GinGin : 4 New Regent Street
Luke Dawkins is a man who sucks the juice out of life and lives every inch of his aesthetic, quirky personality and infectious nature. We met about 2 years ago when I walked into GinGin Victoria Street; him on one side of the bar and me the other; sounds like the beginning of a joke, but it ain’t.
I was so overwhelmed by the many bottles of gin; I got a bit giddy and in a kerfuffle. So, taking the reins, he, confidently asked, ‘well, what d’ya feel like?’
The ahah moment!
So, I tested this eccentric geezer and asked for something salty, savoury and dry. I wasn’t disappointed with the triple filtered, juniper loaded, seaweed-based Welsh gin; back of the throat savoury finish cocktail that appeared a little while later. Confidently divine, very quickly, I realised, this squire was well versed, deep in his alchemy.
In one sip, I was nostalgically transported back to my roots and holidays in the UK’s many weirdly named, coastal towns. The briny beaches of Bognor Regis, the oyster shells of Whitstable Bay; the ‘chavs’ of Skegness. Hot and crispy, deep fried scampi with portions of salt and vinegar chips. Greasy handfuls of over salted popcorn in the driving rain and loads of laughter with my mates – bunking school. All in one chilled glass – thanks England for the Summers!
Now that is magic. And Luke is a gin sorcerer indeed, defining his very own signature elixir in every glass.
I was and am a fan, if this man is selling magic, then I’m all in, with a handful of shrapnel to pay my way.
Since then, GinGin closed its doors on Victoria and is now a beautifully curated joint at the top of New Regent Street. Number 4 to be precise. Before you even reach the doors, you can feel the Squire-dom of Luke’s creativity, style and flair.
With a friend dropping into town at the last minute, the group informally know as ‘Circus’ (no monkey’s or clowns just ring leaders), decided to spend a good amount of time giggling and nibbling through the menu of this newly opened establishment and I found myself ‘out, out!’ Even though I wasn’t even going out!
I could bang on about the gorgeous fit out, but to be honest, I just want to talk about GinGin’s menu and how fucking divine it all is. So, let’s not waste any more time aye and crack the hell on!
As soon as you arrive, I would highly suggest you order a plate of ‘Peter Gunns’ chilled cos lettuce, palm sugar, chilli and bonito vinegar.
Ooooh served crunchy and crisp on a bed of ice. The lettuce wakes your taste buds up, ready to receive the combination of sweet, hot and sour… OMG essence of deliciousness to the days. After a plate like this, your mouth is ready for anything… well…. don’t quote me on that!
Next… ooh she’s on a roll.
From the pizzas, grab a side of the stracciatella, fermented chilli, garlic and lemon.
Hot, crispy, pizza oil juice running down your fingers. Sipping gin on the side to cool it all down……. Stop it! STOP IT!
For theatre and magic, this, dish, this dish, this dish….
Because I always have to try chicken on a menu; to be honest, I just can’t go past it, we also ordered the grilled chicken thigh skewers, egg yolk and mushroom soy.
Chargrilled to the point of almost bitterness, but tender, soft and juicy on the stick. And when you lightly beat the yolk into the soy sauce and wipe through the sauce with chunks of those caramelised nuggets of chicken, you hit a decadent, rich balance (on your toes mate) of flavours only a seasoned chef could produce. Simple, but bloody beautiful.
To keep up with the ‘Joneses’, the ‘Gravity Fishing’ plate of cured fish tostada, corn and brown butter dressing,
reminds us that even though, at the moment, we’re unable to travel to other countries, Luke and his team have cleverly brought this 5 star, Mexican-Peruvian beauty of a mash-up to us – thanks mate!
Once we’d cleaned up the plates, the evening got a little ‘murky’ for me, with a beaut of a hangover the next day. No worries, I’m heading back pretty soon to find what was left of my head. So, I’ll see you there.
If it’s a warm night, grab a table outside, kick off your sling-backs, watch the world go by in waves of dramatic tram-traffic; theatre pedestrians and the beautiful vibe of being able to sit outside, with your mates in the Central City.
Oh yes, the answer to the question, well, I guess you’ll just have to find out for yourself.
Laters – Jax
4 out of 5 juicy kisses
PS: The gins were exceptional too – the dirtier the better – chin chin.
Pic Credits : PopUp China – Glenn Schuitman