Ever since I first visited Cook House for lunch back in its shipping container days, I have been in love with the culinary concept and intimacy that Anna Hedworth (The Grazer) has cultured in her Ouseburn venture. Not only was the food understated yet wholeheartedly delicious on my visit, but the rustic charm and the sense of being amongst family and friends in the restaurant was infectious.
I was thrilled to hear that 2018 would see the coming of a new dawn for Cook House, as Anna Hedworth took the restaurant to a brand new, larger venue. I have to admit that a small part of me felt wary that a bigger venue wouldn’t feel as cosy and home-like as the old restaurant. However, it quickly became clear that this was far from the truth and we had a fantastic family lunch at the new Cook House on Foundry Lane on 23rd December.
Alongside minimalist furniture, an open-kitchen, log burners and a wonderfully unusual statement piece from Wildflower Ouseburn hanging from the ceiling, the feature wall of the Cook House is probably one of my favourite things about the venue. Rich and warm colours have been used to depict a scene of wild game, autumnal fruits and the pantry essentials that The Grazer so often incorporates into her dishes. It was a stark and welcome contrast to the almost ‘Scandi’ décor of the rest of the interior.
I haven’t even begun describing how great the food was yet! One thing I love about the ethos of Cook House, is that the menu changes daily, dependent upon what is fresh and what new ideas Anna comes up with. Aside from a couple of staple dishes that have proved so popular that they have been carried over to the menu of the new venue, you can expect to see new and exciting dishes and flavour combinations on a regular basis.
I could’ve quite easily sat in Cook House all day on 23rd December, and slowly made my way through the fantastic menu on offer that day. I selected a dish then almost as quickly, I changed my mind and picked something else – whatever I chose, there would be an opportunity cost and a flavour combination not tried! Eventually my family and I decided to skip starter (this time, and this time only) and go for the Roast Chicken Sharing Dish.
I can’t remember exactly how much this sharing dish cost, but it was definitely around the £40 mark and it fed a family of four major foodies with plenty left over. My Dad’s face as the friendly waiting staff brought over a whole beautifully roasted chicken with crispy, golden skin, bathing in a mixture of chicken juices, lemon juice and crème fraiche, was a sight to behold – pure elation! The chicken is accompanied by carving tools, so that someone in your dining party can carve the meat up at the table, ensuring everybody gets their favourite bit of chicken meat and a decent portion of crispy skin. I absolutely loved this concept and it provided a great deal of conversation and fun at the table.
The chicken itself was succulent and cooked to perfection, but the side dishes that arrived soon after were what made the dish for me. As well as a crisp, fresh green leaf salad complete with herbs, we were presented with a dish full of crunchy roasted new potatoes and roast celeriac. Spoon a large dollop of homemade aioli onto the side of your plate, mix with the chicken juices and you have a plate of food that will make your heart and taste-buds sing. The waiting staff were only too happy to oblige when we requested another bowl of aioli, in which to dip the remainder of the roast potatoes and chicken skin! A true foodie’s dream.
Because we’d skipped the starters, we felt it was only right to indulge in a little dessert, and so picked a boozy poached pear and a wonderful dark chocolate cake, served with mascarpone cream, candied orange and pomegranate seeds. I can quite honestly say that I couldn’t find fault in any of the food we had – it was impossible not to love each dish and appreciate the genius simplicity of each plate.
We washed down this wonderful meal with a really lovely Sauvignon Blanc, picked from an inspiring wine list. My sister, who wasn’t drinking that day, commented on the freshness of the Cook House Lemonade, and how well it complemented the meal we’d chosen.
After the meal, we had a chat with some of the staff working at Cook House (they had no idea that we would writing a blog post on the restaurant), who were so accommodating and friendly. They informed us of all the exciting things Cook House have planned in the future, including refurbishing the outdoor area to have a summer dining terrace and developing the in-house shop that will sell a range of produce and The Grazer’s favourite wines and beers. It was recently revealed that Cook House will soon be rolling out takeaway food, a series of guest chefs and events/classes, and even keeping bees!
This really is an exciting restaurant and is clearly the product of a huge amount of hard work, love and passion for local produce and producing great plates of food from simple ingredients, that people will enjoy.
Have you visited the new Cook House yet? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the new venue and the dishes you tried on your visit – please comment and let me know!