The Modern Menu: Tomos Parry cooks grilled wild mushrooms with confit egg yolks and barley at Brat in Shoreditch
In March this year chef Tomos Parry opened his first solo restaurant, Brat (an old name for ‘turbot’), in Shoreditch, serving up a grill-focused, Basque country-inspired menu. What has happened since then is remarkable.
For one, Tomos’ food has garnered deep adoration, with reviewers drawing comparison to Fergus Henderson’s legendary St. John, and one even calling it the ‘most exciting new restaurant in Europe’. A Michelin star came in October, just seven months after the restaurant opened its doors. Naturally, it can be difficult to get a table.
‘The Modern Menu’ takes us to restaurants owned by our favourite chefs to talk to them about how home cooking has influenced their work, while also asking them to share a recipe for a dish that can be cooked at home. Here, Tomos talks about his love of Basque culinary culture and shares a recipe for grilled wild mushrooms with confit egg yolks and barley.
Tomos: “I grew up surrounded by the sea on Anglesey, an island in north Wales. My dad was on the lifeboats, and there was always fresh fish and mussels around.
“But, to be honest, there wasn’t the same amount of respect for seafood as there is in Spain, for example. I wouldn’t say I grew up eating incredible food but I was aware of produce, which was inspiring.
“The area surrounding Anglesey is the Snowdonia region, where mountains, woodland and sea dominate the landscape. I see a lot of similarities between where I grew up and the Basque country: the same climate and landscape, it’s very green and the waters are cold, the people are very proud, there’s a regional language and both exist semi-separately politically.
“I first went to the Basque country ten or 15 years ago, initially just to party when I was younger. Then, I started going as a tourist who loved food, and then more seriously as a chef over the last six or seven years.
“I’ve always been drawn to the region, but also Majorca and Spain more generally because of the respect people have for produce there.
“My favourite restaurants in Spain are always family run. Normally, the parents run the front of house, and the kids cook in the kitchen. That’s generally how all the good restaurants work, especially in northern port towns like Getaria.
“Seeing all of that grew and developed ideas in my head for what I wanted this restaurant to be. I 100 per cent wanted Brat to feel like a family-run restaurant in Spain.
“What’s interesting about those restaurants is that you actually come in through the kitchens a lot of the time. The way you walk into Brat is the same, meaning diners see, smell and hear the kitchen, and feel the temperature of the fire, as soon as they come in.
“We have a bar in the middle but it feels more like an island in a domestic kitchen, which people always naturally tend to congregate around. If you go to the hills around San Sebastian, a lot of restaurants are in people’s homes and we wanted to try and keep that warmth here but without being naff!
“The food we serve is inspired by the northern Spanish approach, which is about cooking whole fish, birds or chops and putting it on the table in the middle of the family.
“That communal atmosphere of eating is something we wanted to encourage here. We went for long tables where people sit side-by-side to the next party along. There are restaurants I go to in Portugal where you end up overspilling into the next table and I like the energy it brings to the room.
“If you’re at one of these tables, you feel like you’re part of a bigger meal. It’s about keeping all of those elements I like and making them feasible at a restaurant in London – it’s a balancing act.
“I cook fairly simple food at home. I quite like Asian and Japanese-inspired food outside of the restaurant, which I think is the same for a lot of chefs because it’s refreshing. It’s a world away from what I cook here and I’m no expert, but if I’ve been tasting food here all day, the lightness of Asian food is really welcomed.
“At home it’s about keeping things simple, not trying to replicate restaurant food, and embracing what we have that’s good here.
“The big supermarkets make all food available all year round, so you can buy asparagus in November. People get into the mindset of Googling what they want to cook, and then going to Tesco to find it all. I think we just need to be a bit more positive about British ingredients – all of our produce here is sourced from the UK – and not be obsessed with avocados!
“I still find the time to eat out, and probably do it more than I cook at home because it’s nice for me and my wife to get out together. I like to eat out in Asian places in Soho, and Turkish restaurants in Dalston.
“Now is a great time to have a restaurant in London as the scene is booming – there are no two ways about it. As long as you’re smart, don’t make it intimidating and are clever in how you communicate to people, you can do whatever you want, and be really bloody niche. You couldn’t do that 20 years ago.”
Tomos’ recipe for grilled wild mushrooms with confit egg yolks and barley
For four people
500g button mushrooms, washed and cut in half
250g white onions, cut into small dice
150g leeks, dark green parts removed, cut into small dice
100g carrots, cut into small dice
¼ fennel bulb, coarsely chopped
1⁄2 head garlic, unpeeled
2 tbsp rapeseed oil
1 sprig thyme
4 sprigs flat-leaf parsley
8 black peppercorns
1 bay leaf
Sea salt to taste
Preheat the oven to 18°C.
In a large bowl, toss the mushrooms, white onion, leeks, carrots, fennel, and garlic with the rapeseed oil to coat.
Spread the vegetables in a single layer on a roasting tray. Roast for one hour, turning occasionally.
Transfer the vegetables to a medium stockpot, scraping the pan with a spatula to loosen any brown bits. Add cold water, thyme, parsley, peppercorns, and bay leaf, then set the pot over medium heat.
Slowly bring to a gentle boil, then lower the heat to maintain a simmer, skimming the surface as soon as scum appears. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about one hour. Turn off the heat and rest the stock on the stove for ten minutes.
Line a fine-mesh strainer with cheesecloth and set it over a heat-resistant container large enough to hold the liquid contents of the pot. Carefully ladle the stock from the pot into the strainer, leaving any cloudy liquid at the bottom of the pot. Discard the solids.
Confit Egg yolks
6 egg yolks
Preheat a fan assisted oven to 65°C
Separate the egg yolks from the whites
Submerge the yolks in an oven-proof saucepan filled halfway with olive oil
Place in the oven for 55 minutes
Remove the yolks with a slotted spoon. Take care to keep the yolk whole so diners get the pleasure of breaking the yolk themselves.
Grilled Wild Mushrooms
400g mixed variety of wild mushrooms – prepare by trimming and cleaning.
At the restaurant, we use a sieve placed over hot coals, but you can fry the mushrooms in a saucepan.
Once there is some colour on the mushrooms, transfer to the warm mushrooms stock.
1 tbsp white miso paste
Clean and rinse the barley.
Cover with water and add the miso paste.
Bring water up to the boil and then simmer until barley is cooked and not too soft.
Bring all elements together on the plate, starting with the miso barley. Place an egg yolk in the middle (seasoned with salt), ladle out the mushrooms from the broth and pour some the stock (seasoned with a small amount of sherry vinegar) around the egg. Serve with bread and grilled red peppers.