, with the dedication and curiosity that’s made him one of Britain’s most distinctive chefs.


Photography by Tim Cole

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Mark Hix, one of our featured chefs, met experts and colleagues who all cook over wood flames and all have their own advice for newcomers to the craft.
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COOKING WITH WOOD

Tips From the Experts

For novices, the idea of cooking over wood might seem intimidating, but our featured chefs have some fundamental tips.

Mark Hix

  • 1. Be sure to season and dry the wood properly before cooking.
  • 2. Pick a wood that best suits the flavor of the food.
  • 3. Using a wood grill doesn’t have to just be about meat. Grilling vegetables gives a slightly different flavor than steaming and if you’re cooking outdoors or eating it with grilled meat it makes a nice, simple and luxurious accompaniment.

Kevin Adey

  • 1. Build the fire and cook with the heat, not the flames.
  • 2. Move the food, not the fire, to adjust cooking times.
  • 3. Be patient and vigilant, checking your food often even if cooking times are long. Longer, slower cooking times allow food to absorb more of the wood’s flavors.

Dan Kluger

  • 1. I find that a blazing hot fire (which is easy to get with wood) gives amazing caramelization, perfect for steaks, pork chops, chicken with the skin on, broccoli, peaches, and corn.
  • 2. Cooking foods slower (off to the side) and covered imparts a ton more flavor, adding an extra element to foods like chicken, mushrooms, and tomatoes.
  • 3. I also prefer to work over the embers when going for heat, rather than the flame, as it can impart a slightly more acrid flavor.

Photography by Tim Cole

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Finding and familiarizing yourself with the right kind of wood-burning oven is just as important as the wood that goes into it.
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THE SCIENCE

Behind the Smoke

Cooking over a wood fire might seem primitive, but a complex scientific process is behind the smoky flavor you can only achieve in a wood-based grill.

There’s something undeniably satisfying about cooking something over a wood fire. To an extent, it takes us back to a straightforward, hands-on process that results in something everyone needs. Plus, fire.

There’s also the unmistakable, inimitable flavor created by something cooked over wood or charcoal: Smoke combines with the specific aroma of the wood being used in a way that standard gas can’t replicate. There’s actually a very specific chemical process that leads to that flavor, an added level of complexity behind what seems like a simpler way to cook.

Brad Kent, L.A.-based food scientist and executive chef of Olio Wood Fired Pizzeria as well as the successful wood-grilled pizza chain Blaze Pizza, has been cooking with wood since Olio’s founding in 2010 and hasn’t gone back to conventional gas since. “When I decided to turn off the gas and cook with wood, I’d been cooking for about 25 years,” he says. “It was the first time in my life I felt a connection with cooking that I had never felt before.”

But Kent is also well versed in the scientific technicalities that produce the distinctive texture and taste of wood-cooked food. It begins, he says, with the wood itself. Species of wood have distinct aromas, densities, and levels of moisture, and as a result, each produces its own level of heat and steam. “Different types and species of wood will produce a different amount of BTUs (British thermal units), or heat per pound,” Kent says. “Olive wood, for example, will produce a lot more heat per pound than a piece of almond wood.”

In that case, it’s important to know if it would be better to cook at high heat or low heat—for example, wood-fired pizza should be cooked over wood that burns hot, while barbecue should be over low-burning wood. And it’s important to know how flavors pair, since the wood smoke imbues whatever it’s cooking with its particular flavor. “Pecan wood has a certain flavor, and so does oak, hickory, and others,” Kent says. “There are over 400 different chemical compounds found in wood smoke.”

More specifically, esters, aromatic ketones, and phenolic aldehyde all impart the smoke flavor that only emerges from wood-grilled food. Those compounds also have certain preservative qualities due to the level of acidity on the surface of the food, which helps prevent the growth of bacteria.

At the same time, Kent says to beware of carcinogens that can be created from reactions between food drippings and wood smoke. They’re easily preventable—a fruit-based ingredient in the marinade or dressing helps stop harmful compounds from forming in foods as they’re being grilled. Some studies also warn against overcooking.

Kent also believes that cooking with wood retains a certain moisture and texture, particularly in meat, that gets lost with standard gas cooking. “It makes sense to me,” he says. “Wood has moisture trapped in it, and one of the byproducts of cooking with wood will be that steam that escapes from it.”

