JAY RAYNER  -The Observer - 23rd February 2014

(Chriskitch Muswell Hill)

 

7a Tetherdown, London N10 (020 8411 0051). Meal for two £40 (if you try hard).

I went to Muswell Hill in North London for salad. This was not easy. There was a tube strike, which made my home as remote from other places in the capital as from the coastal extremities. There was a thick, cold rain, blowing sideways, which laughed at our umbrellas. There was a long walk, down one of those suburban arteries where greasy water pools in the gutters and pavements are so narrow they feel like an afterthought.

I did all this for salad. But oh, what salad. I know in theory that salad can be a marvellous thing just as I know that, in theory, it can be sunny in Wales and sometimes Mrs Brown's Boys is funny. But understanding a theory is very different to experiencing it. Sure, I have a couple of salads I like to make. There is a combination of new potatoes with lots of salted anchovy, spring onions and a Dijon vinaigrette. There is a pepper salad which demands vast amounts of furious slicing until your arm aches and you start to fantasise about roasting lumps of pig.

But I have never thought of these as recipes, with underlying principles that demand knowledge and wit. I have always slipped them into the column headed "assemblage" or, even more dismissively, "augmented shopping". For me, making a salad has always been the thing you do after you've done the cooking. Then I dragged my sorry arse to Muswell Hill, met the salads made by Chris Kitch and understood that I was wrong.

Then again, Australian-born Kitch knows his way around a kitchen. After working for Gordon Ramsay on Royal Hospital Road he moved into grand hotels both here and abroad. At the Dorchester he had 200 cooks beneath him; at the Mayfair he ran the whole operation. Not that you would necessarily guess from his deli. It looks like a late addition; an extension to a house on a decidedly residential street. Milk crates pile up outside. Inside there are baby buggies. There are bare-brick walls and white walls.

But at the front there is the undulating curve of reconditioned butcher's blocks, one of which is used for the display at the front of the shop. That's the first clue. As an exercise in retail, in food as glitter-strewn cleavage, they really don't come much better. There is height and volume and colour and blush. You stand before it and sigh, for you know this food, this shameless, sensory largesse, will make you feel very good about yourself.

At lunchtime – it currently closes at 6pm and is unlicensed – there are a couple of main dishes. Today there is a whole salmon, roasted over Chinese tea. It is smoky and soft and properly seasoned, and does that miraculous thing of holding together until nudged with a fork. There is also a picture-pretty beef lasagne made with the salty hit of feta and the earthier funk of proper cheddar and cherry tomatoes. A portion of these with two salads is £12.50. Two salads alone are £6.50, three salads £8.50. Lunch here will not make you poor. Somehow we contrive to order everything. I tell my companion I am doing this for work purposes. We both know this is an excuse.

 

What defines these salads is the attention to detail. There is a mixture of three beans with roasted and shredded onions and peppers and something else which at first I identify as cumin. It isn't. It's cinnamon. Would you put cinnamon into a salad dressing? No, you wouldn't. And that's the point. Kitch does things to salads that you would never think of doing at home.

A potato salad, with sliced gherkins and caramelised onions, appears to have been made with grain mustard, but has uncommon depth of flavour. Kitch, who arrives in the deli with his two-year-old daughter slumped asleep on his shoulder, explains eagerly: there are three mustards. First he roasts the mustard seeds, and then he mixes that with Dijon and then… but by now I am lost in the pleasures of lunch.

Slices of ripe avocado are served skin-on, so they cannot turn to mush, with the crunch of fresh almonds. There is a brisk pick-me-up salad of apple, fennel and cranberries with quinoa which feels less like a middle-class affectation and more like a textural masterstroke. Even something as straightforward as beetroot has a vivid citrus zest. Kitch macerates and marinades. His descriptions make salads sound more like stews than raw things piled on stoneware. Is everything equally good? No. How could it be? There is a mess of whole green beans, and another of courgettes with more grain, both of which are a little too rigid to be quite as enjoyable as the others. But it's all relative.

A portion of their breads brings one made with the malt and bitterness of Guinness and the stink of blue cheese. There is another with fennel seeds, lemon and jasmine which tastes promisingly of Spring.

And then on to the cakes which pout at you from the butcher's block. For the sake of balance, both an apple cake and a pear cake are a little dry. I have to find something to niggle at. The same cannot be said for coffee and caramel with a little buttercream icing and a dribble of syrup. There is a chocolate gâteau with a ganache worthy of being licked straight off the plate. And then there is a flourless chocolate cake, which is all crisp shell and dark, dark squidge. We have eaten a lot. We find a way to finish it.

 

Finally, an understated touch of genius: we are brought a glass tumbler of hot water. Alongside is a wooden dish containing sliced oranges and lemons, thick wedges of fresh ginger and crushed stalks of lemongrass. There is a bowl of fennel seeds and a whole star anise and a saucer of honey. Oh, and a tea bag. You can refill the glass as many times as you like, all for £2.50. I pile in ginger and lemon and honey and a few other things and sit feeling warm and cared for.

It would be easy to mistake Chriskitch for a little neighbourhood deli. And, of course, it is that. But there is so much more going on here. Kitch hopes to get a licence and open a few evenings a week. There will be tasting menus. For now, come for the glorious salads. And if you're surprised to see me write that, it's nothing compared to how I'm feeling.

