There's little more exciting than a new restaurant that also promises top notch cocktails in London - we already have so many wonderful places but I'm always interested in new restaurants too. So I popped down to the newly opened (they still had the door locked when I arrived!) Bull in a China Shop in Shoreditch a couple of weeks ago to check out their whisky cocktails and oriental influenced food menu. Bull in a China Shop is the second offering from brothers Stephen and Simon Chan who already own The Drunken Monkey dim sum bar further down Shoreditch High Street.
As excited as I was, I was also a little nervous - I'm not the biggest whisky fan. I don't dislike it, but I just don't drink it that often. When I have tried it I've always been pleasantly surprised so I'm always up for it, especially in cocktails made by real whisky lovers as they must know what they're doing! I started with the Apricot High Ball - a mix of Nikka whisky, apricot jam, apricot brandy and soda. As I sat enjoying my cocktail and waiting for my friends to arrive I chatted to Daniel who talked me through the whisky offering at Bull in a China Shop. The whiskies served in the bar have been sourced from Scotland and Japan and include such rare bottles that they are literally one of a kind - filled with whisky from now defunct distilleries that will never produce whisky again. Shots of these special whiskies, such as the Karuizawa 1981, retail at around £40 a pop. Expensive, but when you think that it is the last bottle of this whisky in the world then it all comes into perspective. Others are so rare that they're named by their cask number - Hanyu 2000, Cask #921 costs £25 a shot.
We weren't there just to drink.... As it was the opening week the menu was slightly different to what it is now, but the key offerings remain the same.
We started with nibbles that aren't on the menu - pressed chicken on top of crunchy charcoal brioche with a green herb sauce - absolutely delicious, so do ask for these if you go!
Then it was on to the menu proper - the signature dish of the restaurant is panko crusted chicken burger with pickled ginger and mayonnaise, served in a charcoal bun. The chicken was delicious and juicy and worked really well with the ginger. The buns are made with charcoal as it is said to pull toxins from the body.
The other signature dish is rotisserie chicken. At Bull in a China Shop the chicken's brined in ginger and then marinated overnight in Asian yoghurt before being finished with a Nikka whisky glaze. That's one of the things that's so great about this place is that they incorporate a lot of the drinks they serve in the food menu. The chicken was heavenly, sweet and full of flavour with an excellent charred skin.
We also tried the cauliflower cheese fritters, that are far too tasty - I know they can't be healthy!!
And a selection of the salads, which were much more healthy, my favourite of which was charred cauliflower, fennel, cox apple and blood orange!
We rounded it off with another cocktail - the Nippon Express this time - Nikka whisky from the barrel, yuzu sake, June liqueur and fresh orange. I think I preferred this cocktail as it was sharper than the other one, but still very potent!
As I mentioned, I loved how the drinks offered are used in the food menu, and Bull in a China Shop are taking this a step further by doing a monthly set of weekend events of whisky tasting menus where they'll pair a whisky with a whisky inspired menu - think Nikka whisky from the barrel paired with Nikka duck breast prosciutto, confit salmon with a Nikka whisky glaze and charcoal brioche bread pudding with Nikka soaked raisins. They're looking to alternate between peated whisky and non peated whisky events.
To find out more about these events, check out BIACS twitter, as their website isn't quite up and running yet! And if you like really good chicken, delicious salads and whisky, then get yourself down there ASAP!