So the benefits of cooking with wood all stem from the closed loop of flavors and compounds circulating between the food and the fuel. The process—which might seem simple because it is primal—is built around an elaborate set of chemical relationships, and Kent believes that every chef using wood should become familiar with those relationships. “What really attracted me to cooking with wood is that it wasn’t about me and the oven making food,” he says. “It’s the two of us working together to make food.”


Photography by Tim Cole

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A staggering amount of edible food is thrown out every day, both at home and abroad.
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ENDING THE CYCLE

Reducing Food Waste, From Farm To Plate

How are the high-end chefs of the U.K. reducing food waste?

Imagine throwing out almost half of the food on your plate at every meal. It’s pretty close to what we’re doing on a national scale: A staggering 40 percent of the food produced in the U.S. ends up going to waste.

It’s a problem abroad, too. In the U.K., an estimated seven million tons of food and drink are thrown out every year. We all know that we should keep our portion sizes reasonable, freeze our leftovers to be eaten later, and store food correctly to keep it fresher for longer. We should also opt for companies and restaurants that advertise sustainability and responsible sourcing and cooking processes. But it’s also about the nature of what’s on our plates, and in response, some of Britain’s chefs are transforming unexpected, often discarded ingredients into main dishes at high-end British restaurants.

Take Michelin-starred Scottish chef Andrew Fairlie, whose renowned Gleneagles promises that every dish will be waste-free, as he incorporates everything from crispy pig tails to veal cheeks to vegetable roots in his menu. Or Bristol-based up-and-coming chef Shane Jordan, who’s innovating waste-free vegetarian cuisine that uses banana skins and squash rinds at Arc Cafe. Or any number of Britain’s well-known chefs who in 2011 joined a national campaign to end food waste.

A similar movement has taken off in the States. By 2015, chefs across the country were calling for the reduction of food waste, advocating for initiatives like pop-up restaurants utilizing often-discarded ingredients, and starting education programs in their communities. This year, a group of American celebrity chefs, including Tom Colicchio, pressed the House Agriculture Committee for federal legislature on food waste. Steven Satterfield, executive chef and co-owner of Miller Union in Atlanta, also met with members of Congress to encourage collaboration between the public and private sectors to keep American resources from going to waste.

“[The waste cycle] is a very complex problem that is multi-tiered from the farms all the way to the consumer,” Satterfield says. In other words, food waste occurs at every stage of production and consumption--from farms that discard “ugly” or unconventional-looking produce or growing crops that aren’t in season to restaurants and grocery stories that throw out uneaten or spoiled food to consumers who fail to take sustainability into account when sourcing their ingredients or just throw out leftovers.

Satterfield’s cookbook, “Root To Leaf” (the title is a play on the “nose to tail” approach to cooking) shows its readers how they can utilize almost every part of standard produce, even the parts we usually discard. And he sees awareness grow—in his restaurant and on a global scale—he feels optimistic about addressing the twin problems of food waste and food scarcity.

“We have momentum now and people actually understand the problem,” he says.“They have some bandwidth to deal with what’s actually going on, and it’s more of an open dialogue.”

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The number of restaurants employing wood-burning ovens and grills has been growing every year.
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THE EXPERTS PICK

Where To Get A Wood Cooked Meal

Our featured chefs give their recommendations of American and British restaurants employing wood-and-fire cooking.

New York

  • Faro
  • Italian-inspired bites are served in an industrial, open-kitchen space in Bushwick.
  • Gramercy Tavern
  • This Flatiron district staple features a new American menu with an emphasis on poaching and braising.
  • Marta
  • Italian food, wood-fired pizza, and great service characterize a well-lit dining room in Kips Bay.
  • Speedy Romeo
  • With a location in Clinton Hill and one in the Lower East Side, this pizza joint also specializes in steak and burgers.
  • Lilia
  • Recently opened in Williamsburg, Lilia is known for its pasta dishes and visible wood-fired oven.

London

  • Pitt Cue
  • Wood-smoked meat and other barbecue staples are served in a cozy, rustic spot on the South Bank.
  • River Café
  • Seasonal ingredients are highlighted in this riverside Italian destination.
  • Lyle’s
  • British dishes and a brightly-lit dining room draw a high-end crowd to this Shoreditch restaurant.

The Bay Area

  • Saison
  • Critically-acclaimed New American restaurant Saison began as a pop-up venture and now regularly appears on international best-of lists.
  • Camino
  • Known for its brunch offerings and warm atmosphere, the Oakland spot serves New American food from its wood-fired grill.