GILES COREN - The Times - January 2014

(Chriskitch Muswell Hill)

 

 

Another place you might want to try is Chriskitch, an unassuming cafe next to a school in Muswell Hill.  It's just a cakes-in-the-window, all-day deli with a couple of mains on offer at lunchtime, but the Australian cook, Christian Honor, is a nailed-on culinary genius who has sous-cheffed at Al Maraha in the Burj Al Arab, and his £20 meze breakfast is a thing of wonder.  When I went, it involved a red glass cake stand, drizzled with honey and covered in almonds, dates and labneh; three homemade breads, butter and two soft cheeses; a bored-out pumpkin containing a pumpkin salad and a glass of pumpkin veloute; a green bean salad; two kinds of bean dip; some chicken legs in a rich, fruity glaze; and six slices of cake including lemon drizzle, pear, tiramisu and chocolate.  All this he does on one ring in a kitchen out the back with nothing much in it apart from a broken-down Vespa in the middle of the floor. It is the most eccentric, surprising, rewarding small local restaurant I have encountered in year.

 

 

“In and out! Simply the best!” - 24th September 2014

(Chriskitch Muswell Hill)

 

Whether you eat in or out or ask Chris to cater and deliver elsewhere (ordered in advance of course) he comes up trumps!! He had a tall order to supply a group of 7 with vegetarian, gluten and wheat free, two salads and bread for three days. Not only did he manage this but he also included gluten free and veggie cake each day plus corn bread each day, as well as beer bread (on one occasion) plus additional organic pears (freshly picked from his tree)! The delivery was great and right next to the room we were situated in.The venue was not easy to find. Quantities were generous and sooo tasty - he supplied not only boxes and wooden forks for us to use for eating with but also presented the food beautifully on several huge plates from which we served ourselves. He collected each day on delivering the following day's food! He made such things as parsnips with cherryies and aubergine dishes and squash and really the variation was so much I can't remember all that he made but to say it was FAB! Well done Chris… Let's hope you are here to stay! Best to the family as they too were great! BIG THANK YOU. P.S. We are a group of nutrition specialists!

ALICJA JAKEWAY - we-heart.com - 17th February 2017

(Chriskitch Hoxton)

 

Small wonder: chef-owner delivers big on his promise of punchy flavours from a compact Hoxton kitchen...

London’s Shoreditch is a noisy place. Astir with bars; offices; studios; hotels; and restaurants, the neighbourhood is a self-contained ecosystem. Long gentrified beyond its emerging artists and creative waifs and strays, the ‘hood that Nathan Barley defined is now all about technology, design, finance … about serious business. And serious business needs feeding. The choices are plentiful — from small independents to award-winning heavies such as TramshedThe Clove Club and Dishoom. How then, does a chef — who for the past four years has been running an 18-cover café in north London’s Muswell Hill — raise his head above the crowd?

On a peaceful pedestrian square called Hoxton Market, just seconds from all sorts of bustle, is Chriskitch Hoxton; a family-run restaurant owned by chef Christian Honor. Having spent his entire career working internationally — Australia; Europe; the Middle East; Africa; and South East Asia — it’s safe to say Chris has been around the block. His illustrious career has seen him work with culinary greats; including Gordon Ramsey, David Nicolas, Chris Janson, and Henry Brosi — as well as overseeing 180 chefs at the Oberoi Hotels chain. Immersing himself in different culinary cultures has evolved his knowledge, repertoire, and style.

Accolades aside, Honor is humble and the restaurant is very much the family run operation. His wife Bibi was hands-on in the design of the space; she runs it day-to-day, too. There’s plenty to stimulate the eye, an abundance of untreated wood; an amber back-lit wall; poured concrete floor; potato starch composite tables; racing car interior style sofas; handmade clay and ceramic crockery, and potted succulents and herbs everywhere. Chriskitch looks good. It is considered, and has a substance that sees it transcend trends.

Each dining experience starts with complimentary pre-starters delivered on natural wood, stone and quartz. Presentation is highly sensory, with herbs wrapped in seaweed, cheddar crisp lollipops, leaf ‘pizza’ and seaweed tempura. Abundant in textures, flavours and aromas, Chris insists he is not simply showing off his skills: ‘I’m trying to give diners a great experience, value for money, give them something unique so they want to return.’

Champagne-poached oysters with truffle and chive scrambled eggs follow, sumptuous feelings appear and we’re impressed with the nods to Japanese and European cuisine. The four of us dive into a variety of dishes, including BBQ venison that is smokey-black on the outside and vivid pink on the inside, served with roasted endive, pomegranate, blue cheese and sumac dressing. The broccoli and green pea mousse with goat’s cheese, soft poached egg and durum crisp bread is delicate yet substantial, with green and creamy flavours that are perfectly balanced.

 

A Cedar plank-roasted mackerel with pickled onions, balsamic baby beetroot, creamed horseradish and honey is a must; as is the blackened miso salmon with white balsamic and honey dressing — sweet and buoyant and utterly moreish. Each dish here is big on flavour, from fiery to sweet to spicy then sour; each ingredient still identifiable, never overshadowed. So how does he strike a balance between the culinary and cultural influences? ‘It comes from years of developing my palate, understanding different cultures and having the belief to say these foods do go together; and it’s done with a true responsibility. It’s a discipline of what not to put on the plate as well.’

