Being over the top can often be seen as a bad thing. Our national cynicism dictates that anything OTT is a bit much, really. Take American service. Plonk your average British person in a US diner, and you’ll soon have a readymade Getty Image for “Overly Friendly Server Makes Insecure Brit Squirm”. We’re weird though. Some things are better owing to the fact that they are over the top. Like Nicolas Cage. Or having a pint before your 6am flight. Or the slap around the face you get when you’re eating something at Scully.
Nothing about Scully seems particularly over the top at first. It’s in St. James’s Market - one of those glassy new developments that sits in the middle of a venn diagram between vaping and unhappiness - but the room itself is tastefully understated. A few jars of ferments here, a bit of Kendrick Lamar there. Nice. Familiar. But then there’s the food.
Scully’s OTT-ness, if there is such a thing, is expressed entirely in its food and flavours. From the moment spiced chickpeas are wordlessly brought to you - both a big yes in our books - your taste buds are standing to attention. Nothing here goes gently into your good mouth. And that’s a positive. Charred pumpkin looks a bit Kew Gardens, but feels, well, whatever Kew Gardens is like on acid. There’s limey bits, a cucumber liquid, and every colour of the rainbow. This isn’t dainty food though. It’s different.
Like all the best over the top things, it can also be fun. Sitting up at the counter, piling aubergine sambal into a sweet arepa pocket, and watching chefs place petals like surgeons, is a laugh. They’ll even acknowledge it. Which is refreshing, though not quite as refreshing as the fermented turnip and short rib. The food here perks you up. And so does the service. This restaurant realises that nothing should match the intensity of the food. So everyone here is friendly and attentive, without ever being over the top. Neither lackadaisical nor worthy of a restraining order. The folks at Scully know what they’re doing.
That’s not to say everything is barnstorming though. Some parts of the Scully experience pale in comparison to others. For example a moody, dimly-lit meal at the bar feels less interesting and less natural in the day. This is very much a night time, couple of drinks, dinner at the counter place. Similarly, once you’ve inhaled the strawberry goats’ cream cheesecake, wept, and mourned its loss, a pineapple tart with bits and bobs suddenly becomes a bit meh. That, though, is the danger when you’ve got big, over the top characters in a room. Just ask anyone who’s worked with Nicolas Cage.
Not on the menu. Given as soon as you sit down. Absolutely delicious. Should be mandatory everywhere in London that serves alcohol. Please action.
A delicious pocket to fill that won’t leave you out of pocket. You won’t spend a tenner on many better things in London.
Like meaty prawn crackers, with a fishy worcestershire sauce. Tasty. And enough to share between three (but possibly too much for two).
Crispy onion bits were our favourite part of this dish, and they weren’t even mentioned. Which sort of says it all.
Like being woken up by having iced water poured over you, then being told you’re going on holiday for two weeks. Surprising and excellent.
Aesthetically, this looks like it could be an Ascot headpiece. It tastes a million times better than a hat though.
Aesthetically, this looks like the sort of thing we imagine we’d make if stranded on a desert island. A tasty curried fish wrapped in a leaf. In reality we’d end up eating rocks.
This beef has been marinading for either 12 hours or 12 days, we can’t quite remember. Either way, it won’t be on the plate for longer than 12 minutes. Deliciously unusual.
If the short rib was Robbie Williams, this is Gary Barlow.
Over the top delicious. This thing should have a blue plaque.
Really quite nice, but, ultimately, the less cool dessert sibling.
Rich, excessive, and entirely the right choice. Like taking a pizza to the cinema.