Header photo by Tim Cole

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Vegetables can be paired with different woods as effectively as meat. At The Tramshed, Mark Hix is using gas stoves, but he is avid to learn more about the art of cooking with wood.
At the Tramshed and his other restaurants, Hix has secured the exclusive rights to premium cuts of beef from the Glenarm estate’s farm in Ireland.
One of Hix’s prime directives is to source his produce locally, and he says that, despite the old stereotype, more green produce is available in the U.K. than ever before.
Hix visited his friend James Lowe at his restaurant Lyle’s, where he learned that wood burns at a high heat hard to achieve with gas stoves.
At Lyle’s, Lowe cooks everything from seafood to produce over a wood-burning fire.
Hix met with wood expert Mark Parr on the Tregothnan estate to learn about various wood flavors.
Hix and Parr experimented with cooking various dishes over wood sourced from the Tregothnan forests.
One of those dishes was scallops cooked directly over the fire in their shells.
On the estate, Hix experienced what Parr considers the most natural kind of cooking: using wood flames to cook out in the open.
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GALLERY

Bites from the Video

A viewer’s guide to its ingredients and dishes.

Over the course of our video shoot, we were fortunate enough to watch some of London’s premier chefs preparing signature dishes with gourmet ingredients. While we didn’t have quite enough time to feature the entire cooking process in the video, we captured some beautiful photography of some of the plates we only wish we could have brought back with us.

The Tramshed

We began with Mark Hix, a renowned chef whose straightforward but innovative take on traditional British cuisine has led to nine restaurants and a distinguished reputation in the British culinary world. The Tramshed’s kitchen features a custom-made grill that can handle the high volume of meat that goes out to the dining room.

“We’ve got a kilo of Glenarm rib steak and a kilo of porterhouse. We actually have exclusivity on all this beef,” Hix told us, meaning that his is the only restaurant supplied by the Glenarm estate in Ireland.

Hix was preparing asparagus to go with the meat: “We’re going to barbecue some Rye Valley asparagus. It doesn’t take long on the grill, and it gives the asparagus a slightly different flavor.”

Lyle’s

We followed Hix to Lyle’s to speak to co-owner and head chef James Lowe, who has worked with a wood-burning oven and charcoal grill and since Lyle’s opened.

Lowe doesn’t think he’d go back to cooking over conventional gas because of the special effect that the intense heat generated by wood-burning ovens can have on meat and seafood. “Fish cooks in about a minute and a half in the oven,” he said. “Instead of the careful slow cooking that we do with a lot of other things, it’s about intense heat.”

The Tregothnan Estate

To learn more about how to cook with wood, Hix met with expert wood-sourcer Mark Parr, who supplies the British restaurant world with the species of wood that pair best with their menus.

Parr and Hix paired lamb with English oak: “It’s beautiful because they’ve got a similar environment that they grow in,” Parr said. “They seem to work really well together.”


Photography by Tim Cole

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IN FULL

Wood-Roasted Celtuce with Dill and Trout Roe

Kevin Adey, chef and owner of Faro in Brooklyn, prepares a vegetable dish that acquires so much flavor from his wood-burning oven that no salt or pepper is required.

Kevin Adey on crafting the dish:

“This dish is a collision of powerful heat and delicate flavors. The subtle coconut flavors of the celtuce are brought out by the fire and the salinity in the trout roe brings the whole dish together.”

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Though it’s not necessary to the recipe, cooking the salmon on a wood plank contributes additional flavor.
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MARK HIX’S

Baked Salmon with Honey, Mustard, and Dill

One of London’s leading chefs shares a recipe of simple flavors that come together to build an elaborate dish.

“I found the recipe for this excellent buffet or sharing dish--rather like a hot baked gravadlax without the curing process--in a Russian cookbook. A few years ago I was given a wooden plank by a Scandinavian friend specifically for roasting meat and fish. You pre-soak the plank in water overnight and cook your fish on top of it to impart a slightly smoky flavour, which works perfectly here.”

Ingredients:

  • 1 x 1kg salmon side (with skin), trimmed and bones removed
  • Sea salt
  • Freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons dijon mustard
  • 3-4 tablespoons of clear honey
  • 4-5 tablespoons of dill, finely chopped
  • or 4-5 tablespoons fennel tops, finely chopped

Method:

Preheat the oven to 450°F.

Lay the salmon skin-side down on a baking tray or pre-soaked wooden plank. Season the fish, then spread with the mustard and scatter the dill or fennel tops evenly.