Other aspects are worth a mention: water is naturally-filtered using charcoal, which aids purification and adds to the visual experience, and the wine list offers great organic and biodynamic wines for under £30, which we found most agreeable. When asked why the low mark-up, Honor responds, ‘it just seems a nice fit, don’t get me wrong, our wines aren’t anything over the top. I have a very good relationship with Jim Barry [Australian wine producer], I know Olivia, Jim’s daughter. Coming from Australia, I’ve been to the wineries, so I know them. As for the mark up; we don’t believe in daylight robbery.’

Humble, enthusiastic and extremely talented, Honor and his team have got a lot right at Chriskitch. It’s a ‘big flavours, small kitchen’ concept with Chris at the forefront. Overall it is a highly creative sensory experience — from the décor to the food on our plate, discovering each dish in a sociable and laid-back atmosphere is a real treat.

 

JAY RAYNER - The Observer - 14th August 2016

(Chriskitch Hoxton)

The first time I went to one of chef Christian Honor’s restaurants it was for salad. It says much about those salads that the journey, a quest to match anything Frodo Baggins ever embarked upon, did not feel wasted. It takes guts and an encyclopaedic knowledge of London’s public transport system to travel from Brixton to Muswell Hill. In the rain. There was no end to my suffering. And yet, for his three-bean salad with a dressing spun through with the soft, earthy breath of cinnamon, or his avocado and almonds, it was worth it.

The original Chriskitch – it’s short for kitchen, obviously, but being a shmuck I assumed it was his surname – is a deli, with grand ambitions. It’s a resting place during the day for over-accessorised buggies, and people in need of therapeutic cake. (Less a Venn diagram than just one big circle encompassing both groups). Honor published a well-received cook book and made a noise with his big, chunky salads and his ways with roasted salmon. Now he has opened a second restaurant.

It’s in London’s Hoxton, which is much easier for me to reach, but I approached it with greater trepidation. Yes, during the day the menu is familiar. There are hearty brunch dishes: fried eggs with tamarind sauce or a corn kernel salad with baby herbs and Polish cured bacon. It’s the kind of food for which you would willingly incur a hangover.

By night it is something entirely other. It becomes a grown-up restaurant with ambition and flash and a wood-fired grill, on display behind glass. In reality this is less of a change for Honor than it might at first seem. In a previous life he ran the brigade at the Dorchester Hotel. He was completely fluent in the formal bob and curtsy of complex dishes brought together on the line. The food he is serving here is unlikely to be given room at the Dorchester. It is too robust for them, and Asian-accented with outbreaks of quinoa. But there is no doubting the gleam and seriousness of the cooking. The room echoes that. It is all polished concrete floors and work surfaces, greyed-out wood panelling and glass. Oh, the bill for Windowlene.

That is echoed in the crockery. I don’t generally mention my companions, because they are only there to laugh at my jokes and so that I can order more food. I don’t care what they think; I’m the one who has to write the column. But as I was joined by the potter Grayson Perry and his psychotherapist wife Philippa it’s worth recording their views on the plates. “Oooh vitrified,” says Philippa, her mouth puckering in a starfish of distaste. Grayson nods. He tells me that it’s been fired at a high temperature so doesn’t need a glaze. “Nasty rough surface,” Philippa says. She has a point. Many of the plates here are like sandpaper. Others have been hand-shaped and glazed, as if formed with big, fat thumbs. Philippa isn’t too keen on those either. Mind you, I say, at least the food’s not being served on a slate or in a galvanised dustbin. Give thanks for such things.

The food on those plates begins with a salad of coconut, coriander leaf and twice-cooked quinoa. The latter pops up regularly, in a crisped, crunchy form for texture. The mirin dressing is light and brisk. Discs of baked parmesan on sticks, with the back hit of chilli, are savoury lollipops for adults. Their buttery cornbread and sourdough comes with thick blocks of more salty butter the colour of a Devon beach, and smooth, insistent goat’s cheese.

Starters roam far and wide. Ravioli of minced and spiced barbecued duck, under an Asiatic dressing, takes on a Vietnamese aspect courtesy of a leaf fall of fresh green herbs, which is heavy on the rough kick of mint – the pub brawler of the herb world. Diced and dressed cubes of de-seeded tomato are formed into a disc as if mimicking steak tartare, under sticks of shaved asparagus. There’s a sour cream dressing with high notes of sherry vinegar. More crisped quinoa adds crunch, as if it was a drift of toasted breadcrumbs.

But the swoon-worthy moment comes with rock oyster shells filled with buttery scrambled eggs, shifted out of the column headed “comfort food” by the addition of chives. A single iodine-rich champagne-poached oyster perches on top with a dollop of caviar, the oils starting to run from the heat. It is a stupidly luxurious three spoonfuls, but worth every penny of the £4.75 each. Two of those and anybody with taste, greed and good sense will be grinning.

