FtLion Awards 2017: Best Main of the Year?

After the #FtLionAwards 2017 Best Starter of the Year (sponsored by Smoky Boys BBQ & Grill Haus), we continue with the Best Main of the Year category.

After much debate and dialogue, we’ve shortlisted the following 10 nominees.

And while you marvel over these amazing mains, remember that not only can you also vote for your favourite on our Instagram and Facebook pages, but in doing so you’ll automatically be entered in our prize draw with the chance of winning a £30 voucher to be spent at any of Smoky Boys three locations – Watford, Amersham and Hounslow.

SHORTLIST – Best Mains of the Year

We want you to either: 1) vote for the following nominees, or 2) let us know both your favourite main and the place you had it, all on our Facebook and/or Instagram pages.

FtLion Awards 2017 Smoky Boys Main Chai Wu Duck

Beijing Duck – Traditional Beijing duck can be enjoyed in a variety of options (below), £78

Having already secured a nomination for Best Starter of the Year, Chai Wu’s Beijing Duck was undoubtedly the evening’s showstopper and its pièce de résistance. Even its arrival and presentation had a sense of theatre to it with a beautifully shiny, chocolate-coloured whole duck being carried shoulder high to our table by an immacutely dressed chef who, using a white handkerchief to support this large bird, proceeded to expertly carve it into slices. This style of carving is, in fact, the traditional way of serving duck in that region, with the cook doing the honours of preparing it for the customer. For us, it was a rare privilege of experiencing this in person and one we’d like to take the opportunity here in thanking Chai Wu for. Once carved up and presented with a variety of vegetable condiments and five sauces, with the idea being to build, using either the steamed pancakes or the Mantou buns, a wrap to your taste and liking. And what fun it was too given the number of possible combinations.

FtLion Awards 2017 Smoky Boys Main Drunch Chicken

Cumbrian Chicken with Sweet Potato Puree, Croquette & Girolles Mushrooms £17

Again, Drunch’s second nomination following their beverage entry, what a tremendous, absolutely tremendous bird this was! Firstly, the tenderest, most succulent chicken breast imaginable with a crispy skin rested atop a bed of kale and a silky smooth sweet potato puree base, all surrounded by a Girolles Mushroom sauce. So believe us when we say that the intense sweetness of said puree perfectly married with the meaty-cum-earthy mushroom sauce. And despite a crispy, well made Croquette raising questions over its extraneity, this was still our dish of the review. Don’t think; order!

FtLion Awards 2017 Smoky Boys Main Grand Trunk Road Lamb Shank

Lucknow Ki Nihari – Slow-cooked lamb shanks in an aromatic sauce – flavour of 18th century, £18.95

Dear Lord; with the very first bite, we knew for certainty that we were in the presence of perfection! This exceptionally cooked Lamb Shank was masterfully reproduced from an 18th century recipe rediscovered during Rajesh Suri’s and Chef Sharma’s long fact-finding food odyssey along the iconic Grand Trunk Road. Collected and preserved, this decadent Lucknow Ki Nihari was presented in all its original glory by a chef at the peak of his powers. A master conductor, in fact, who played out a symphony of spices that opened with mellow notes of subtle sweetness, which gave way to varying degrees of heat and piquancy, before tailing off into a warm and blissful spicy sonata. This was a masterclass of balancing complex spices to produce the most luxurious version of a Nihari we’ve ever had the pleasure of trying. An absolute triumph and a dish that epitomises the meaning of the phrase: “Old is gold!”

FtLion Awards 2017 Smoky Boys Main Grand Trunk Road Lamb Chops

Peshawar ki Lamb Chops – Best End of Lamb chops, fennel, star anise, raw papaya & gram flour, £24.00

That’s right; a second nomination. Rather than going down the traditional route of a yoghurt-based marination, Chef Sharma opted for an oil-based one for these Lamb Chops. His reasoning was that the latter approach was far more effective in assuring a deeper marination process that not only produced far more juicer chops, but with more flavour too. No doubt, these French-cut Peshawar ki Lamb Chops were on a different level, with the sweetness of the star anise apparent and complimenting the spicy, aromatic marination, and a delicate charring of the exterior that assured a delicate hint of smokiness. These were as soft and as tender as you’d like, and so rich in flavour as to leave us in little doubt of them being some of the best tandoori lamb chops we’ve ever had.

