I was saddened to read the news of AA Gill’s passing away today. For many his death will go unnoticed, but he was without doubt the most controversial, eloquent and readable Restaurant Critic out there. His style and acerbic wit have often been copied but seldom bettered.
I wonder then what AA would have thought about Kelvin Cheung’s One Street Over. I’m convinced he would have been dismayed by the new age owner’s PR effort on Instagram with hastags galore, witty quotes and close ups of every conceivable sweet brunch you could imagine. The “headlice of civilisation” I hear echoing from his grave…The “gluten-free” and “paleo” dishes would have also been objects of scorn for a man who was not so fascinated by “what we eat” but by “how we eat”. Moreover the rather reserved nature of Mr Cheung might have sat incongruently with a larger than life figure like Mr Gill.
However, times have changed. One Street Over is serving global fare for the modern age and is doing it well. Mr Cheung is riding the wave as the “Coolest Chef in Town”. 30 years back, unless you were Marco Pierre-White, snorting cocaine and having three-somes in the kitchen, it would be risible to think of a cool “working chef” i.e someone running a restaurant and not poncing around on TV. The catering industry was full (and still is) of college drop outs, tattooed geezers, heroin addicts, sociopaths and any other undesirable element of society. From what I see, Mr Cheung has been adorned in society’s golden glitzy robe, surrounded by models (Shilpa Shetty for one), home chefs and fans from every corner of the globe.
“Ship it all in…”
The menu @ One Street Over (the @ is about as close as I get to cool) is a jamboree of just about everything. Clearly, One Street Over is not about rigid hierarchies of “cuisine types” or “cooking styles”, it’s about what tastes good and nearly everything does. The burrata is excellent and up to any Italian restaurant’s standards. The Kale Caesar is crispy, creamy and has a lovely fragrance of lemon (nice idea). The truffle fries are so moreish we have to order another portion. The Kung Pao broccoli is adequately spicy and the chicken variety also well received by my dining partners. I taste the animal burger which again is commendable giving the sourcing constraints of India.
All I have to do now is wait for Restaurant Criticism to have it’s rennaissance and then maybe I’ll be quaffing champagne in Utopia with Mr Cheung
“To every thing there is a season, and a time to every purpose”
In memory of AA Gill, your words and humour will be sorely missed, but never forgotten.