Kolae has opened where the Neal’s Yard cheese warehouse used to be, right next to Monmouth coffee. It is a good location.
The crowded downstairs. A bit narrow on the way in, it is bustling just like my mind (unfortunately).
Upstairs, the cosy feel continues, with narrow (but tasteful) wooden walkways and booth seating on the sides.
The placing. Modern and classy settings matched well with the slightly industrial wooden decor. The words innovative, entrepreneur and leading light have been somewhat overdone. When these are applied to food, my suspicion grows that it is all marketing rubbish. So I won’t use them here, even if they appear in other people’s reviews. Instead, I will just say the decor is understated. Which brings me onto the food.
Koale grilled mussel skewers. Yet perhaps this is something that those words can apply to as this was something that I have never come across before. Skewered mussels. Bathed in a savoury and slightly spicy sauce, set off by a squeeze of lime. Delightfully meaty, soft and slightly charred. If the restaurant could hold up this level of quality, I was in for a wild ride.
Phuket style soy-braised middlewhite belly and ribs. I have yet to come across a piece of meat with substantial fat that I didn’t like. This proved no exception, with deeply infused pork belly making my tongue dance in delight. Meaty, smooth, salty and spicy. Even if a little challenged in the size department.
Kale and herb fritters with fermented chilli and cashew nuts. The stand-out dish of the meal, crispy, meaty (for a vegetable only dish!) with heavy notes of umami. Excellent. This was enough to make me seriously consider wandering away from meat in my diet.
Kua kling curry of minced venison, kee nu chilli and lemongrass. This usually fiery, and flavoured filled dish was sadly nondescript. The chilli and little strands of lemongrass were not enough to lift up this minced deer, it kind of tasted like generic minced piggy. It was so sad that it almost brought me to tears. This dish could have been so great! Yet to choke and fall at the end is not something that I’ve not seen before. Many a restaurant has fallen by the wayside for the same reason.
Paddi new season hom mali rice. White and red rice mixed up. A bit too dry for my liking, seemed like they hadn’t put enough water or perhaps left it lying cooked for too long.
Pandan sticky rice, young coconut sorbet, peanuts and jackfruit. It was more a case of green dyed rice, peanuts and sorbet with a light taste of chocolate. This was as sapid as it sounds. Looked better than it tasted, you could give this a miss.
In such a handsome building and location next to stalwat cheese and coffee shops, it is sad that although there were signs of genius in the kitchen, it was overwhelmed by sad mediocrity in some dishes. This was the case of one rotten apple spoiling the shipment. Or maybe that should refer to one little deer.
A quiet eating 7/10.
Lunch (2 courses equivalent) was GBP30 excluding drinks and service.
6 Park Street, Borough
London SE1 9AB