I came across Twist at Crawford recently while reading an article on top 10 new restaurants in London. On the same list were Jinjuu and Portland which are getting a ton of press but I had not heard a thing about Twist and was intrigued. And the menu looked amazing. I booked a table and on the day of our reservation, a great article on Time Out online came out with a raving review and I got even more excited.
My dear friend Fernanda and hubby were visiting from Cali and they also love food. I had suggested Fera where they went for lunch the same day and were blown away and Twist has a very different personality and is relaxed and cute, so was the perfect spot for dinner. I was the first to arrive and chatted a bit with the hostess and watched the chefs in action in the open kitchen. I also stared at the huge legs of jamon exposed proudly on the counter.
I had looked at the menu online several times and knew there were way too many things I wanted to try. But knowing Nanda and hubby well, I was excited they would be game to share loads of different things and explore the menu. Nanda doesn’t eat peppers and the restaurant has the cutest sheet of paper with all sorts of ingredients and what dishes have which for allergy purposes. Since peppers were not on it, the chef marked it up and created one column for her on the spot, a really nice touch.
Service was spectacular the entire night. Christina, the host is very friendly and engaging and our waitress Jenny (sp?) was thoughtful, extremely knowledgeable and efficient. I asked at the beginning of the meal if we would need to leave in two hours like most spots in London and Jenny said not at all, they want people to linger and enjoy and not be rushed. They won our hearts with that, now it was time to win our stomachs… I wanted so badly to love the meal as the restaurant is adorable and service so attentive. But some dishes could use some work, mostly use more seasoning. But Jenny heard our comments and was very open to feedback and said she would share with the chef.
The restaurant is small and charming and got busy as the night went along. Most of the menu was tapas (some larger dishes too) and Jenny suggested around 2-3 per person. But she also suggested we order some and see how we feel and I really appreciate that as people tend to suggest more than we actually need. She was right in this case as we ended up ordering around nine total or 10 d=for the four of us. The tapas combine flavors from Italy, Spain and Japan and a lot of them are prepared in the Josper over, the darling of London restaurants these days and a mix of grill and oven (we tried it at Palomar for the first time last year).
What we ate:
Paleta iberica de Belotta: they describe it as acorn fed black pig – nominated the best jamon in the world and even have little booklets to show us the quality and production details from the producer they import them from. I first tried pata negra at my sister’s place in Paris ages ago and knew it was love at first bite. In Vegas, they couldn’t import pata negra so every time we see it on a menu, Stewart and I get excited. I tend to not order it though as I always feel like we can buy it and eat at home instead in London but the beautiful legs of jamon were staring at us and we all decided we had to have some. We decided to go for the paleta as we had not tried it before. The paleta is the front of the leg and smaller and fattier and after tasting it, we now know we prefer jamon which is the whole leg and has fat more evenly distributed and is more moist.
Toma Piemontese cheese: very creamy, mild and salty but with some sweetness as well. Was served with sliced pears and a nice balsamic reduction and surprisingly, saltine crackers. But it all worked well together and we devoured the whole portion, which was a generous one……
Beetroot cured salmon, yogurt lime: gorgeous plate and some of the salmon slices were very flavorful and good but some were a bit too thick, which made them a but too chewy and fishy.
Char-grilled fresh squid in its own ink: we expected the squid to be in an inky sauce or cream but it was just sitting on top of a brush stroke of ink. It was ok but the head pieces were actually a bit under-cooked and not too appealing. The main part was well cooked and nice but could have used some more seasoning.
Asparagus risotto with grilled scallops: this was one of the specials on their board. They change specials twice a week depending on what is seasonal and fresh and the risotto was delicious. The asparagus velouté was bright and creamy without being too rich and the scallops were perfectly cooked. The only flaw was that it was not as hot as we would have wanted.
Lamb chop scottadito with cumin yoghurt: two nice chops that sadly once again could used a bit of salt but the cumin yoghurt was very tasty and made the dish more exciting. In Italian the word scottadito means burned fingers. This dish is named scottadito because the lamb chops are so delicious that you can’t resist eating them sizzling hot, straight from the grill and burning your fingers.
Skirt steak marinated with garlic, parsley and olive oil: we had high hopes for this dish but the meat was a bit too chewy and once again needed a bit of salt.
Tempura burrata and black figs: we were told this was the chef’s specialty. We hesitated to order despite our love for burrata as deep frying a very rich, creamy cheese reminds us of people who deep fry chocolate bars. But we were told it was great so went for it. Sadly it was a let-down. The tempura was not crunchy and its texture was too similar to the burrata’s and some bites were salty and some devoid of salt. We had other much more successful dishes so maybe they should tell people the risottos or pasta are the chef’s specialties instead?
Homemade fettuccine with chestnuts, mushrooms and shaved black truffle: this was our favourite dish. The fettuccine was clearly homemade and perfectly cooked and tossed in a creamy rich sauce with an abundance of mushrooms. The truffle taste was mellow but balanced. We cleaned this plate to the last bite and would definitely order again.
Fleur de sel chocolate tart: this was the only dessert that tempted us as the other ones include a grilled pineapple, a pannacotta and a berries and yogurt soup. And I am a total sucker for chocolate of course. The tart was delicious, the chocolate rich and velvety and the fleur de sal sprinkles made the chocolate pop even more. We ordered it with two ice cream scoops on the side, pistachio and vanilla. The pistachio was creamy and good but the vanilla was sadly awful. It is hard to screw vanilla but it had no vanilla or sweetness taste and was very icy – tasted like frozen milk. We told Jenny and she appreciated the feedback and said she would pass it along and removed it from our bill.
In sum: I wanted so badly to love Twist as the staff is fantastic and the place is totally adorable but sadly the food lacked seasoning to the most part. But I would go back in a month or so and give it another try as I truly believe the chef is very talented and on to something, and it is just a matter of tweaking some small things and making it great.
Twist at Crawford http://www.twistkitchen.co.uk/
42 Crawford Street, London W1H 1JW +4420 7723 3377
We were seated upstairs which we tend to prefer but the downstairs area is also very cute (we checked it out as the bathrooms are downstairs).