Dishes from one of London's most innovative chefs
In 2010 he moved on again, starting the restaurant North Road in Clerkenwell. He told us ‘I felt ready to do something a bit better and maybe aim for a star, which I had always wanted to achieve.’ After only ten months heading up North Road, Christoffer Hruskova was awarded a Michelin star. He says: ‘It was something we were working towards obviously, but it was still a big surprise.’
The kitchen at North Road used ingredients sourced entirely from Britain – its land and coastal waters. Jay Rayner wrote at the time: ‘No olive oil or olives. No tomatoes or bulb garlic. No chocolate in the desserts. He is more likely to season with vinegars than salts, to rely on smoking and pickling and leave ingredients raw where possible. The result is subtle and, for being unusual, intriguing.’ Christoffer Hruskova says of this decision: ‘I think you challenge yourself by limiting yourself and your chefs – it makes you more creative. We used lots of foragers and only small producers, we got really top notch stuff. Sometimes the dishes made themselves – I guess that can be the case when you have good stuff coming in.’
The highly seasonal, Scandinavian-inspired menu included starters such as Sweet cicely parfait with sea buckthorn and carrots, and Pickled mackerel with buttermilk snow, cucumber and dill. Noted mains ranged from Beef fillet in burnt hay with smoked bone marrow, salt baked and raw beetroot, to Wild turbot, burnt white asparagus and berries. Desserts included plates such as Millet porridge, oat crumble and milk ice cream, and reinterpretations of classic Danish sweets such as ‘Øllebrød’ with apple and salted caramel and Jellied ‘koldskål’ with green strawberries, liquorice ice cream and dill.
The Guardian at the time described the koldskål as ‘cool and light and tasted sublimely foreign’, continuing ‘you genuinely feel you're getting a glimpse of something new. There's an austerity, cleanness and clarity to this kind of cooking.’ Christoffer Hruskova told us: ‘North Road was amazing because I got to do what I really wanted with my food and the whole Nordic way with food as well. It was a fantastic time when I was there, absolutely.’
He left North Road in 2012 and worked as a restaurant consultant, helping set up venues in New York and Moscow. In 2013 he opened a pop-up at the restaurant, Verden, in Clapton. His signature style – ‘Nordic cuisine with British ingredients’ – was still in evidence and ingredients included foraged treats such as unripe elderberries, sea beets, samphire and wild garlic.
He is currently working with Per Brun, the founder of Emmerys – a bakery Chris Hruskova helped him establish when he lived in Denmark. Currently on the hunt for a site in London, they plan to open a bakery called Bread Station, selling sourdough loaves, authentic Danish rye bread and classic Danish pastries. They’ll be selling raw sourdough as well, so you can bake it at home – without the hassle and commitment of keeping a starter going. A line of ice creams made with foraged ingredients is also rumoured.
He told us there is a new restaurant in the works too. He says the food will be similar to that at North Road, but there might be a little more flexibility when it comes to ingredients: ‘There are these sea urchins found north of Norway and they are just amazing. You can get some sea urchins from Jersey, but they are not quite as good because I think the waters are too warm. But I have had abalone down in Jersey which was fantastic – I haven’t seen anyone using local abalone in London before. We are probably going to go a little further out from the UK, but not too far. It’s going to be a very similar philosophy of using local, which is the main thing.’
We asked Christoffer Hruskova what it is that he still likes about working with food and why he continues to dedicate his life to it: ‘I love that you can make food that other people enjoy – I think that is amazing. When you go foraging and you see all of the great things that you can use, it never gets boring. For yourself and your team, you need to make it exciting and move forward all the time. I think that is what is so great about this business – you never need to do the same thing and stand still, you can explore. I think that is what is exciting about food and what keeps me going.’