I am as prone to food envy as the next over-fed, big-haired, jazz- handed fop. It says much for the mains that, watching Honor plating them up, I couldn’t decide which I wanted for myself: the belly pork with the wobble of slow-cooked egg; the crisped-skinned salmon with the endive tart; the “blackened” cylinder of lamb, flames still flickering around it as if it was lifted off the grill and on to the plate.

It’s a reminder of the point of open kitchens: when the food is worth it, the view helps build anticipation, which these dishes then delivered on. The bitterness of the endive in that puff-pastry tart beneath the salmon was tempered by both sticky, sweet caramelisation and the salty hit of anchovy; the jellified egg yolk sent the pork on its way. But the lamb won the day. It was intense and earthy, a bash of the brambled hillside brought to Hoxton.

The desserts were simple headlines – a chocolate fondant, a crème brûlée, a poached pear – with lots of interest in the text below: the bijou jam tart beneath the cylinder of crème brûlée, the sweetened puff pastry collar around the neck of the pear. But what summed up this meal was the extraordinary texture of that pear, the spoon slicing through without any resistance, as though it had become a warm mousse of itself. And that’s the point. He may have made his name with expertly executed salad bars and deli items, but Chris Honor is a serious cook, with ladlefuls of technique and good taste. Hence the prices: £10 a starter, £20 a main. Judge those numbers by the detail on the plate.

Afterwards Grayson Perry, being well dragged up, sent me a thank-you note. “Good food too,” he said, “Not that you want my opinion.” He was right, on both counts.

BRIDGET GALTON - Islington Gazette - 10th August 2016

(Chriskitch Hoxton)

 

Locals in Muswell Hill have long adored the bold flavours, fabulous salads and attention to detail served up by Chris Honor at his tiny cafe Chriskitch.

The Bounds Green resident’s food has been favourably reviewed by both Giles Coren and Jay Rayner and inspired a cook book, (Big Flavours From a Small Kitchen.)

But licensing difficulties and East London’s relentless energy perhaps inevitably meant the Australian’s entry onto the evening restaurant scene would be in Shoreditch.

Located just round the corner from Old Street in Hoxton Market - a square with an almost French feel to it - Chriskitch Shoreditch has a nice ring to it.

Visiting a month after opening the decor is pure Hoxton; industrial concrete floor and exposed pipes, softened by leather seats and pale wood doors.

The clean open design includes a great view of the mastery going on in the kitchen.

Amuses bouches include a kind of lollipop parmesan cracker, (good) deconstructed crispy pancakes of basil seeds encased in feathery light rice parcels, and a bright white truffle powder that looks like something Hoxtonites stuff up their noses on a Saturday night.

This was followed by a trio of breads with flavours including beer and blue cheese alongside a chilli cheese cornbread.

My tuna tartare a complex yet complementary circle of perfectly even fish chunks, avocado, cucumber, softened radish chives and caviar lifted with a citrus dressing and fresh coriander.

My kitchen trained companion was deeply impressed by her deep green swirl of pea mousse and egg with broccoli and goat’s cheese and rye crisps.

Too often the most modestly priced wine on the menu is just so so.

But from a short list, our French white Rousanne was so good I found myself noting down the producer.

Mains came with the same care and thought. Bacon and egg was an oblong of slow cooked pork belly with texture from crunchy quinoa, and a melting pomme fondant and softly cooked egg with asparagus, slices of apple and mushrooms was perfectly judged.

My friend’s first taste of her smoked blackened lamb with feta date chutney was greeted with a blissful look. I got lucky with another perfect pud, a rich, oozing chocolate fondant. But really this is very fine dining which deserves a huge fan base.

 

KASSIE BARKER - Style Devoured - 22nd July 2016

(Chriskitch Hoxton)

It's no secret that I have come to love east London - perhaps borderline rivaling my love for SW London. As a self-confessed foodie, it's not a surprise that I spend a lot of time here - restaurants are at every turn, and they're not typical chain ones either. 

Individual places are what makes east London the great place it has become, and ChrisKitch is no exception to this. Christian Honor - a renowned chef, yet one of the most down-to-earth people I have ever met - is the curator behind the food...and curate he does. After setting up a cafe in Muswell Hill, Chris has decided to set-up a restaurant in Hoxton Market. Hoxton Market is perhaps best known for well-established places like Meat Mission, however with treats like ChrisKitch coming along it's no surprise that it's becoming a shared territory. 

I headed to ChrisKitch on a work basis, but it's simply too good for me to confine the review to one platform. If you'd like to read that version, please do so here. We headed there on a Saturday evening, not long after the launch, for around 7.30pm. Classic me, running a little late, after having a minor (massive) wardrobe malfunction whilst throwing the content around my room. Nonetheless when we arrived, at around 7.45pm, they were incredibly welcoming. 

The decor is one absolutely noteworthy thing; exposed brick walls, dark wood chairs adorned with black leather and sleek glass tables. It's all very chic, with hints of a high-brow restaurant shining through. I love going to exceptional places, but I am far more at home at low-key places. ChrisKitch, somehow, manages to combine both of these factors. An incredible well-done interior, with the laid back vibe which is hard not to notice.

We are seated - our drinks orders taken. I love wine, but I'm definitely not an expert. I ask for a recommendation, ‘Jim Barry The Cover Drive 2012’ – a Cabernet Sauvignon originating from Australia - is recommended. It was nice and full-bodied – yet sweetened by “ripe blackberry fruit”. The wine has become a favourite of mine since, and that evening instead of switching wines per course we stuck to this particular one. 