Spoon the honey over the fish and bake in the oven for 10–15 minutes, until just cooked. Serve hot or cold with a warm potato salad with sliced shallots and olive oil, or a raw shaved fennel salad.

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The practice of pairing dishes with drinks other than wine is a new twist on a venerable tradition.
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MAKING THE PAIRING

Dinner And A Drink

How and why did the gastropub become a reigning approach to the dining room?

To the dining-spoiled of New York, having a gourmet meal with a craft beer served at the bar doesn’t sound like too much to ask, but the ability to do it has come only recently.

It began in London, at a bar called The Eagle, in 1991, and it was a welcome change to Britain’s existing pub culture. Emily Green, the first food critic to review The Eagle, for The Independent, said it felt “like sunshine” in comparison to its peers at the time. The approach caught on quickly across the U.K., but it wasn’t until the early 2000s that the first gastropubs began emerging in the States. Today, they’re a distinct subculture of American dining, complete with their own Michelin stars and restaurant awards and a new generation of chefs and restaurateurs who build spaces that combine good drink with good food.

Those spaces also celebrated and transformed local dishes in ways that made them food destinations, not just a watering holes. U.S. gastropubs are often judged on the merit of their—what else—American burger.

The first gastropubs in America to find commercial and critical success made their names through burgers upgraded with dry-aged beef, caramelized onions, gruyere, and arugula. e. Artisanal beers and carefully crafted cocktails are standard features of gastropubs across the States, which are diversifying in style and substance--from oyster, seafood, and wine bars to pickle-and-biscuit pubs.

According to Jaime Felber, British transplant and co-owner of East Village gastropub Boulton & Watt, “gastropub” does indeed now mean something completely different in the U.S. and the UK. “’Gastropub’ doesn’t have the same connotation in England that it does in the U.S.,” he says. “A gastropub in England is an old pub that was dying out because of competition around it that was brought up or rejuvenated in some way.”

To Felber, the American iteration of a gastropub, and the philosophy he and his co-founders take to Boulton & Watt is simple: “We offer good food, good drink, the best bar available, good service, and we take care of the neighborhood and our regulars.”

As national tastes and the culture of sustainability continue to evolve, the gastropub approach is changing too. Critics have pointed out that gastropubs can be an accessible way for Americans to experience and learn about cuisine that is sourced responsibly, prepared more carefully, and served by better-paid staff.

In other words, the gastropub and its variations can lead to better food, drinks, and practices. What better British import could there be?

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The fennel components of this dish cut through the sweetness of the honey.
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KEVIN ADEY’S

Mallard Duck Breast with Rhubarb, Fennel, and Honey

The owner and chef at Faro shares a gourmet dish you can make at home.

“This was the first recipe we did for the [Faro opening] menu and it has sentimental value to me. Also, the pickled local rhubarb pairs so well with the duck itself and the anise glaze on the duck. The inspiration was pairing pickles with a rich meat. The high heat of the wood fire really helps set the glaze into a lacquer, which really sets the dish apart from conventional cooking techniques.”

For the Duck and Honey Butter:

  • 1 lb duck breast
  • 1 tbsp fennel seed
  • 1 tbsp coriander
  • 1 tbsp star anise
  • 4 tbsp butter
  • 3 tbsp honey

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit.

Toast the fennel seed, coriander, and star anise in a dry pan. Once toasted, add the butter and stir until golden brown. Stir in the honey and reserve. To cook the duck, sear the duck skin side down in a heavy pan for approximately 20 minutes to render the fat and to make the skin crispy. Then remove from the pan and baste the duck in the honey butter. Once basted, finish cooking in the oven for about five minutes.

For the Fennel Puree:

  • 3 heads fennel, sliced
  • 1 yellow onion, peeled and sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and sliced
  • Olive oil

Cook fennel, onion, and garlic in a pan with olive oil until caramelized. Puree in a blender when warm and reserve.

For the Fennel Salad:

  • 1 head of fennel
  • Salt & pepper
  • Lemon
  • Olive oil

Thinly slice a head of fennel and season with salt, pepper, lemon juice, and olive oil to taste.

For the Rhubarb:

  • 4 stalks rhubarb, sliced and reserved in a bowl
  • 1 cup white vinegar
  • 3 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp salt

Add the white vinegar, water, and salt into a small pot on the stove and bring to a boil. Then pour over the sliced rhubarb.

