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From the outside, Wood & Fire is so discreetly signposted you could easily miss it. That would be a mistake. This relative newcomer on Brooklyn Square is fast making a name for itself with its impressive cuisine. But if the branding is so subtle as to risk being overlooked, a confusingly indistinct food offering exacerbates the problem. Is it a steakhouse? A tapas spot? Should you go for the steamed buns… or the seafood?
The answer: All of the above. Innovative brunch and light dining offerings include the intriguing French toast option with berries, lemon and elderflower gel, white chocolate crumble and cream cheese ice cream, and three types of deliciously soft steamed buns. The seafood options are excellent, as are the steaks, ribs, oxtail and other offerings from the grill, which are cooked over fire and finished off in the Bertha – a charcoal oven that’s said to maximise flavour.
Yet it’s in the tapas department where Wood & Fire truly shows its mettle and offers exceptional value. The short rib is exquisitely stringy and explodes with flavour, the delicate sweetness of the glaze offset by a tangy coleslaw. Chicken livers usually aren’t much to look at, but in this incarnation, they arrive beautifully plated with flavour to match.
An unexpected underperformer is the pork belly. The miso caramel cream is witheringly sweet, the crackling ungainly and the spiced pickled apple gets lost – while the pork itself is colourless. It’s a tricky balancing act of flavours that just doesn’t come together. But this is soon forgotten. The seared tuna with corn is fresh and flavoursome, and a surprising little showstopper is the king trumpet mushroom and parmesan.
Slithers of scored, perfectly chewy mushroom are teamed with parmesan crisps, as well as finely grated fresh parmesan on top of a wooden round.
After all that, save space for something sweet. The white chocolate cheesecake comes highly recommended, but the porcini ‘sweetie pie’ (porcini and chocolate ice cream, marshmallow fluff, wafer and other delights) will have you scraping at the dessert bowl to savour every last drop.
The cocktail menu takes its cue from Eastern influences, with options like the ‘cherry sake’ (dark cherries, sake and amaretto) and a French martini (vodka, crème de cassis and pineapple juice.) There are seven types of gin, four types of vodka and loads of whiskies and single malts. The well-considered wine selection includes several reasonably priced by-the-glass options. Champagne lovers are spoilt for choice.
Service is consistently attentive, but never invasive. The menu can be baffling at first, but friendly and knowledgeable help is at hand to help you make up your mind.
Many establishments seem self-obsessed to the point of dictating their customers’ every experience. It’s refreshing, then, to visit a restaurant that allows its diners to set the tone. The colour scheme is all elegant neutrals, made slightly whimsical with textures of leather, exposed brickwork and walls the colour of a fine copper patina. Although the acoustics aren’t amazing and the music seems to come and go, the ambience is elegant and discreet – a backdrop that lends itself to a business meal or first date with equal ease.
An elegant, unfettered and unusual dining experience.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.