Whilst waiting we are presented with a series of entrees; kale wrapped and combined with a series of herbs and ‘lollipops’ which are cheese biscuits on sticks. The kale was delicious – yet incomprehensible. The common theme throughout the night would be asking the question, “what does it taste like?” followed by, “I literally cannot explain it”. The flavours were like nothing I have had before in my life.


After a while making up our minds we finally decided; my friend opted for the Tuna tartare with avocado, chives, chilli and caviar, whilst I went for the charcoal-grilled marinated chicken with lemon, black pepper and parsley. In-between the first course coming, Chris came over to introduce himself. I was so incredible taken aback by his modesty. Never have I met a chef so incredibly passionate about food, whilst also being so happy and grateful for being able to do what he loves. He is a true credit to the culinary world - and I'd go back purely to enjoy seeing someone who makes cooking a true form of art.

When our starters arrive it’s immediately clear that presentation of the food is important at ChrisKitch. It’s truly something special with some incredible colours going on - instagram, eat your heart out. The tuna tartare, which I tried, is incredibly fresh bringing all of the flavours together to create a truly delightful starter. It’s the perfect way to start a meal when opting for a slightly heavier main. As someone who doesn't usually like raw tuna, this blew me away. The charcoal-grilled chicken is delicious and the flavour reminds me of a home cooked meal – with a twist. There was an element of it I couldn’t quite put my finger on which took it from an average dish to an exceptional one.

For mains we ordered ‘Egg and bacon, slow cooked pork, roasted quinoa, mushrooms, asparagus and potato fondant’ whilst I went for the ‘Hay-smoke blackened lamb, feta, slow braised pearl barley, eggplant and date chutney’ once again on the recommendation purely because everything looked so exceptional I literally couldn't choose just one. The lamb was tender on the inside (it literally broke apart) whilst the outside was blackened, as promised, and gave a slightly smoky taste. The feta added another layer of flavour – especially with the date chutney - which you wouldn't typically pair. Chris manages to bring flavours together you'd often turn your nose up if they were paired. The slow-cooked pork was incredible; cooked to perfect, complemented with the potato fondant and asparagus. It's been around three-weeks since I visited, and I am still craving this particular dish on a near daily basis.

 

Dessert wasn't optional; we couldn't resist despite being painfully full. It wasn't long before the crème brulee and chocolate fondant were en-route. The crème brulee was placed on top of a jam-tart style base and drizzled in, what I presume, to be a lemon dressing with raspberries scattered on top. It was weird, different but incredible. Quite possibly the best way to finish an already exceptional meal. The chocolate fondant was delicious; both agreeing possibly one of the best chocolate based desserts we've had. A little heavy after red meat - but between two it's perfect.

 

I can, hand-on-my-heart, say this has topped my favourite restaurant list in London. It's a real culinary experience and a must for any self-confessed foodie. It's not expensive; it's mid-range for Michelin star quality food. 

 

I want to add that I cannot think of a more deserving person to have your custom than Chris; I truly was so impressed with how lovely he was, whilst also being mindblown by his food. ChrisKitch, I salute you. Go forth and conquer the culinary world, you deserve it.

VICTORIA SEABROOK - Hackney Citizen - 21st July 2016

(Chriskitch Hoxton)

Chriskitch, Hoxton, restaurant review – ‘weird and wonderful delights’

A well-travelled chef is serving up some surprising combinations of food at new Hoxton restaurant Chriskitch. 

You are not always sure of what you are eating in Chriskitch, a new restaurant tucked behind Hoxton Square, but as I learnt, it pays to put your trust in the chef.  Surprising combinations are the order of the day here (BBQ duck ravioli and quinoa popsicle anyone?) all of which inspired by the worldly travels of the restaurant’s chef Chris Honor.

The starter of champagne-poached oyster, truffle oil, caviar and scrambled eggs struck me as something a child would dream up, asked what grown-ups eat.  But there is nothing childish about this starter, which bursts with rich truffle and sea flavours. It is beautifully presented – just like everything else on the menu – in an oyster shell propped up by sorbet, on a bed of ornamental seaweed.  Other weird and wonderful delights pop up around the starters – cheese popsicles, crisped rye bread… even powdered white truffle on a teaspoon to cleanse the palate.  It is the juicy kale rolls that steal the warm-up show, however, which were much more lively than they sound, bursting with south east Asian flavours of basil seeds and fresh herbs. These complimentary bites are welcome in a menu that veers towards the pricey, with mains averaging at around £19.

 

And with the mains come flavours of the Middle East: the signature blackened lamb dish is enclosed in succulent aubergine strips, topped with salty feta and with the sweet hint of date chutney.  Moving on to Mediterranean climes is the salmon: crispy skin, succulent and flaking apart underneath. Somehow this dish smacks of the sea even more than expected, perhaps due to deep notes of anchovy. Underneath is bone marrow and a bacon and endive tart – though I’m not sure exactly which part is which. What I can vouch for, though, is its deliciousness.

