RedFarm is an American import that popped up in Covent Garden back in September 2018. A huge hit in New York, RedFarm has had a slower start in London. I’m ashamed to say that if until we were invited down, I hadn’t heard of it. Now that we have, I know it’s going to be a favourite spot for us in London.
RedFarm’s interior is fresh with a rustic farmhouse edge. The décor has the classic white brick, green flourishes and gingham fabrics that are synonymous with its NY sisters (There are two branches in NYC Upper West Side and West Village). A sharing table runs the entire length of the ground floor (there are three floors of the restaurant). Encouraging diners to chat to their neighbours and share thoughts on the food. For those preferring a little more privacy when dining, there are raised and lower booths that comfortably seat couples and groups of four.
Happily perched in our tall booth right at the front of the restaurant, we both ordered a Tropical Storm. Rum Java, Coconut Puree, Lychee Juice and Passionfruit Juice served in a glass wrapped in banana leaf and topped with ice and fruit.
The restaurant had chosen our plates in advance, so that we could try as many of their speciality dishes as possible. Ben’s fish allergy was taken into account, so we each tried slightly different versions of the dishes.
Chef Joe Ng takes a playful approach to both sophisticated and well-known flavours. I had never tried a soup dumpling before setting foot in RedFarm, but it’s become an iconic dish well-loved at the restaurant. We started with Spicy Crispy Beef, Crab and Pork Soup Dumpling (for me) and the Truffle Chicken Soup Dumpling for Ben. I had a straw in my dumpling to aid drinking the soup, before dunking it in a soy sauce and eating it whole. Traditionally, you bite a small tear in the dumpling before sucking the soup out and eating the dumpling. Definitely an interesting moment for first timers!
The Spicy Crispy Beef is made with tenderloin strips rather than the traditional minced meat, to give a better flavour and texture. I think this was my favourite dish of the meal and something I know I’m going to be craving until I next get a chance to have it again!
Our next course was genius. Pac Man Dumplings; the red contained prawn, lobster and ginger. The yellow – prawn, curry and mushrooms. Blue – prawn, king crab and coriander. The white – prawn and bamboo shoots (my favourite). All served with a fried sweet potato and guacamole. The Cheeseburger Spring Roll is another dish that the restaurant is best known for. In the words of our server ‘It really shouldn’t work, but it does. Wait until you try it!’ He was right. A deliciously crisp spring roll, filled with minced beef and cheese with a house burger sauce and pickles.
First cocktails finished, we were offered a second, so decided to try two very different ones. Yo Matcha containing Panerea Island Gin, Matcha tea Cordial, Peach Liquor and Lemon juice. Not typically a fan of Matcha, I thought I would give it a go. Actually, it’s a very light Matcha flavour but a very refreshing cocktail. Ben chose the Mr. Greenman, which he ended up swapping with my Yo Matcha. Virtuous Vodka, Midori, Kiwi Syrup and Ms Better’s Bitters blended together to create a sour, vibrant green cocktail that matched the novelty of the dishes.
Completely full by this point, we had one more savoury course to go. Three Chilli Chicken and Chinese Steamed Vegetables. The chicken was hot with the chillis, but had a soft texture and a sweet taste. The steamed vegetables were a great accompaniment.
Our final course is the only pudding on the menu. The Custard Bao. Possibly the strangest pudding I’ve ever eaten. The powdery Bao is baked with pastry rather than steamed (as it would be traditionally cooked). The custard is served in a liquid format to fill the entire Bao rather than in a thicker format.
RedFarm is such a fantastic spot in Covent Garden. If you’re heading on a first date, this would be the ultimate spot. Food to talk about and communal tables to take the pressure off, along with delicious cocktails to get the conversation flowing. If you’re around at the weekend, you may want to try RedFarm’s Champagne and Dim Sum Brunch on a Sunday from 11.45-7pm. For £60, you receive repeat orders of some of the restaurant’s favourite dishes, with continuous refills of Collet Champagne to wash it down. Or for £40, you can ditch the champagne and have the Dim Sum and soft drinks instead.
After filling up on Dim Sum and cocktails, take a walk through Covent Garden to see the incredible new Autumnal Pumpkin Display and listen and watch the numerous performers in the square.