If you’ve been to Moxon’s the East Dulwich fishmongers of some repute, then your next stop is Next Door, the fish restaurant next door where Moxon’s knowledge of fish and seafood is combined to bring the freshest produce from the sea to your table, writes Michael Holland.
I was having dinner with my mum, who I know likes a good bit of fish, and who I knew would love Next Door.
The restaurant is bijou, packed with tiny tables that are largely incapable of containing too many of the small plate offerings most people desire, and the spaces between these tables are for the size zero to slim. Luckily our server fitted nicely as she flitted about fetching water and talking us through the day’s specials. She recommended 5 small plates as a good average between two, so we set about choosing that number from an excellent menu. From the wine list I chose a Tokaji, a really nice, dry Hungarian delight that went well with all the fish dishes, but, alas, could not cope with the sweetness of the desserts towards the end, which is no fault of the wine. Plus, the sommelier gave me a timely reminder of my mispronunciation by praising me for my ‘excellent choice of Tokaji’, while not pronouncing the silent J. Nicely done, Sir.
The first of our selection to arrive was Pickled Herring, an old favourite of Mum’s and not half as vinegary as what we used to buy in the Jewish delis of old. This classic was updated with additions of smoked roe, celeriac and a dill and mustard sauce that transported the fish from 1970s Whitechapel to 21st century East Dulwich.
Next was Grilled Mackerel with Sweet Potato Gnocchi, a good twist on the Italian staple that came with capers, sage, spinach and oyster sauce, and which was quickly followed by Grilled Rye King Scallops with Chilli in Seaweed Butter. The scallops were absolutely divine; so divine I was tempted to lift the shell to my lips to lap up the juices, but the lovely bread we had was ideal for mopping up, and saved me from a clip round the ear for bad table manners…
Conversation had almost come to a halt by now as we indulged ourselves in all this fantastic fish. There was the occasional slurp and lip-smacking, and a ‘Hmmm,’ between mouthfuls, and a ‘Awww, ain’t those scallops good?’ But in the main we worked our way quietly through an ocean of epicurean heaven.
Mum had seen a TV chef cooking monkfish in the week so we had Next Door’s version, which was better than anything ITV ever cooked up, and then, surprise, my Green Salad finally arrived! I wasn’t sure if this had been forgotten or they were merely waiting for some space to appear on our overladen table. Even so, it was something I’d wanted to enjoy as a side with all the dishes and not alone near the end.
Finally our Cornish Crab Risotto, Sorrel, Tomato and Parmesan landed. You could really taste the sea in this bowl of rich rice, and as nice as it was we could not finish something so opulent at this stage of the meal, although if it had been served earlier I’m sure it would’ve been devoured with vigour.
To finish off, Mum had the Lemon Tart and I the Rhubarb Possett, and they seemed to be the perfect end to a great meal.
The beauty of Next Door is that the fish is simply cooked but the ingredients and work that goes in to what accompanies that fish makes it a very special place. Next Door is a must for all fish fanciers; definitely one for Rotherhithe foodies Lee and Torsten to try if they’ve not been before…
Moxon’s Next Door, 151 Lordship Lane, SE22 8HX
020 3659 1413 – www.moxonsnextdoor.com
Kitchen: Tues – Fri 12 – 3pm/6 – 9.30pm; Sat 12 – 9.30pm; Sun 12 – 4pm
Food 4.5 Stars
Value 4 Stars
Ambience 3.5 Stars
Disabled Access Yes
Disabled Toilet No