For dessert we forego the recommended chocolate pudding, opting instead for the picture-pretty crème brûlée. It combines all the great things about a crème brûlée – a rich and smooth vanilla flavour with a crispy top – yet is even more delectable thanks to the fresh fruit flavours of thin candied lemon slices and fresh raspberries.  A poached pear poked through a mysterious round pastry crisp, served with a smear of salted caramel sauce, vanilla cream and ‘activated’ walnuts – which, yes, really did taste nuttier than usual.  At Chriskitch you pay more than your usual Hackney joint, but the menu takes you far beyond this borough.

KASSIE BARKER-JONES - www.keatons.com - 30th June 2016

(Chriskitch Hoxton)

Hoxton Market is perhaps one of the ‘hippest’ places in London – and rightly so. We recently ventured there to visit newly opened,ChrisKitch.

We arrived at ChrisKitch on a Saturday evening – characteristically a little late yet still greeted warmly by the members of staff at ChrisKitch.

I am immediately taken aback by the trendy interiors; which I am later told are not finished despite the fact they look very chic. The walls are stripped back to the brick work with the ventilation visible – a look I personally love – whilst the tables are glass with dark wood detailing, with exceptionally comfortable leather seating. It is urban, funky and remarkably laid back.

In the far corner we see Chris Honor with his young daughter sat up on the countertop – a heart-warming sight. Chris Honor is the mastermind behind the food at ChrisKitch.

Chris and his wife Bibi – a dynamic duo – opened their first ChrisKitch in Muswell Hill, North London – a café serving up creative salads, coffees and “cool food”. The café has received praise from national newspapers crediting Chris on his ability to mix flavours. As a self-confessed foodie, I couldn’t have been more excited to try their newly opened Hoxton restaurant.

Chris is a renowned top-flight chef with some impressive credentials which can make for an intimidating review but Chris immediately puts me at ease with his happy, humble and incredibly passionate persona.

I knew that the food would be incredible based purely on Chris’ passion for food, his ability to get excited about a single flavour.

With the menu in hand, we peruse what’s on offer. Whilst waiting we are presented with a series of entrees; kale wrapped and combined with a series of herbs and ‘lollipops’ which are cheese biscuits on sticks.

The kale was delicious – yet incomprehensible. The flavours were like nothing I have eaten before.

My friend opted for the Tuna tartare with avocado, chives, chilli and caviar, whilst I went for the charcoal-grilled marinated chicken with lemon, black pepper and parsley.

We asked for a recommendation on wine, recommended was a glass of ‘Jim Barry The Cover Drive 2012’ – a Cabernet Sauvignon originating from Australia. It was nice and full-bodied sweetened by “ripe blackberry fruit”. A brilliant recommendation, and both of us stuck to the one wine all evening.

Our starters promptly arrived – it’s immediately clear that presentation of the food is paramount at ChrisKitch. It’s nothing short of a spectacle.

My friends’ tuna tartare, which I tried, is incredibly fresh bringing all of the flavours together to create a truly delightful starter.

My charcoal-grilled chicken is delicious and the flavour reminds me of a home cooked meal – with a twist. There was an element of it I couldn’t quite put my finger on which took it from an average dish to an exceptional one.

For mains my friend had ordered ‘Egg and bacon, slow cooked pork, roasted quinoa, mushrooms, asparagus and potato fondant’ whilst I went for the ‘Hay-smoke blackened lamb, feta, slow braised pearl barley, eggplant and date chutney’ once again on a recommendation.

The wait in between courses was minimal – despite the restaurant filling up quickly – and with the open-plan dining room you are able to see Chris truly work his magic. This is a feature I loved – it made the experience even better to see the meal unfold in front of us.

The hay-smoked blackened lamb was presented in front of me – once again with impeccable presentation, my friends’ slow-cooked pork looked equally impressive.

The lamb was incredibly tender inside (it just fell apart) whilst the outside was blackened, as promised, and gave a slightly smoky taste. The feta with the date chutney added another layer of flavours. The combination of all of the flavours was, once again, divine.

Once again trying my friends’ food – the slow-cooked pork – I was completely blown away. The pork was delicious and cooked to perfection, it was complemented by the potato fondant and asparagus. If the poached egg in their main is a way to judge their brunch menu – I’ll hazard a guess it’s pretty incredible.

The finale; dessert and what a way to finish. I opted for the vanilla crème brûlée   whilst my friend choose the Chocolate soft centre pudding. I was told that I would have to steal a bite of the chocolate dessert because it really was something special!

The crème brûlée was placed on top of a jam-tart style base and drizzled with a lemon dressing with raspberries scattered on top. It was delicious; light, refreshing and sweet.

I did sample the chocolate soft centre pudding which resembled a Yorkshire pudding from the outside. Much like the standard of the rest of the food, this didn’t fail to impress. It was delicious and moreish.

ChrisKitch is a real culinary treat. Ingredients and flavours you would never expect to have together, but somehow Chris Honor makes it work.

The food was on-par with some Michelin star restaurants; fine dining in a completely relaxed environment.

It’s not too expensive for the quality of the food, in fact I consider it a bargain.

I highly recommend to all.

 

ISABELLE CASTRO - www.9fi5th.com - 22nd June 2016

(Chriskitch Hoxton)

Tucked away in Hoxton Market lies Chriskitch Hoxton, a hidden diamond in the rough brought to East London by Chris Honor. After an amazing meal, we met the man behind the magic.

