Mussels with Nduja at Elliot’s Café

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There are a few dishes on the Chowdown Showdown list that we are worried about. This was one of those – because Time Out warned that everything in Elliot’s is seasonal, so this could not be on the menu when you visit. Helpfully, they point out that everything at the ‘café’ is delicious, rather missing the point of the challenge they set when compiling a list of 100 top dishes! But luckily, Rachael spotted it on the menu and we rushed there the next day.

“A range of Mediterranean influences, from fresh Italian to complex, African-influenced Spanish”

I must admit I’ve not come across Nduja before. I can’t say I’ve a great deal of experience with it now, because this spicy, spreadable sausage had melted away completely into the soupy sauce in this dish, leaving the mussels bathed in a spot-on hot, tomato broth. I felt envious, because Rachael had a substantially larger portion than I did – I think they were trying to emphasise that all their dishes are for sharing by dividing two portions unevenly between two bowls!

The dish is balanced just right – and while the moules did take their usual place as more protein and texture than a taste explosion themselves, they take on a velvety, warming flavour and aroma that hints at a range of Mediterranean influences, from fresh Italian to complex, African-influenced Spanish. There’s a hint of citrus cutting through the oniony and herby vegetable bulk.

We each asked for extra bread, which is definitely needed for mopping!

18/100 top dishes according to Time Out

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