Restaurants get all fired up about cooking with wood
10th July 2017
Dalby Firewood has been chosen to supply the high-quality cooking wood demanded by two of London’s pioneering new ‘real-fire’ restaurants. Both Flat Iron in Shoreditch and Martello Hall in Hackney have embraced the joys of cooking over a naked flame – each taking a different approach to attract the capital’s discerning restaurant goers.
For its new restaurant in Shoreditch, Flat Iron installed a custom-built, two-metre wide spit roaster, which is rotated by a reclaimed 250-year-old clock mechanism. Every day, the restaurant slowly cooks huge hunks of beef on its showpiece rotisserie, before carving up the portions for finishing on the embers of the fire. It’s a style of cooking that retains the succulence of the meat and creates mouth-watering flavours, as founder Charlie Carroll explains: “The flavour is like nothing else: the fat is sweet, there’s a little smokiness but not too much, and the slow-cooking technique means it’s extremely moist.”
Watching your steak being expertly cooked on such a colossal spit roaster makes for a theatrical dining experience – but the success of the cooking relies heavily on the quality of wood used.
When the supplier originally chosen to provide wood for the restaurant was unable to deliver a consistent quality of wood, Flat Iron discovered Dalby Firewood online. The restaurant wanted to use purely oak logs, because of the flavour it imparts to the beef and for its steady, even burning properties, with minimal flame – which is ideal for slow cooking. Dalby now provides regular deliveries of 50cm oak logs, which are specially cut for the restaurant.
Martello Hall – Italian-inspired delights
Over in Hackney, Martello Hall built its restaurant around a beautiful new Italian pizza oven from Modena. As the centrepiece of the restaurant, it is used to cook around 80% of Martello Hall’s Italian-inspired dishes.
Darren Rumbelow, Operations Director at Martello Hall, says: “It’s a stunning piece of kit, and the natural wood fire really enhances the aesthetic of the restaurant. Customers can watch their meals being cooked and marvel at the incredible skill of our chefs.”
Pizza is Martello Hall’s speciality, but the restaurant also offers a varied menu that changes regularly, including dishes such as roast chicken, frittata, meatballs and a range of breads. Cooking in the wood-fired oven requires great skill, as it reaches temperatures of 400°C and can cook a pizza in just two minutes. That means it’s very easy to over or undercook the food – and is the reason Martello Hall employs highly experienced chefs. Pizza cooked in a wood-fired oven is still quite rare in London, and its special flavour is one of the reasons Martello Hall has become so popular since it opened in December 2016.
Darren says: “Before we opened the restaurant, I was tasked with finding a wood supplier that could provide reliable quantities of very dry, high-quality hardwood. Dalby Firewood met all our requirements, providing competitively priced wood of the right quality and size. We initially tried a number of different woods, but have settled on Dalby Gold, which is kiln-dried ash, as the best choice for our oven. We’ve recently had to increase the quantity of wood we buy, which is testament to the popularity of our food and of wood-fired cooking in London.”