HORAPHA

FtLion Awards 2017 Smoky Boys Main Horapha Sea Bass Fish

Steamed Lemon Fish – Steamed Sea Bass seasoned in sour and spicy sauce with chilli and garlic, £18.95

And here was a sublime dish set before us in the smartest way imaginable by Horapha – a large fish-shaped dish resting atop a cooking heater that continued the process of simmering the broth, which, in turn, intensified the flavours therein. By the end, we were left with a hot stock that had a deeply soothing strong chilli, lemongrass and fish flavour that would be perfect for clearning any congested nasal cavity. As to the fish, then why bother inquiring? Just look at it! Could that be anything other than the softest, moistest most deliciously made Sea Bass you’ve ever had? Nothing more to say other than recommended!

FtLion Awards 2017 Smoky Boys Main Laz Camden Monk Fish

Fener Baligi – Pan fried monkfish, basil mash potato, honey, ginger and lemon sauce. £14.00

The Feber Baligi was easily the dish of the Laz Camden review! What we had here was a lightly seasoned and perfectly pan fried monkfish that was rich in flavour and utterly soft. The gentle heat of the pepper, which came through at the end, was a great touch particularly when had with the sweet butteriness of the softly textured basil mash. A delightful dish from start to finish. RECOMMENDED!

FtLion Awards 2017 Smoky Boys Main Mamounia Lounge Duck

Duck Pastilla – Aromatic spiced Duck Confit wrapped in crispy Faille de Brick pastry. Served on a bed of Spinach with a Prune puree, caramelised Plums and Pistachios, £16.50

Another nomination for Mamounia Lounge. This time its Chef’s Special that left us mightily impressed. Our admiration for this beautifully presented Duck Pastilla was only surpassed by the sheer joy experienced in devouring this gorgeous bird. To our delight, the slow-cooked confit duck turned out to be ever so juicy and flaky. The bed of spinach was the perfect foil against the sweetness of the caramelised plums, while the prune droplets, seemingly intensified in flavour, added an additional level of sweetness that allowed for the distinct taste of the duck meat to come through strongly. Overall, a very satisfying eat and one we’d recommend any day of the week.

FtLion Awards 2017 Smoky Boys Main Mesa Kitchen Lamb Chops

Lamb Chops – Grilled lamb chops served with potato purée, buttered French beans with red onion gravy, £16.90

These mouth-watering French-trimmed lamb chops by Mesa Kitchen were thick and generous in size, steak-esque in stature, and absolutely divine! In fact, these were arguably some of the best chops we’ve had this year. With the juices positively glistening across its perfectly charred surface, not only did these cut like butter to reveal a pink interior, but were of such superior quality and taste as to humble us into a collective state of silent mastication over how truly incredible these really were (even the beautifully rendered fat tasted sweet and satisfying). While you could quite happily devour these alone, our belief in this dish was further reinforced by its accompanying gravy sauce – rich and creamy, buttery and meaty – that went really well with the sweetness imparted by the caramelised red onions smothered over the top. Meanwhile, the mash was soft and buttery, with some texture to it, and well-seasoned.

FtLion Awards 2017 Smoky Boys Main Talli Joe Venison Keema

Parsee Venison Kheema Ghotala – Spicy venison mince scrambled with organic egg yolk, with a side of pao, £8.25

There aren’t many restaurants we know of that do a good kheema dish, let alone an exceptional one. This Parsee Venison Kheema Ghotala by London’s Talli Joe was beyond even that. Owing perhaps to the lean nature of venison and its rich depth of flavour, this spicy-infused mince meat dish was so flavourful that it’s arguably one of the best we’ve had. The addition of the perfectively cooked organic egg yolk not only enhanced its soft, velvety consistency, but gave it a beautiful silky edge. However, if you’re looking to lift this to another level, then be certain to take advantage of the accompanying bowl of red onions and seeded green chillis, especially the latter which, if nibbled on with every mouthful, provides that extreme chilli-earthy kick. Also presented with wonderfully crispy, soft and well-buttered pao, or bap – perfect for scooping clean the plate at the end.

FtLion Awards 2017 Smoky Boys Main Zayane Lamb Shank Tagine

Honey & balsamic glazed lamb shank, prunes & onion puree £16

Zayane’s first nomination is this lamb shank is Chef Joe’s signature dish, and we can understand why. This is, hands down, the best tagine we’ve had in London! An incredible melody of textures and depths of flavour is what made this dish by far and away Zayane’s best of the evening. When you have an expertly cooked lamb shank glistening in a honey and balsamic glaze, meat so tender and soft that it falls off the bone at the merest glance, and a rich and viscous onion puree that’s positively infused with utterly soft, juicy and caramlised prunes, do not under any circumstances rush this. This is one of those that demands respect. This is one of those that needs to be eaten with care and consideration. Compose each forkful in such a way as to ensure equal quantities of each constituent part so as to appreciate its sheer brilliance and truly savour every given mouthful. Outstandingly good and a must try dish!

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