Giles Coren

‘Out of BERTHA’s belly came some really good stuff…’ Giles Coren

Giles Coren reviewed the BERTHA oven in the Times Magazine Supplement on July 11th 2015. Below are some excerpts from the piece:

‘My friend Alan was sitting in the open window with a tiny glass of some very rare summer ale in front of him. I sat down and asked a waiter for the same and another one for Al.

We sank 30 or 40 of them and then moved to the bar in the wooden-floored and white-tiled interior, directly opposite a huge pale-green wood oven called BERTHA.’

“It’s like a Josper except British,” said a nice hipster chef in a baseball cap. “And it burns wood as well as charcoal.”

I was about to say that was the hippest thing I had ever heard, until he added, “It was made in Wimbledon.” And suddenly it was the most bourgeois thing I had ever heard. You see? Hipsterdom is going over. Wimbledon, indeed.

Out of BERTHA’s glowing belly (she roared insided like the very forge of Vulcan) came some extremely good stuff. We had rare slices of deer haunch, smoky-ferrous and purple, served with veal bones split lengthways so as to dress the lean meat of the wild beast with the rich marrow fat of the farmed. Clever Hip. This with a sharp watercress and caper salad and some superb chips – the only fried thing on the menu. And hefty kofte kebabs made from venison and goat meat served with flatbread, harissa and yoghurt.

Previous to that we’d had tender, gently grilled little roundels of octopus on a plate studded with pungent aioli blobs and chickpeas, and some young leeks slowly roasted in ash that shoed great depth and fruitiness under a lentil and tarragon dressing. And best of all a handful of seared duck hearts on toast with the deglazing sherry juices drizzled over them.

So there you go. A long bar in Notting Hill with two hipsters and a Wimbledon-made wood oven behind it, banging out good cuts of wild and domesticated meat, fish and fowl…’