Welcome back Joyce!! I’m not sure how easy it is to find intense “pork and shellfish inspired soul food” in London, but Traif offered something very American in its super potent and indulgent style of cooking.
So this was a really fun way to celebrate Joyce’s brief homecoming, with a lavishly flavorful parade of small plates — one that at first you’ll raise a brow over how small the portions are, but by the end, be holding your belly hoping you would’ve taken smaller bites at the onset.
Okay! So as not to leave you hanging, the photo above was one of the most memorable dishes of the night for me, a dessert that came at the end, but was so optically alluring that by the time I was done ogling at the plate, Cec, Tru and Jay had basically polished it off =) The cake is pistachio, and the ice cream arugula. There’s nothing subtle about the flavors, but why should they be if you’re already committed to the calories.
The fried egg with foie gras was another one of my favorites — again intense and heavy, so a bite or two will more than suffice. Jay liked the soft-shelled crabs, which I found a bit salty, but somehow still bursting with juice beneath all that batter. The other one that stood out to me was the fatty pork belly, creatively topped with fresh grapefruit and blackberries. Again, while small, taking down that whole sliver of pork would have been way too much. There’s a reason why these are meant to be shared.
The duck confit came out whole, but easily melts apart and is mouthwateringly juicy when taken with the plump veggies that accompanies it. Amid all the meat, the asparagus dish was extremely necessary. It offers your palate a nice break, though it presented a whole different set of flavors on its own. The most pungent was the sautéed veal sweetbreads with warm roasted mushrooms and spinach.
It’s saying a lot when the least creative dish of the night is the strawberry-cinnamon glazed baby back pork ribs. The flavors are there, but the substance is not, with not a lot of meat sitting on the bones.
I hate to say this because each one of these dishes really came off having personality and been thought through carefully, but Jay brought up a good point in that after a while, the powerful flavors start to blend. It may be best to experience this slowly, or even make multiple visit to try few plates at a time.
Anyhow, we rounded out with that pistachio cake dessert that I mentioned above, but what they really get a lot of press for is their bacon donuts. I don’t think this is as good as the former, but you have to wonder why you don’t see this item on more menus!