Book Review: The Garden Museum Cafe

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Two years in the making, chef George Ryle’s first self-published cookbook offers a loving and deeply personal look behind the scenes at his Garden Museum Café in south London.

Ryles, whose resume includes stints at London neighborhood restaurant Primeur and Jordan Frieda and Tim Siadatan’s Padella, launched the restaurant in 2017 with friend and fellow chef, Harry Kauffman (formerly of St John Bread & Wine and Lyles). Located in Lambeth’s historic Garden Museum, the Café has won acclaim for its hearty produce-focused approach and contemporary seasonal cuisine that combines elements of modern British and European cuisine.

This affects A year in the kitchen​, which is divided between the four seasons, with four recipes for each section. Spring, of course, emphasizes fresher, brighter flavors with recipes including poached chicken with asparagus, Jersey Royals and wild garlic, and cold rice pudding with poached rhubarb; while summer indulges in pared-back, produce-focused dishes like ray with samphire and currants; and pork chop with white beans, chanterelles and sage. Autumn puts the emphasis on game with a recipe for roasted partridge with salsify, sprout tops and pancetta; while winter pulls towards the rich and heartier dish of braised beef cheeks and the temptation of Jansson; and dark chocolate, kumquats and fresh cream.

With only 81 pages in total, A year in the kitchenis small in size, but Ryle makes good use of the limited space. Each recipe comes with a personal note from the chef to explain his inspiration behind the dish, as well as cooking instructions. A lot of time is also spent defending some of the restaurant’s major suppliers, including Swaledale, Flying Fish and Natoora.

Particularly for fans of the restaurant, this is a cookbook that offers passionate insight into the development of Ryle’s dishes at the Garden Museum Café, capturing the creative rigor of the cuisine with great dynamism and zeal.

Author:george ryle
Number of pages:81
Must-try dish:​ Roasted partridge with salsify, sprouts and pancetta
Publisher and price:Garden Museum, £20

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