Soho has to be one of my favourite places in London. It’s an energetic and risqué mix of bars, sex shops, and some of the most exciting restaurants in the capital. So when you’re hungry after work but you don’t know what you want, I guarantee that Soho won’t let you down for inspiration.
Within the wonderful weirdness that is Soho; Kingly Court in Carnaby holds a dizzying array of fantastic restaurants to choose from, and one place I’ve been dying to sink my teeth into for months now can be found on the ground floor; The Good Egg.
Middle Eastern dishes with a New York influence, this is yet another example of a street food vendor hitting the big time. At The Good Egg you can choose from a number of Tel Aviv street food-inspired snacks, dips and small plates. The bread selection, which is specifically there for dipping purposes, celebrates the Jewish delis of New York.
It may have only been a Tuesday but the choice of drinks to start with sounded so enticing, I felt obliged to order one. Despite the overwhelming popularity of neggronis, until this point, I had not understood the power of this drink. Plum shrub – which is a vinegar-based fruit syrup – was used as the mixer to gin and Campari, which was then topped up with fizz. The aroma that came off this cocktail – a mix of lemon, citrus from the campari and the sweet bouquet of cava – was absolutely heavenly and a perfect start to our meal.
Just below this list of intriguing sounding drinks, my eyes zoomed in on the snack of hogget merguez sausages. Rich, spicy, meaty sausages, merguez sausages are one of those must-have BBQ items. Well, they are on my list of essential BBQ items anyway. Older than lamb but younger than mutton, hogget – or even mutton for that matter – is rarely seen in restaurants or indeed even in butchers in this country, always losing out in favour of the young lambs. The reason for this? Simply, money. It costs more to raise a sheep to an age older than a lamb, and so these older meats are a rarity. While there is a mild difference in flavour between these three ages of sheep, in a merguez sausage, the combination of spices, chilli, beef, garlic and harissa render the sausage incredibly moreish but the hoggest completely under-championed.
One of my favourite parts of a meal these days can literally be the arrival of the bread and butter at the start of the meal. I wait with eager anticipation to see what sort of baked delight has been conjured up by the chefs and whether we’re going to get a butter that gets my blood rushing to all the right places. So, the next section of “Breads for Dipping” and “Dipping for Breads” sent my mind into overdrive. Honestly, I could have quite happily ordered the four breads and four dips and spent my evening munching my way through whipped feta, marinated aubergine and the classic hummus awarma. Disappointingly for me, we did not do this and instead ordered two breads and one dip to share. The most beautiful cornbread loaf was the first carbohydrate to arrive at the table. Drizzled in a glorious sticky concoction of honey and thyme, I resented splitting this tiny morsel between the two of us.
We also plumped for the laffa flatbread. A slightly thicker and chewier pita bread, these are often used as wraps as they are perfect for soaking up meat juices. A nod to the time of year and a certain seasonal ingredient, this flatbread was also smothered in a glorious wild garlic butter. Both breads were lovely and warm, having come straight out of the clay oven sat behind the bar at the back of the restaurant.
The one dip that we ordered from the menu was the labneh; a strained Greek yoghurt, sour in taste, was covered in pickled rhubarb – again, very seasonal – and a Nigella seed, herb and spice dukkah. A big plate of deliciousness for not a lot of bread, we should definitely have ordered the Israeli pita to mop up the last bits.
The last savoury dish chosen was the Jerusalem Mixed Grill. A plate piled high with chunks of chicken thigh, chicken hearts and chicken livers sat on a mound of tahini dip. We chose this dish above all the others because offal cuts can truly be the best parts of an animal to eat and yet we hardly ever see them around, mainly because we seem to be a nation of squeamish eaters. The chicken thighs were moist and succulent and the hearts had been flashed for just long enough on the plancha grill to have that crispy chicken skin-like quality. The livers, however, were a bit bitter suggesting that they had either been overcooked or not prepared properly, and the accompanying pickles and amba (a tangy pickled mango condiment, similar to a chutney) were very much needed to cut through this taste.
For one of the first times in a long time, we purposefully saved room to order not one, but two desserts. An American classic of pecan pie came topped with a lattice of pretzels and a side of burnt honey ice cream. I’ve been trying to work out where the pretzels fit into this dish, given that the origin of these baked goods seems to have nothing to do with the Middle East or Jewish delis in New York, but one mouthful of this sweet, nutty pie with that salty crunch of pretzel rendered me unable to care about the inspiration behind this dish.
This was also one of those days where the overwhelming desire for chocolate forced me into ordering the interestingly named chocolate bark. This turned out to be a broken up slab of milk chocolate covered with veins of white chocolate, topped with sour cherries and what I think were shavings of tahini. Chocolate, cherry and a salty, sesame aftertaste, what more could you want?
My long awaited trip to The Good Egg was no disappointment. I am a massive fan of Middle Eastern cuisine and have recently enjoyed fantastic meals from other similar restaurants like Delamina and Amber. For me, what made The Good Egg stand out from these other restaurants has to be two things: firstly, the prolific use of lesser-used meats such as hogget and offal on the menu, and secondly, that list of cocktails. I mean I am genuinely sat here now wondering what the Bone Marrow Old Fashioned and the Oyster Martini taste like. One day soon, I shall return here, or maybe even take a trip to their other site in Stoke Newington, and just order all the breads, all the dips, and several of the cocktails. I’ll probably then order another slice of the pretzel pecan pie, just to soak up the alcohol.