A year on from opening its doors, and the demand for Kiln’s Northern Thai chargrill is ample. The little gem tucked in Brewer Street in Soho launched to rave reviews with expectations already set high, being the offshoot to Ben Chapman’s Smoking Goat. We decided to pop by and refresh our taste buds.
Arriving straight from the studio around 7pm midweek, as expected, we did have to wait for a table (booking ahead is not an option unless for groups of 4 or more, which are sat downstairs), so we added our name to a growing list, and were lead to the rear of the narrow space. Perched next to the action of the open kitchen, we had a drink and began to salivate over the menu as we waited.
The interior is simple. From entering through the minimal, warm-timber shop front, the entire right-side of restaurant is a long bar that runs into open kitchen, with high seating stools fixed the entire length. The walls are skimmed white brickwork with timber-back bar shelves that turn into floor-to-ceiling stainless steel as the heat turns up to the rear. The remaining space on the left is a passage - just big enough for you to squeeze past the host and waiters to access your spot. Warm and low lighting creates an instantly cozy environment, offset with the buzz and chatter of the customers and motion of the chefs. Occasional plants in clay pots (in keeping with the dishes being used to create and present the food) add softness and are the only colour pop in the space. Simple, but effective.
The host arrived with two glasses of white wine for us - not yet on the menu, and extremely delicious - as way of apology for our wait. A lovely gesture, but we genuinely didn’t mind, feeling relaxed and enjoying watching the chefs do their thing. In the end, I feel we secured the best seats in the house; placed directly in front of the wood burning kiln and chargrill (no gas being used here!). An array of rustic and battered clay and terracotta pots with smoking contents are being tended to by the chefs, as specially-bred-for-Kiln British meat is being seasoned, and lobsters and fresh seafood is being garnished.
The menu is designed with sharing in mind and we’re advised 6 dishes between us should be about right. We went for 8, wishing we could fit in more. To start, we worked our way through Aged Lamb & Cumin skewers then the most juicy Langoustines with Kaffir Lime & Sweet Mint. We followed with Steamed Turbot, White Soy & Lemongrass - probably my favourite dish - the flavours combined wonderfully to make this elegant plate. We decided to order the signature dish of Glass Noodles with Tanworth Belly & Brown Crab; all baked in the clay pots smoking in front of us. We finished with the Wild Ginger & Beef Cheek Curry from Burma and Jasmine Rice side. Another burst of fresh flavours hit us, and the tender meat melted in our mouths finishing our meal on a high. Kiln offers no desserts, so instead I had one of their signature cocktails to finish.