There’s no electricity powering the cooking at Kiln; it’s just used to run the rice cooker and the fridge. No gas either. The cooking is done over smouldering coals and in the eponymous wood-burning kiln. If you can get a seat at the counter, you’ll be in prime position to watch the magic happen. It’s dinner and a show. While such rustic cooking might not be magic per se, there is an admirable back-to-roots feeling at work here. The woks, one of the fundamental pieces of cookware in the kitchen, are hand-hammered and owner Ben Chapman even helped build the kiln himself.
And it’s used to great effect. The food here is inspired by regional Thai cooking, with flavours from Yunnan and Burma thrown in for good measure. Needless to say, it can be spicy – but have a word with the knowledgeable staff here and the spice kilowattage can be dialled down. While the dishes change according to what gets delivered by their fleet of local and regional suppliers, keep an eye out for the aged lamb skewers, which are grilled to crisp, cumin-coated perfection. And the clay pot-cooked Tamworth pork belly and brown crab meat is a winner, as is the five spice duck and offal dish with aged soy.
All the ingredients have been sourced with an eye to impeccable quality. Sean O’Neil grows the Chinese and Thai herbs and vegetables, and Phillip Warrens farmers delivers pigs and hogget (aged lamb). There are no paltry small cuts here; animals are delivered whole. And seafood is freshly-caught. With all this on offer, it’s really no wonder that Kiln remains walk-ins only, unless you come with a group. So be prepared to wait (just leave your name and they’ll ring you when your table’s ready), but stay the course – it’s worth it.