Thanks to a lovely Twitter lady, I had the chance to go to Flesh and Buns. Bone Daddies’ new basement opening in the heart of Covent Garden.
I called a friend, as the reservation was for two people, and we met up at the location in Earlham Street. It was a very hot day, so I was extremely glad to get into the much cooler basement.
I admit, I was thinking that I’d not be hipster or cool enough for the place, but oh my, I was wrong. They have a variety of seating options, from long tables with comfortable bench seats – ideal for families to sit together – or table for two or more. There’s also a long, central table with high stools, I assume for a quick munch and run style dinner. I also love the fact that you can see into the kitchen, at one end of the room.
There were already two families with babies and small children, all accommodated for, and none of the children were running around. To be honest, they all were concentrating very hard on their food.
We asked for tap water, because I know how thirsty I get with Asian food, and we didn’t get sneered at, or asked if we were sure. In fact, we were brought a whole big bottle of filtered tap water which made me very happy.
On to the menu. I apologise in advance for the quality, it’s a low ceilinged basement, and I think the lights had a flicker which my camera picked up as stripes. Sorry about that. The actual menu is here, without any annoying stripes!
The staff were really friendly, and willing to please. Happy to explain anything, and quick with our orders. A lot quicker than we were to decide…
It is quite dark, but it’s not cloying. There was music, but it was totally unobtrusive, and certainly didn't disturb us.
You get soy and chilli sauces on every table, with dipping bowls.
This just looked way too hot for my blood!
The squid turned up first.
I eat a LOT of squid, and I can safely say that this one of the best dishes I have ever eaten. Perfectly tender, with an excellent crisp coating. Beautifully spiced, but not overpowering, and perfectly seasoned. The squid was as tender as it could be. You get half a lime with it, but the squid really doesn’t need it.
Then came the asparagus.
They had managed to imbue so much smoke flavour into this, matched very well with the sweet white miso paste. I could have eaten a good two or three plates of this one.
Have a poncy arty shot.
The next dish blew me away. Beef tataki with onion ponzu. (I also covet the plate. Lots.)
I think the garnish was deep fried shallot, or onion, with fried enoki mushroom. Either way, we couldn't get enough. Folding over each slice of amazingly tender beef, so that you had a sandwich of the garnish, dripping with that zingy, clear ponzu. Deeply savoury, and yet very fresh and light. We were both in heaven with this and extremely glad we ordered it. Next time I may try the tuna tataki.
At this point, we realised that the main was about to arrive. We braced ourselves, and moved the dessert stomachs out of the way to make more room in the Dinner one. We absolutely knew that dessert was not going to happen.
A bamboo steamer turned up with a batch of hot, pillowy ready split bao. Perfect for making your own stuffed bun. You get two buns each, and a large bowl of salad, sauce, plus whatever meat or fish you have chosen. You can also order more buns, but we really didn’t need them.
Up came the meat.
Flatiron steak is much underrated, with people thinking it will be tough or chewy. This one really wasn’t. It had a deep, savoury flavour, intensely beefy, and made a very filling lunch indeed.
We stuffed buns, we arranged shimeji, we drizzled sauce. We sunk our teeth in and vowed to come back for more.
Why yes! It’s another poncy, arty shot! I just loved the way that this slice of cucumber looked.
All in all, we absolutely loved the food. That tataki was my outstanding dish, but I need to go back to try even more. They have such a good mix of flavours and textures, from light, fresh and zingy, to the warm, tender comfort of perfectly steamed bao.
At £40 for the two of us, including service, it is not an every day lunch, but a treat that I would consider every so often.
Thank you to to all concerned, including Charlotte, our waitress, who was efficient, and happy to tell us anything that we needed to know, but who didn’t hover over us.
Flesh & Buns,
41 Earlham St, London WC2H 9LX
020 7632 9500