Twist at Crawford is like a David Lynch film. Completely baffling, but excellent
The decor is rustic rough luxe. Think exposed brick, warm wooden furnishings and mismatched filament light bulbs hanging from the ceiling – which look like they’ve been stored in an old garage since 1973.
Siting at my table, the first thing I notice are the cheap paper napkins bearing the restaurant’s logo. They strike me as a strange choice for a new, upscale neighbourhood restaurant in Marylebone serving dishes like pounded raw beef with black truffle. But that’s probably part of Twist’s chaotic, “don’t categorise me” persona.
This proud chaos extends to the food. While head chef Eduardo Tuccillo sources as much local produce as possible (award-winning butcher Walter Rose & Son supplies the meat), he plays with a mind boggling array of food influences – from Japanese to Spanish to Italian to Moroccan.
Eduardo is Neapolitan, but trained in Amalfi and Paris before working nine years as a chef in the United States. His flair in the kitchen reflects all of these experiences: the menu is an unapologetic mishmash of Italian, Spanish, French, American and Asian cuisines.
I start with a range of tapas dishes. First is tuna tartare with wasabi mayo and shichimi pepper. The tartare is smooth, cooling and light. The wasabi cuts through the sea taste, adding a spicy dimension without making my eyes water.
Next is prawns in their shell with chilli, garlic and black risotto. Small dishes based around juicy, beautiful prawns, when executed well, are always pleasant but usually generic. The risotto adds a dark earthiness that is rare for a prawn starter. The dish of beetroot, sweet potato and goats cheese is a blip. Too overpowering and not enough texture.
Thankfully, the next dish pulls the standards up again. Skirt steak cut from the plate and packed with flavour. Chefs fear this cut as it can be tough. Eduardo gets around this by marinating it with smoked garlic, parsley and olive oil. Chewing on it unleashes a stonking amount of flavour in the mouth. Like the cow had spent its life feasting on spinach and protein shakes.
The powerful flavours of the garlic and parsley are a mighty match for the deep flavours of the beef, working with them rather than in competition.
Desert is grilled pineapple with coconut milk and chocolate flakes. Grilled pineapple can be the dessert equivalent of the prawn cocktail. It’s difficult to make it look like much effort went in. This one has more personality than most variations of the dish that I have tried. The coconut milk has warmth, while the sprinkling of chocolate makes it comforting. That is hard to achieve with a dessert based around an exotic fruit.
So is their method in the madness for Twist at Crawford – a restaurant I wouldn’t dare to define? Sort of. After all, the food tastes pretty awesome. And that’s all that diners need to understand.
Sherelle Jacobs dined as a guest at Twist at Crawford
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Yes, you read that right
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