Chris’s passion for food can be seen in every aspect of his beautiful cuisine. After an illustrious career spanning the kitchens of the Burj Al Arab to the Dorchester, he started Chriskitch with the vision to create dishes that excited all of the senses. “We feel food.” He explains, “Not just in your mouth, but you hear it as well as seeing and tasting….we are creating combinations that contrast in texture, in the purest way possible, and at reasonable prices.”

The food is certainly unique in its composition. The signature dish, a champagne-poached oyster with truffle and scrambled egg, arrives on a bed of salt. Accompanied by a glass of bubbly, the combination of flavours positively zing.

As Chris explains: “I want the experience of the food to be long lasting and memorable. I want guests to walk out and still be talking about their meal to their friends a week after they came in”

Every course is presented as to allow the food to speak for itself, with interiors that echo this philosophy. Reckon the classic stripped-back Shoreditch interior is getting old? Chriskitch has completely reinvented it. While the plates feature smoked oak and rough, shell-like ceramics, the table tops are made from potato starch, and the chairs from soft leather. “The design ethos of the space leaves the base raw and stripped back, with painted breeze block walls and concrete floors, yet the parts that you actually interact with always have that connection with food.” says Chris. The kitchen and his cooking process is also completely on show, meaning that this naked interaction is present from the moment you sit down, to the moment you leave.

A beautiful setting, with food that we are still raving about, Chriskitch is definitely one restaurant you definitely do not want to miss out on.

LOUISA WALTERS - Jewish News Online - 15th June 2016

(Chriskitch Hoxton)

I haven’t been so excited about a restaurant opening since McDonald’s came to the UK in 1974. Chriskitch Hoxton is the new, super-shiny, uber-cool outpost of the much-loved Chriskitch in Muswell Hill. I have been a fan of Chriskitch since inception and have trotted there for brunch, lunch, a cuppa and a slice of cake in all seasons, plus for cookery demos and, of course, to pick up my own copy of Chris’ much lauded cookery book, Big Flavours From A Small Kitchen.

Chris himself has a seriously refreshing approach to food – no faffing, no fiddling, throw it all together and mix up the (incredibly inventive) flavours. Think Jamie Oliver and Yotam Ottolenghi rolled into one, with flashes of brilliance that come from Chris’ training under Gordon Ramsay.


Unlike Muswell Hill, which is essentially a daytime hangout with dishes proudly displayed on a butcher’s block at the front, Hoxton is a full-blown table-service experience. The space is airy and bright, with lots of steel and glass and clever lighting, and Chris’ pride-and-joy Robata grill in full view.

The menu is mouth-watering. Cucumber and sesame seared salmon, raw tuna charcoal with pickle apple and basil, crispy smoked potato skins with truffle for starters. These give way to tuna tartare with date purée, blackened charcoal lamb in hay smoke, pan-roasted salmon with anchovy and endive tarte tatin, mushrooms with roasted veg and crispy bean curd, brown sugar and rosemary grilled chicken.

Desserts are a tough choice between caramelised banana with salted balsamic fudge, baked chocolate pudding, violet crumble poached pears (no one poaches pears like Chris!) and more. He has also brought his Australian background to bear on the wine list.

As well as the table-service restaurant, Chris has recreated the Muswell Hill café-style offering in a next-door unit, and Hoxton locals are already queueing out the door to try it.

 

 

BALDWIN HO - TownFish  - 20th June 2016

(Chriskitch Hoxton)

Fine dining in a family friendly environment at Chriskitch Hoxton

Many fine dining establishments are geared towards a more formal experience rather than offering a family friendly environment, Chris Honor has cleared spotted this gap in the market with his latest restaurant, Chriskitch Hoxton. Chris Honor has an abundance of experience working at top culinary establishments around the world; in the UK, he has worked at Gordon Ramsey at Royal Hospital Road and also worked at the Dorchester where he had a team of over 200 chefs. Apart from that he has worked in 5 different continents and that really shines through when you see the exotic nature of the ingredients and cooking techniques that he uses.

The restaurant is designed with a clean and elegant feel: black leather chairs, glass tables, plenty of natural sunlight from the glass frontage and an open kitchen where you almost feel like every table is a chef’s table.

Chris has come up with a delectable menu, where you conceivably want to order every single dish off the menu. The menu is divided into canapés, starters, mains and desserts. We started off with a very fresh tasting tuna tartare which was matched with avocado, chives, chilli and caviar. You will notice very soon, that each plate that is served is also a piece of artwork rather than just food for digesting. The importance of presentation has no doubt been impressed upon him through his many stints at top hotel restaurants around the world.

I am not always a fan of vegetarian dishes, they are either not filling enough, lacking in flavour or texture. However, the mushroom broth is as exciting a vegetarian option as you will ever see in most restaurants. It is paired with vegetable salad, Korean rice and crunchy bean curd skin. The taste of the mushrooms are strong in the broth, there is textural variety in the chewiness of the Korean rice and the crunchiness of the bean curd skin.  The slow-cooked pork jowl is appropriately decadent with the right ratio of meat to fat. Although it does come with an appropriate dose of roasted quinoa, asparagus and mushrooms.

