The Fancy Fork By Farmer J, London EC4: restaurant review
Try £5 cocktails, freekeh risotto and nutty winter salads at this Israeli fusion restaurant
Looking for great-value restaurants in London? Check out our review of The Fancy Fork, or read our guide to London restaurants.
The Fancy Fork in a nutshell
Israeli chef Shuli Wimer has set up an evening offering at Farmer J's Monument site, serving seasonally led sharing plates inspired by her homeland's ingredients and flavours.
Shuli grew up in Galilee in northern Israel – a fertile region home to almond and pomegranate orchards, olive groves and vineyards – before working as a chef at the likes of L28 in Tel Aviv and, later, at The River Café in London, where she put in a five-year stint at the acclaimed restaurant.
What's the vibe?
Casual grab-and-go eatery by day, Farmer J's light, airy, neutral-toned interiors are peppered with verdant pot plants. Judiciously dim lighting gives the space a slinkier feel for the evening service.
What's the food like at The Fancy Fork?
Expect plenty of Israeli-style dishes and ingredients on the sharing-plates menu, with some intriguing Mediterranean accents. From the “house loaf & dips” section, a hefty block of glossy, toasted challah bread is crisp yet pillow-light inside, and makes the perfect vehicle for a herbaceous za'atar dip and umami coarse chicken liver pâté.
Delicate slices of raw red mullet come dressed (slightly too generously) with grassy olive oil, the richness cut through with subtly anise shaved fennel and dill, slices of green chilli and salty hits of bottarga. Freekeh squid 'risotto' is a lighter take on the Italian classic, the grains (with just the right amount of bite) bathing in a herb-and-tomato-flecked broth, with tender slivers of squid. Find more ris0tto recipes here.
The low-key dishes also shone. Golden soldiers of polenta are as perfectly crisp as one could wish, and come with a pool of yogurt and zhoug to dredge them through. Surprise hit of the night was a winter vegetable salad: sweet, crunchy radishes, carrots and radicchio in a hearty herb and almond dressing, with more of the latter scattered, flaked, over the top. Dessert is simple but no less for it, a creamy mound of whipped, rosewater-scented ricotta jewelled with shards of caramelised pistachio and plump wedges of luscious figs.
And the drinks?
There's a pithy wine list (including some Israeli vintages, on our visit) and Jarr kombucha on tap, but make a beeline for the cocktails, £5 each from 5-7pm. Generously sized and well mixed, we tried the Camilla, a lighter, more citrussy riff on the negroni; and a silky, fruity yet punchy brandy and apple concoction.
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