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Discover a Soho speakeasy

 

It’s well worth seeking out this Soho speakeasy says Miranda Thompson…

 

If you’re looking for a modern twist on the classic Soho cocktail bar, Company Below is just the ticket.

 

 

Tucked away down a twisting staircase beneath Balls & Company, a meatball specialist where they do complicated ‘balls’ (pork, ricotta, or salmon and dill) with luscious ‘company’ (burrata, spaghetti) , Company Below is the dimly-lit, cool basement bar accompaniment to the buzzing bistro above.

 

 

Tendrils of greenery trail across the bar – packed with specialist spirits – the lights are low and the music is pumping (but not rowdily so). And whether you’re looking for a pre-dinner drink or an evening of cocktails, you’ve come to the right place.

 

The drinks menu, which comprises a wine list and herbal-based cocktails, is concise, intriguing, and well worth working your way through. Perched on high stools at the bar – although there are tables – we watched the bartenders concoct a seasonally appropriate Evergreen with sake, fir tree liqueur, walnut butter, lemon and egg white, and shake up a Smoke Without Fire, with spirit-of-the-moment mescal, chipotle and rhubarb.

 

You can’t visit Company Below without sampling a couple (or all of) its moreish bar snacks: think parmesan chruros with labneh and thyme honey, gooey squid ink arancini with aioli and chorizo crumb (see recipe below) and thick-cut polenta chips with rosemary salt, ideally accompanied by a spiced rum and rose water Vane’s Decline (pictured).

 

The main event, however, is the Company Bao – preferably the juicy shortrib sandwiched between crunchy/soft buns with pickles and salted chilli mayo, though vegetarians can opt for a tofu and peanut chilli version. Start with the savoury and finish with the sweet: the brown butter pecan ice cream bao with milk chocolate and praline is absolutely delicious.

 

For more information please visit ballsandcompany.london

 

Founder and Head Chef of Balls & Company Bonny Porter has kindly shared the recipe for their delicious squid ink arancini recipe…

 

 

 

Squid Ink Arancini with Aioli & Chorizo Crumb – Extended Recipe

 

Parmesan Stock

150g parmesan rind

2L water, cold

10g black peppercorn

1 brown onion, sliced

 

Method

1 Place all ingredients in a pot and bring to the boil.

 

2 Reduce to simmer for 1 hour.

 

 

Risotto

150g unsalted butter

1 brown onion, finely chopped

3 garlic cloves, minced

400g Arborio rice

400ml white wine

1.1L parmesan stock, heated on stove

90g parmesan cheese, grated

2 sachets squid ink

 

Method

1 Melt butter in a pan and add onion and sweat on a medium heat until translucent.

 

2 Add garlic and Arborio rice and stir to coat.

 

3 Pour in white wine and stir until evaporated.

 

4 Add 2 cups stock and continue to stir until absorbed.

 

5 Continue to add stock and stir 1 cup at a time until rice is soft with a slight bite.

 

6 Turn out into a tray, cover with baking paper and refrigerate until cool.

 

 

Arancini

200g plain flour

3 eggs

300ml milk

500g panko breadcrumbs

 

Method

1 Roll the risotto into 30g balls

 

2 In one bowl place the flour, in another the milk and eggs – whisk to combine, and in the last bowl half the panko crumbs.

 

3 Toss a ball in the flour, transfer to the milk/egg mixture, then roll in the panko crumbs.

 

 

Aioli

1 egg yolk

1 tsp Dijon mustard

1 tbsp lemon juice

1 garlic clove, minced

500mL rapeseed oil

 

Method

1 Place yolk, mustard, lemon juice & garlic in a blender.

 

2 Slowly drizzle to oil in whicl e blending to emulsify.
3 Season with salt.

 

 

Chorizo Crumb

1 chorizo, peeled and roughly chopped

2 sprig thyme, picked.

 

Method

1 Blitz the chorizo and thyme in a blender to a small crumble.

 

2 Cook on a low heat until cooked through. Cool.

 

 

To Serve

1 Fry the arancini in oil until golden

 

2 Season with salt.

 

3 Garnish with a small dollop of aioli with a pinch of chorizo crumb.

 

By Miranda Thompson

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