Crab and sweet potato fish cakes, homemade chilli salsa at Pot and Grill
Little gastro tweaks and stunning presentation has created a traditional Caribbean menu with some fine dining sophistication.
In the prime location of Stratford High Street, Pot and Grill opened its doors to hungry patrons on January 7th, 2015. This innovative new eatery is the brainchild of top chef Maurice Charles, which he defines as: “A permanent pop-up - sort of a restaurant/nightclub. You come and enjoy the food and then on a Saturday night at nine o’ clock we clear away and the main area will be used as a dance floor. We’ll be playing lots of grown up music. Proper r&b and soul.” Designed to appeal to diners and party animals alike, chef Charles’ vision for a one-stop location is a fantastic one and avoids pesky night bus journeys.
The British-Caribbean inspired menu is devised and cooked by the man himself. Coming from a Dominican background, chef Charles explains that his menu was influenced by the food that he grew up eating and he’s added his own twists too. “If you’re tired of mundane food come to Pot and Grill and get tantalised.” I am always eager to be tantalised so was impressed by the menu’s array of Caribbean classics. With pulled jerk pork croquettes, seafood soup and brown stew chicken there’s plenty of island flavours. Chef Charles is passionate about using locally sourced and fresh ingredients and buys all his produce himself from London’s local food markets.
Vegetarian starter at Pot and Grill restaurant, Stratford © Gillian Fisher
To start, my friend partook of chef Charles own invention; the crab and sweet potato fishcakes, which arrived looking like an angular work of art. The fish was succulent and the batter coating crisp, homemade chilli salsa adding a little kick. Being Caribbean cuisine there was a lack of veggie starters, so I happily ordered yellow yam and dumpling from the ‘boiled provisions’ list. However, the chef twigged my herbivore status and came from the kitchen asking “Do you like salad? Sweet peppers? Feta?” Then strode off assuredly saying “I’ll sort it for you.” I was delighted when my bespoke salad arrived with pumpkin seeds and avocado thrown into the mix - flavoursome and fresh opener.
I have not enjoyed a meal so much in a long time. Each dish was wonderfully cooked and incredibly flavoursome.
At present the ‘night-restaurant’ has a chilled atmosphere and will have more of a party vibe once the paintwork and other bits are finished.
Desserts at Pot and Grill restaurant, Stratford © Gillian Fisher
For the main I tried the Trini curried chickpeas with fresh mango and coconut. The subtle sweetness of the coconut and zing of the mango was perfectly balanced with the savoury spices. My friend’s curried goat did indeed live up the menu’s claim of ‘falling off the bone’ and the meat was rich and tender. Each dish from ‘the pot’ comes with one side dish so we chose rice and peas and macaroni cheese. The rice and peas were al dente with just the right amount of seasoning. The macaroni cheese was creamy and thick, made rather fancily with parmesan and gouda. I must admit I was feeling quite tantalised at this point; my curry packed quite a punch. When asked what gave both our dishes their heat I was told fresh garlic, ginger and plenty of scotch bonnets (including the seeds.) That explained why my lips were tingling.
Pot and Grill restaurant, Stratford © Gillian Fisher
Whilst both my date and myself chose slow cooked and tender dishes from ‘the pot’ there was also a veritable range of seared and smoky offerings from ‘the grill.’ These included a selection of 100 per cent ground beef burgers such as the fantastically named ‘Gut Buster.’ This comprises of pulled brisket of beef and Swiss cheese. There are also steaks with a choice of jerk, barbecue or herb butter sauce and of course, crispy hot wings. Chef Charles having spent the last 24 years cooking in exclusive venues such as The Wellington Club and the Waldorf hotel really shows in his food. Little gastro tweaks and stunning presentation has created a traditional Caribbean menu with some fine dining sophistication.
Fall off the bone curried goat and steamed vegetables at Pot and Grill
Despite my waistband already feeling the strain, I decided upon banoffee pie for pudding and my gentleman friend went for apple crumble with custard. Finally, a restaurant which knows what a proper afters portion should entail! My biscuit based pud with lashings of whipped cream and gooey caramel was divine. And huge! The apple crumble was quite tart with plenty of cinnamon in the topping. I have not enjoyed a meal so much in a long time. Each dish was wonderfully cooked and incredibly flavoursome. The vision for a venue with dinner and dancing makes this a unique locale and a thoroughly delicious dining experience. I left Pot and Grill with a slight scotch bonnet induced trout pout, feeling very full and undoubtedly tantalised.
Info: Pot & Grill, 405 Stratford High Street (4 minutes walk from Stratford station, 2 doors left of the Magistrate Court), London E15 4QZ | Phone: 07951 665052 | Twitter: @PotandGrill / #PotandGrill | Facebook: www.facebook.com/PotandGrill | Open: 12-9pm, Tuesday to Saturday 78