Restaurant Review: Yolk London at The Duke of Wellington, Dalston in London
Much like how a yolk nestles in the centre of its egg, pop-up restaurant Yolk London is blobbed right in the heart of Dalston’s The Duke of Wellington pub. This resident kitchen has been primed, poached and is good for a poking with a sharp blade, ready to spill out onto something greater.
Yolk London has a six month residency here and is but a few months into it, having pioneered local markets and stalls, before testing out how the local pub-goers like their eggs. Nick, the founder of Yolk, likes his Buford Brown’s bar-boiled in their shells at sixty-three degrees then cooled in an ice bath and served without their whites. If you were wondering.
Nick explains that he is the only chef to be in the kitchen today as all other staff members have hung up their aprons and cleared off to Glastonbury to trudge through puddles. “Bastards”, he jests. The evening becomes an intimate dinner party for three, with Nick tending to our every need, cooking our food and acting as waitor whilst the real waitresses and waitors keep a safe distance. A quick gawp at the Yolk’s Instagram page on my commute over was enough to cement my menu choices already, which were then politely backed up by Nick.
A chorizo scotch egg soon arrived along with pig cheek goujons and sage mayonnaise. We hatched the scotch egg and watched on as the two halves fell backward like turtles on their shells. A soft yolky centre poured out, melting a yellowed pool around those crusts, eventually thinning as it spread across the wooden boards upon which it was served. The goujons broke in my hand and the tender cheeks, as is meant to be with pigs cheeks, melted leaving behind a coating of sage mayonnaise upon my tongue. Pale green in colour, but perhaps a little thin for how mayonnaise should be.
Another dish joined the party before we had finished the first offerings. This was the menu’s newest addition of sriracha wings. They hung over a clay bowl in the way that burlesque star Dita Von Teese would drape her legs over the edge of a champagne glass. (I mean that as a compliment to the wings and not an insult to Dita.) Each wing was sprinkled with sesame seeds and rewarded a kick of miso with each nibble. I say nibble because, much like the typical burlesque star, there wasn’t too much meat on these pins. However, their flavour was abundant, tempting and moreish.
Next came Yolk’s signature main of confit duck bun with pulled meat, smoked aoili, onion jam and, most importantly, a runny yolk sat waiting like a falcon on top of its nest. Waiting, I had assumed, for me to inevitably jab the bright bubble and enjoy it burst and ooze as my friend videoed the eruption. Watching it spill down the sides of the bun is all part of the enjoyment. It’s sticky and messy, all the things you’d want from a place that pioneers comfort food.
As the rare British sun beat outside, it seems a little untimely to be eating a macaroni and cheese for our other main. Mac and cheese is considered by many to be the ultimate comfort food dish, as would be fitting with the ideology of Yolk, but leaves you in an uncomfortable sweat during the summer as you haul bites of steaming pasta into your mouth. The mac and cheese was creamy with strings of milky cheese clinging on to each forkful I pronged and pulled to my chin. It is a welcome vegetarian option to the menu, but certainly not the star of the show.
Although a little out of place in its current location, Yolk London is definitely a little discovery that is worth indulging. Its championing of comfort food and quality snacking is a welcome addition to Dalston, mostly because its menu has only a suggestion of hipsterification. There was no mention of clean eating or a lacking of gluten, which is just the way I like my pigs cheeks. With a little tweaking and a switch of location, this golden nugget of a kitchen could go a long way. I must go back and try their brunch.
Yolk will be taking their residency at The Duke of Wellington until September 2016.
Address: Yolk London, The Duke of Wellington, 119 Balls Pond Rd, London N1 4BL / 020 7275 7640