Not everyone is forever chasing the next big thing. Indeed, there’s bit of a backlash against ‘out with the old’ and we’re increasingly learning to appreciate pre-loved treasures – whether it’s a cherished jumper inherited from our mum, a flea-market jug or (in the case of Joe Allen in London’s theatreland) an entire restaurant.
When the lease was up on the site they’d occupied since 1977, the team behind the always-popular American-style venue decided that (rather than shutting their doors for good or launching an entirely new style of eaterie) they would up sticks and transport everything – from chairs and tables to wood panelling and framed theatre posters – to a new site, just around the corner on Burleigh street.
The menu offers some fab new dishes such as Cornish crab with avocado and Bloody Mary mayonnaise (the equivalent of sewing a few shiny new buttons on that cool vintage cardigan) alongside Joe Allen’s perfectly cooked classics. There’s the ‘secret burger’ (which has never been listed on the menu), the Joe Allen hot dog and (our favourite…) perfectly tender rib eye steak and fries with béarnaise sauce. The staff have even transported the soul of the place – so there’s the same buzzy, friendly atmosphere (and the piano has come too, of course – no dull generic soundtrack here.)
To celebrate delicious, long-established favourites, Joe Allen’s Head Chef Frans de Wet has shared his recipe for his fab Caesar Salad.
Caesar Salad Recipe
45g block parmesan
100g sourdough bread
40ml extra virgin olive oil
3 cloves of garlic, crushed
45g anchovy fillets
Juice of 1 lemon
500g shop-bought mayonnaise (preferably Hellman’s)
Large handful Cos lettuce leaves
– First make the parmesan crisps. Grate 20g of the parmesan onto a large flat tray and spread out to make one thin layer. Bake in an oven pre-heated to 160 degrees C for around 15-20 minutes until golden, then leave to cool.
– Then make the croutons. Remove the crusts and tear the bread into bitesize pieces. Toss these in the olive oil with two cloves of crushed garlic, and season with salt. Spread out on a large flat baking tray and bake in the oven at 160 degrees C for 20 minutes, until crispy and golden. (Both croutons and parmesan chips can be baked at the same time.)
– To make the salad dressing, puree the anchovy fillets with another 25g grated parmesan, 15ml freshly squeezed lemon juice and one clove of crushed garlic until smooth. Then add mayonnaise to taste and mix.
– In a large bowl, toss the washed, torn lettuce leaves with the croutons in the salad dressing for an even coating, then serve with the parmesan crisps broken and scattered over the top.