Monkfish liver @ Toasted, Dulwich, London
Credit goes to my pals for telling me how superb Toasted is. We tried over half the menu, and everything was at least excellent. Sprouting broccoli peered up by the umami of bottarga and refreshing lemon zest. Salty oceany clams in a complex broth of sherry. Clean-tasting elegant Colchester oysters, smoothly salty, enhanced by the judicious acidity of a mild dressing. etc.
Amongst all the deliciousness, the monkfish liver stood out. A remarkably smooth firm yet soft texture, reminiscent of bean curd/tofu, its livery richness and luxuriance contrasted with a hint of bitterness in radicchio, some vegetal leaves and cut by very well tuned sweetness in the underlying dressing. Remarkable eloquence in the flavour combination. (I had to admit that it was in some ways more satisfying than the monkfish liver boudin that I had recently at Benu in SF.)
The chocolate tart was outstanding - superb balance from a very precise nudge of salt and tinge of spiciness, and beautiful temper in the chocolate that was remarkably smooth, showing off as a glossy sheen on the surface of the tart. Reminded me of the chocolate fondant at the French Laundry over a decade ago (well, sans gold leaf).
This meal was serious, nuanced, interesting (if whimsical) and sophisticated (my friend's description, which I think is perfect) food, masquerading as casual cooking in a wine bar setting. If this is what they do routinely, there aren't that many modern European restaurants that are in their league.
P.S. try the tomato liqueur.