Chef Ben Chapman, co-founder of the successful Smoking Goat on Demark Street, has nailed it again with Kiln, an ode to regional Thai food with nods to Burma, Yunnan (a bordering Chinese province) and Bangkok’s Yarowat Road. The name refers to their use of wood-burning kilns, with clay pots, woks and sweet chestnut embers on show behind the counter. There’s no gas and limited electricity in the kitchen, where the freshest fish and whole animals are prepared before your eyes, seasoned with Thai herbs grown specially in Dorset & Cornwall. Supporting an ever changing menu is a Zeren Wilson wine list, simple and affordable mixed drinks (£5 whiskey sodas), and an exciting sharing beer or two (including 750ml bottles from Portland’s exceptional Cascade Brewing).
There’s only one way to start a meal at Kiln, and that’s with their cumin laced, aged lamb skewers – fatty flavour bombs that you won’t want to share. Order at least one each, alongside some smoked sausages with turmeric and the slow grilled chicken soy. From there, it’s up to you – how hungry are you and how spicy do you want to go? They’ll happily take the edge off where they can if you insist, but where’s the fun in that?
We devoured a Burmese wild ginger and shortrib curry, mopping up a dark, warming sauce with brown Jasmine rice and a spoon. Clay pot baked glass noodles hiding Mangalitsa belly and brown crab meat was another hit, with a DIY element of mixing it together left to the punters – the chefs have got more skilled tasks to perform. We also enjoyed a monkfish jungle curry (fairly hot, traditionally without coconut milk) and our 5-a-day stir fried Cornish greens with soy. Trust the rave reviews out there – it’s all great.
And so this brings us to reservations. As usual, especially in this part of town, they don’t take reservations for the counter seats, BUT you can book for a table of four or more in the downstairs dining room. It’s not as sexy as the fireside seats upstairs, but if you can’t face a lengthy wait then plan ahead and settle in!
Kiln – kilnsoho.com
58 Brewer Street, W1F 9TL