Divide the fennel salad, fennel puree, and rhubarb between the two plates. Slice the duck and serve on top of the vegetables.

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Dan Kluger is opening his own, highly-anticipated restaurant in Greenwich Village this fall.
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DAN KLUGER’S

Simple Roasted T-Bone Steak

Dan Kluger, whose highly-anticipated restaurant Loring Place is opening this fall, shares a recipe that requires few ingredients but gains unique texture from being charred directly on wood.

For the Steak:

  • T-Bone steak, at least 1 in. thick and 20 oz.
  • 2 tbsp California Olive Ranch Arbequina Olive Oil
  • 8-10 cloves of garlic – peeled and smashed
  • 4-5 sprigs of thyme – lightly bruised in your hand
  • Kosher salt as needed
  • Black pepper – freshly ground as needed

Method:

Season the steak fairly generously with salt and pepper. Drizzle with the oil and rub in. Sprinkle a little more oil on a parchment-lined baking dish and top with some garlic and thyme. Place the steak on top and add more garlic and thyme to top the steak and cover. Allow to sit at room temperature for one hour.

Make a fire towards one side of a grill with about four or five logs. Once the flames are beginning to die down a bit, place the steak at the side so it’s not in direct heat and is beginning to warm through. Make sure it’s far enough away that it’s beginning to slowly cook without getting any color. Once the logs have burned down to hot embers and the steak is beginning to feel tight and warm to the touch, scrape off the garlic and place directly over the embers and char one side really well. Flip and char the other side, moving on and off the heat in order to cook to desired doneness. Remove from the grill and place on a wire rack set on top of a plate. Cover with foil and let rest at last 10 minutes. Slice and arrange in serving dish and sprinkle with coarse sea salt. Serve with a compote such as an onion jam or some roasted tomatoes.

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To Mark Hix, good food isn't complicated: He advocates for two to three main ingredients in a plate.
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Watch Part Two,
“Mark Hix and Wood-Fire Cooking”

CUTTING BACK

To Eat Better, Opt For Simplicity

In a move away from complexity and pretention, high-end dining embraces authenticity.

Starched tablecloths, elaborate courses, dishes so transformed they are almost theater: For decades, these have been hallmarks of fine dining. In the new millennium, however, the rise of organically sourced dining and the search for “authentic” dishes seem to suggest American foodies are looking for something different in their dining experience. Restaurateurs are starting to do away with the pretensions of high-end dining, choosing to emphasize the connection between the plate and what’s on it. It might be called a revolution of sorts—but as history bears out, what’s revolutionary in the New World is often par across the pond.

Culinary mavericks throughout Europe have long steered Britain’s hand in molecular gastronomy—the food science in which chefs transform the physical nature of ingredients to present a more innovative plate. The resulting innovation—think mango turned into light mousse, or a cocktail served as a gel cube—was lauded across the food sphere. But even as these peculiar metamorphoses came across the Atlantic, they lost their allure for some British chefs who called the method “short-lived,” full of “gimmicks and trends.” What has since followed is a return to basics: down-to-earth cookery, in senses both literal and figurative.

Even without getting down to a molecular level, British cuisine already has the kind of straightforward food sense the world now craves. The approach taken by many British chefs holds a mirror to the changing face of fine dining: Foodies want fare that is simpler, both in the plating and the process. Mark Hix embodies this approach–both by sourcing his ingredients within Britain and by highlighting no more than two or three main ingredients in his dishes, to keep the flavors clean and simple.

Now Americans are taking the same cue, favoring dishes made with less fuss that feel natural, timely, and unforced. Joey Campanaro’s cherished West Village spot The Little Owl is 10 years old this year, but his approach is anything but stale. His Italian-American upbringing, seasonal menu, and modest surroundings come together to create new riffs on culinary basics. “My space limits my ideas, so I have to make simple things great,” says Campanaro. “It makes my cooking simpler than I would like it to be, but I think that’s a blessing in disguise.”

Campanaro may be on to something: The return to cooking food simply, in a way that is as understated and unflashy as the ingredients, befits its British beginning. “Professional cuisine was born in Europe, and those culinary philosophies are stronger there,” he admits. But, he adds, “I do believe that...food culture is our common bond. It has the power to connect.” We’ve seen (rather, tasted) the results. And however much Britain’s culinary backyard comes to bloom, American chefs can—and will—continue to look over the wall.


Photography by Tim Cole

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