The new lunch-only Welsh rarebit at the John Dory is the only toasted cheese sandwich the Underground Gourmet has ever seen finished tableside, as if the waiter had mistaken it for a pan of crêpes suzette or some Rosa Mexicano guacamole. The dish arrives looking pretty much like the delicious cheesy toast that it is, but then with an unexpected flourish, the waiter unsheathes a knife, scores the melted cheese, and then as elegantly as anyone can, shakes a bottle of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce over the thing.
The technique, chef April Bloomfield explains, was inspired by a visit to her friend Fergus Henderson’s restaurant, St. John, in London. “He sat next to me,” she says, “and was like, ‘Would you like me to prepare your Welsh rarebit?’ and I got really excited, because who wouldn’t want Fergus Henderson to prepare your Welsh rarebit? And so he did and it was fantastic.” (By contrast, during the U.G’.s formative years, when his mother would ask if he would like her to prepare his Welsh rarebit, she meant would he like her to defrost a box of Stouffer’s.) Whether or not rarebit aficionados agree with the method, we think it’s a nice touch, and we’re willing to call the John Dory’s version the best Welsh rarebit in the city, although, admittedly, we can think of only two other examples. (The recipe, in case you were interested: some chèvre, some sharp Isle of Mull Cheddar blended into a roux with some Guinness and mustard, the result spread out over a thick slice of toasted Del Posto pain de mie and then given a tanning-booth session in the salamander.) As for the age-old question of rarebit vs. rabbit, Bloomfield is sticking with rarebit, and she may have a point. After all, the phrase, “May I prepare your rabbit, sir?” sounds a tad cheeky.