Joining the likes of Olia Hercules and Lee Westcott, Chef Jeremy Chan of Ikoyi recently hosted a unique dinner in collaboration with Our/London Vodka Distillery.
Part of the distillery’s ‘Dinner at Ours’ series – which continues with another event on Thursday 6th September, hosted by Sardine’s Alex Jackson – Jeremy Chan served a five-course menu in Hackney Downs. For these events, Our/London have teamed up with a selection of their favourite chefs, with each dinner intended to emulate the chefs’ personal interpretations of a relaxed Dinner party, inspired by the flavours and unique aromatics of the local vodka – produced, blended and hand-bottled in a micro-distillery beneath Hackney Downs train station. Each dish is served alongside an Our/London vodka cocktail, developed with in-house brand ambassador Fliss Grandsen. Setting the scene for Jeremy Chan’s dinner, the stylish arch space was sympathetically lit, bedecked with communal bench seating.
As for the menu, Jeremy Chan’s five-course offering featured dishes which showcased the cooking style his restaurant, Ikoyi, has become so renowned for. West African ingredients are championed throughout dishes which have a sharp fine dining edge: inspired by Jollof cuisine, yet not bound by geography. The first dish on the menu, for instance, was an egg cup of refreshing yellow gazpacho, made with corn and yellow peppers. Here, the faultless balance of piquancy and sweetness was offset by a drizzle of vivid green lovage-infused oil. This was served with a highball of fennel-infused vodka lashed with tonic water. Next, a mousse of tigernut aesthetically resembled a traffic collision featuring Barney the Dinosaur. Studded with slightly salted blueberries and lashed with smoked rapeseed oil, however, the light dish harboured another whack of intense, strategically-balanced, flavours.
A dish of sea trout featured two slivers of cured fish, simply served with a rocher of pungent uziza peppercorn tamed with sweet hibiscus, both contrasting the cleanness of the fish’s presence – garnished with a flavoursome red shisho leaf. This was served with an opinion dividing cocktail with flavours of Earl Grey tea and grapefruit: visually resembling a classic Old Fashioned, but with a vodka base.
With the impending arrival of the main course, I feared that the passage to the distillery may have been a bizarre gap in the space-time continuum, and that I’d haplessly wandered into 1976. After all, who dares to serve boneless chicken breast as a main course in this day and age? This version featured Cotswold White chicken, presumably cooked sous-vide then finished in a hot pan to endow the skin with texture and colour – remarkably cooked and modestly served with a pile of slightly sweet squash and sunflower seed leaves. This was washed down with a potent concoction of vodka, thyme and coconut.
Dessert starred an under ripe peach segment poached in lavender, crowned with a cloud of meringue made with grains of paradise (which tasted not unlike Sugar Puffs). The accompanying buttermilk foam seemed unnecessarily showy, though the innovative meringue showcased a final flourish of excellent technique and profound knowledge of ingredients. Dinner finished with an Our/Vodka course, highlighting a ceramic apparatus placed in the centre of the table, concealing Our/London vodka, chilled and infused with cold brew coffee and ginger; poured into ceramic shot glasses and embellished with a whisper of oil squeezed from orange rind. A captivating conclusion to an enjoyable dinner experience.
Tickets for the Alex Jackson’s ‘Dinner at Ours’ event on Thursday 6th September are priced at £50 (including four courses and paired Our/London vodka cocktails) and are available from Eventbrite.
Further information on Ikoyi can be found here.