All the dishes are a few pounds higher than what you would expect normally; however they need to understand you don’t go to Chriskitch expecting normality. It is a culinary journey with Chris through all the experiences he has gathered working in different continents.

 

 

GRACE DENT - Evening Standard - 16th June 2016

(Chriskitch Hoxton)

It is evident that chef Chris Kitch, of Gordon Ramsay at Royal Hospital Road and Dorchester pedigree, is skilful and imaginative behind the stoves. This is why the buggy-brigade, resting actors and the cake-addicted flock to Kitch’s north London spot for warm fresh muffins. 

And at his new Hoxton residence, there is food one can fixate on too. A ‘canapé’ jar full of potato skins on a smokey slick of mustard mayo laced with white truffle and thyme powder has haunted my greedy dreams ever since. The arch smokiness. The satisfying carb rush. 

The fresh, artisan bread on offer at Chriskitch is also the stuff of dreams: Guinness and blue cheese, red onion and garlic and a chilli cheese corn bread, accompanied by three genres of butter. Who needs that? Me, I need that. It was the sort of technically unnecessary bread basket that leads to a flurry of scooping, slicing and chomping, then eight days later, a spurious claim that the bottom on my jeans was clearly made of sub-standard perishable material.  An end-of-evening chocolate pudding with melting innards was faultless. 

Chriskitch’s menu is ever-changing, so if this was a typical outpouring of its imagination, I feel sure there’s even more culinary delight up its sleeve. 

SADIE WHITELOCKS - www.itsrudetostare.com - 15th June 2016

(Chriskitch Hoxton)

If you go down to Hoxton today you’re in for a big surprise. For hidden away from the main thoroughfare of bustling bars and eateries is a new gem of a restaurant serving up an array of playful dishes that will get your tastebuds tingling.

Chriskitch Hoxton is the second restaurant from Christian Honor, a chef who worked in some of the most prestigious kitchens in the world, from the 5 star Oberoi hotel in Egypt, to Gordon Ramsay in London and The Dorchester.  The Sydney-born cook set up his first restaurant in London’s Muswell Hill in 2013 but his latest venture really steps the game up a level.  Walking into Chriskitch Hoxton I was immediately struck by a science lab-feel, with the chefs seen intently playing with some quirky looking apparatus in the open plan kitchen. The bare concrete walls and flooring add an injection of New York-cool, with minimalist pieces of furniture completing the clean aesthetic.  Taking a table close to the kitchen so we could catch a glimpse of the action we had a peek at the menu. Chriskitch Hoxton’s menu changes daily, depending on seasonal ingredients that are available.

The menu is fairly concise but extremely playful, with some imaginative dishes and a whole course of ‘canapés’, instead of  the usual tapas / appetiser section.  Many of the dishes also reflect Chris’ global travels, with Asian essences clearly visible; a sprinkle of sesame seeds here, a dabbing of soy sauce there and a tower of tropical amaranth leaves to top it off.  We started off with one thing that you must order. A baked oyster with scrambled eggs, champagne and a generous dollop of caviar. The canapé starter – which comes in at a reasonable £3.50 – was absolutely divine and something I’d definitely never seen on a menu before.

‘The truffle oyster’s been a best seller, people really love them,’ Chris explained, as we swiftly polished off the contents of our mollusc shells. On the side we grazed on a helping of crispy potato skins, dusted with a mouthwatering truffle and thyme powder.

Adding to the biology lab feel, the swanky fries came served in a kilner clip top jar infused with blast of wood smoke, which billowed out as we opened it.

Next up, as my fellow diner was vegetarian, we opted for a fresh salad. Chris tasked us with guessing the ingredients. We did pretty well with most of the elements but the swamp weed left us stumped. Chris told us that he tries to source as much as he can locally, so for the salad dish he’d used some swamp weed dredged up from the local canal.  Moving to the main course, I opted for a slow-cooked pork jowl, while my friend Clare tucked into a medley of seasonal vegetables.

 

May I add that every dish at Chriskitch Hoxton is presented like a neat work of art. Beautiful handcrafted crockery from Poland – where Chris’ wife BiBi is from – act as canvases for the edible sculptures.  Back to the pork jowl… like the truffle oyster, this is a must try! The tender meat frayed at the touch of my knife with the crispy top making for good contrast in texture. A soft poached egg and stack of polenta finished off the decadent dish.

 

To wash it all down, we tried a couple of wines from the list, including a crisp glass of Veuve Clicquot, which worked wonderfully with the poached pear and caramel sauce dessert.

 

Asking Chris where his new venture sits in London’s ever-expanding restaurant scene, he replied: ‘So you know that middle market, casual but a bit of skill and craft, I think that’s where we fit.’

 

During the day another section of Chriskitch Hoxton opens up for brunch with a set menu on offer for around £20.

The great thing about Chris is that after 27 years as a chef, you can tell that he still loves what he does, and Chriskitch Hoxton has just ignited that flame further.  The father-of-two said before we made our way out of the restaurant’s sleek interior back into the hubbub of Hoxton: ‘I’ve never cooked so relaxed and enjoyed it so much. It’s really fun.’

Cheers to that!

Reviews

 Copyright - 2013 Chriskitch Ltd Restaurant Group