After a hugely successful five-month run at Platform 1 in Dulwich, bright young things Max De Nahlik and Nick Ross – the brains behind Oxalis – have brought their unique style of relaxed fine dining to Soho with a six-month residency at The Sun & 13 Cantons.
The pair became firm friends while working together firstly at Summer Tales and then launching the kitchen at Walter & Monty. Max is Leiths’ trained and champions modern British cooking. Whilst Nick has a classically French fine dining background and learnt his trade at Café Boulud, among others. With Oxalis, they have combined their love of seasonal British food and classic French technique, creating a style that is very much their own.
If you’re not familiar with The Sun & 13 it’s a hugely popular pub in the heart of Soho, the kind of place you have to seriously elbow your way to the front in order to get served. Luckily dinner is a whole lot more refined with a slick front of house team taking care of things. The atmospheric dining room is just the kind of place we want to tuck into a feast this winter, with its moody low candle light and dark leather booths.
The menu is designed to be shared with most dishes available in small or large portions. We wanted to try as much as possible so went ‘small’ (which in fact turned out to be rather generous). We began with three cubes of beef scrumpet (think slow cooked meat encased in a croquette cube) finished with a squidge of bright green parsley aioli. For balance we also tried the panisse (we had no idea what these were) but it turns out we’d ordered more cubes, this time made of chickpeas – similar to that of polenta – crisp on the outside and fluffy inside, and a great flavour carrier for the spicy harrisa it was served with.
After this we moved onto some more substantial mains. We loved the autumnal bowl of Jerusalem artichoke risotto – here they used barley instead of your traditional Arborio so it felt a little lighter and healthier, but still really comforting. The dainty tortellini had been delicately stuffed with squash and separated with stems of broccoli before being dusted with a little salty anchovy crumb.
Taking things up a notch on the rich(ter) scale was the grouse – served two ways (as a parfait and a breaded leg) on beef dripping toast, with shallot & cep miso puree.
Not quite wanting to leave the warm embrace of this pub, we finished the rest of our bottle of red and admired (before devouring) the perfect rectangle of cheesecake, topped with beautiful blobs of plum.
On Thursday and Friday nights Oxalis is closed for dinner, as the pub is very busy with Soho drinkers. However, fear not as there is a sumptuous list of specially devised Oxalis bar snacks, all perfect for soaking up that end of week excess. These include the likes of short rib poutine & roasted chili cauliflower – pub grub will never be the same again. Oxalis is closed on Sundays.
A five course £35 a head set menu is also available for those of you who are indecisive and with ample time on your hands.