By Debbie Djordjevic
A highly regarded North London restaurant serving the best of Anatolian cuisine with a modern take.
The end of the Piccadilly line in North London isn’t somewhere that everyone will venture to. The final stop, Cockfosters, is as far as you can go north before the streets of London are replaced by farm fields and the quaint villages of Hertfordshire. For years it has been home to the famous Chickenshed theatre, but for a while now it has also been building a reputation for great independent restaurants. Before this North Londoners had to look to Muswell Hill and Hampstead if they wanted to eat out but now the variety and quality on offer is not just on a par with these highly desired suburbs, but is arguably and in some cases, better.
Skewd joined the ranks about three years ago and the team of enthusiastic, young restaurant creators have built up a solid reputation for great Turkish food with – as they put it – a ‘twist’. This is not just another Turkish restaurant like those found on every shopping parade in Harringay and all along Green Lanes. This restaurant stands out for both quality and the fact that although lovers of traditional Turkish (in this case Anatolian) food won’t be disappointed, there’s a great deal on the menu that has been uniquely developed by the chef and the owner (who is also a trained chef).
You walk in to a bustling and obviously popular restaurant and from the door you can see cocktails being made at the well stocked bar and breads being baked in the open oven. At the back is the open-plan kitchen with its huge coal grill at the front for cooking so many of the traditional meals on the menu.
I visited early on a Friday night. They had just launched their special December menu which pays a nod to the season but is far removed from standard Christmas fare. We decided to try both the starters from this specials list. The Festive Goat was mild goat’s cheese with a topping of caramelised cranberry and served with a roasted pumpkin tahini and walnuts. All of these ingredients worked extremely well together – no one flavour overpowered anything else. My partner opted for Anatolian Scallops which were wrapped in ‘pastirma’ (a highly seasoned, air-dried cured beef of Anatolian origin) and served on a bed of pea puree. Think the perfect alternative to bacon wrapped scallops which were soft and melted in the mouth.
Next up we sampled the house signature dish, lamb shish made from the best cut of the neck of lamb marinated in a mix of herbs and spices. Simply the best lamb my partner has had anywhere (or so he claimed). I opted for the Saint Nicholas’ Feast from the December specials list. Again finest lamb cutlets coated with pistachios, cumin and sesame seed and served with a creamy pumpkin mash, shaved asparagus and pomegranate and honey molasses. The combination of pistachios and cumin worked so well with the lamb and the molasses added a warmth just right for this time of year.
We finished with some delightful desserts. A walnut pudding that was warm and moist and full of sweetness. A blueberry cheesecake made on the premises (as with almost everything else on the menu) that is an absolute favourite with the clientele, and mastica ice-cream which they are currently trialling. Home-made from mastica (which is a member of the bonsai family and an Anatolian favourite) it tasted slightly of tea. And I can’t forget the warm and melting chocolate brownie either which was as all good chocolate brownies should be, soft and melting on the inside and crisp on the outside.
All in all a fabulous meal prepared by people who are passionate about what they do. The team from Skewd are up and out at 2am to buy the best ingredients from Spitalfields, Smithfield and Billingsgate market and by 7.30am they are in the restaurant preparing the day’s dishes. This guarantees that everything served is both fresh and seasonal which pays off in spades. By the time we reluctantly took our leave the place was buzzing with large groups and couples all out for a Friday night feast. If you are passing through or within striking distance of Cockfosters I would recommend you join them.
Prices around £35-40 per head plus wine for a three-course meal.