Kench & Bibesy in Farringdon is the newly opened bar/restaurant by the team behind Chelsea’s Evans & Peel Detective agency. During the day it serves EC1’s locals with three sandwiches, soup and salad, but in the evening they serve up a mighty fine cocktail and present you with innovative ‘tapas style’ dishes, locally sourced and offered in season.
The carefully coordinated interior of Kench & Bibesy manages to give an intimate feel to the once industrial space. It’s furnished with recycled and recovered material: old mahogany parquet flooring decorates the bar and kitchen, and tables from a disused hospital and concrete lampshades adorn the space. A spur of the moment project by patron Mr Chris Peel himself – to the delight of Mrs Peel, no doubt.
The menus are brought to us bound in old clipboards along with fresh bread rolls. We have a cocktail to start in the form of the Portuguese Leave – a fresh alternative to the G&T made with white port and tonic. My friend tries the ginger beer-based The Buck Stops Here. These are clever and interesting cocktails, reassuringly more ‘sophisticated date/impress the client’ options rather than ‘hen night’.
The small dishes range from £5 to £9 each and it is suggested to have three per person. I love steak tartare, so seeing this on the list as slightly seared raises my suspicion. Beautifully presented, a raw quail’s egg on top to pour over and onion and capers to mix in. Fun? Yes. Tasty? Yes, but more Scandinavian in style – then again the dish titles are often merely a punning pointer anyway: ‘All carrot… No schtick’, indeed multi-coloured carrots. ‘The Return of the Tail’, oxtail with roast potato, cabbage and pickled grapes: possibly the most traditional dish of all.
The Belly-pops presented with squash/bramley apple purée (pork belly deep-fried on a stick) were easy to eat but slightly dry and I wanted more apple to liven-up the purée. Still, heaven for a fussy eater like my dinner companion. My absolute favourite was the pigeon on barley with chocolate, nuts and berries. This warm autumnal dish mixes sweet and savoury, balancing the chocolate with the tanginess of the fruit. Accompanying all this was a lovely Spanish Bilbao; an easy red that doesn’t compromise on flavour.
Having two dessert options is fine by me: I like short menus. It gives me faith that what is offered is fresh and will be done well. The first option is pear with toasted oats and smoked pear and vanilla ice cream, and second comes a fermented chocolate pot, fermented in a good way: it adds depth and was so popular my dinner companion could not let go of the dish.
After dinner, find the cocktail bar downstairs and just try not to be impressed by the way it is hidden! The bar is well stocked, the barman knowledgeable and it is clear that there is a lot of love and enthusiasm poured into his place. The team runs like clockwork, so if you are looking for an evening with a fancy twist: Kench & Bibesy will show you a good time.
Kench & Bibesy
50 -52 Long Lane
Tel: 0207 796 3631