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Tuesday 8 October 2013

Street Food Europe - Jolly Butchers - Ruby's - Ridley Road Market Bar - Hops and Glory

Saturday 28th September - If you read my last post (see here), you will know that I spent the night of the 27th on a luxurious Ploum sofa in Hoxton after a night of bar hopping with the siblings.  I would normally opt for an epic multiple night bus journey back to Battersea, but I had tickets for Street Food Europe in Dalston the next day, so I decided to stay East.  I had some time to kill when I woke up, so I watched the first half of Spurs vs Chelsea (with Russian commentary!) in a lovely little pub with a countryside feel called The Baring. They even have their own football, cricket and rounders teams.  They are recognised by Camra as a top community pub with excellent beer.

With Spurs comfortably 1-0 up, I made my way over to Dalston Junction to meet Natalie and Lauren (Leading List Ladies) for an afternoon of street food.  This was effectively a special edition of Street Feast with traders from all over Europe competing (confusingly) in the British Street Food Awards.  We bought £6 tickets in advance which gave us entry as well as a pint of brewery fresh Meantime lager and an Aperol Spritz.  Dalston Yard was looking as photogenic as ever, with colourful mobile kitchens of all shapes and sizes filling every nook and cranny.

We dove straight in to the food, starting off with some mixed gyoza (dumplings) with wholesome fried pearl barley from Dorshi which was delicious.  It lasted all of two seconds so we moved on straight on to Heisser Hobel from Berlin who were serving up Kässpätzle, freshly cooked noodles with Bavarian cheese, black pepper, chives and crunchy fried onions.  This ended up being our favourite dish of the day, and Lauren went back for seconds.

Heisser Hobel's Kässpätzle - Best Overseas trader and our favourite
I could go into great detail about many of the traders, but I would only be copying and pasting from the British Street Food site.  Click here to read some really interesting stuff about everyone that turned up.

Clockwise: Ginger's Comfort Emporium, Dorshi Sushi, El Taco Truck and Wild Rover sauce
Ginger's Comfort Emporium (last year's winners) and the pink El Taco Truck from a tattoo artist from Stockholm
Clockwise: Buskruid, Bunsmobile, Chinampas (juice served in bags) and Katie & Kim's Kitchen
Next up, we munched on some tasty Torta Fritta (traditional fried dough puffs with pork cold cuts) from Gurmetti, an Italian Deli truck - hopefully they won the Best Moustache Award.  We also had a Venison and Giant Couscous Wrap from Wild Rover Food, who travel around Scotland with their 1961 Land Rover and pop-up ex-army kitchen.  We tried to cash in on our Aperol Spritz but they were low on Prosecco so we went for a pint of Meantime instead.  Natalie showed her Team List pedigree as she came away from the Aperol bar with a half-used drinks voucher that was lying around.  

We went for a wander to decide on our next move and came across a Kamm & Sons cocktail bar which was giving away some tasters of their Sunshine Mary (a Bloody Mary twist) and Summer Tonic.  Kamm & Sons is a Ginseng Spirit made with 45 botanicals in a similar way to gin.  The main ingredients are ginseng, fresh grapefruit peels and manuka honey.  It was created by Alex Kammerling and is currently creating quite a buzz in London.

Kamm & Sons Montage
We decided to get back on the food, and Natalie and I went for a messy Belly Connection Heartbreaker burger from Tongue and Cheek.  Natalie struggled slightly and ended up covered in burger juice - you would think she might have learnt by now! Tongue and Cheek's "No Lobster Roll" made with cod cheeks was very popular and went away with the Best Sandwich Award.  The Aperol bar had been restocked with Prosecco so we cashed in - remarkably, none of us had ever had an Aperol Spritz before.

Aperol Sprtizes? Aperols Spritz?
We couldn't leave without some dessert, and we had been eyeing up Tinderbox's Plum Crumble.  They deservedly went away with the Best Looking Mobiler Award, and their food was very attractive too.  So much so that another foodie photographer scampered up and started snapping away.  I correctly suspected that it was Giulia (caught red handed below) who runs a foodie photo blog (check it out here) as she is often putting up photos for Street Feast events.

Heisser Hobel (left) and The Tinderbox (right)
Snapped! Visit Giulia's blog here -
A lot of the traders took a short break around 17.30 before opening back up for the evening session, so we decided to make a move.  Street Food Europe carried on to Sunday as well, with the impressive 13 year old entrepeneur Stan taking part selling his snow cones - find out more about him here.  It was another successful event from the Street Feast / Tweat Up team - they are taking a short break now whilst they come up with a site for Autumn/Winter feasting.  They are hopefully launching something near Old Street on November 1st.

I had keenly booked us in to Ruby's for 18.15 and so we powered up towards the Jolly Butchers pub to fit in a quick half.  The Jolly Butchers is the sister pub to the Crown & Anchor in Brixton (read about my trip here), which basically means that they have an awesome beer and cider selection.  They were even named as one of the 10 best pubs in Britain by the Guardian, though that was in 2011! They had a tempting range of beers in when we went, including Brewdog, ELB, Dark Star, Rogue, and Anarchy.  It is possibly the furthest out List place that I (a South West Londoner) have made it to so far (not counting Paris!) - it must be close between this and The Big Hackney Day Out.  Flatmate Maggie (famed for her late arrivals) texted at this point saying she might join us around 20.30.

We had to rush off, as we were due at Ruby's cocktail bar down the road.  Ruby's was one of the first places on The List but it was just a little too far North East for my Battersea ways.  I am glad we finally made it, as it is a cracking little bar.  It is on Stoke Newington Road, but you may well miss it if you don't know what you are looking for it.  It is underneath an old cinema sign, which they have creative control over and change fairly regularly.  When we arrived, the door was shut, and we were in the process of knocking on the wrong door when a kind local told us which one to go for.  Having rushed over from Jolly Butchers, it soon became apparent that Ruby's didn't open til 6.30! I could have sworn I booked for 6.15, but after a bit of Twitter searching, I was proved wrong - rookie mistake for an experienced bar hopper.

Booking was pretty unnecessary since we were the first ones in, but I had no idea whether a queue formed early, or whether everyone else usually booked it up, and we didn't want to be turned away.  Anyway, that allowed us to sit at the bar, always the best seat of the house, with a barman per person ready to serve us! They were still setting up, and were fairly entertained by how punctual we were.  If we had arrived later, we might have missed their warm up music, a hilarious funky album of unreleased 70s porno music called Cream Streets by Pornosonic, written as a mock soundtrack to a non-existent movie - you can buy it on Amazon here! Our ever innocent List Leader misheard it as Paul O'Sonic - bless.

Ruby's have just launched their new Autumn menu so we worked our way through a few of those, plus some old classics.  We started off with Gone with the Bees (Cachaça, St.Germain and Honey), English Garden (Gin, Apple Liqueur, Apple and Rhubarb Juice & Mint) and their classic Blackberry Mojito (presented in a milk bottle).  All 3 received the thumbs up and we took our time enjoying them as the place started to fill up.

We carried on chatting with the amusing bartenders who were also a joy to watch up close (especially "Frank Turner" man according to the girls).  One slightly bonkers drink called Lucyfer on the new menu (involving bourbon, chambord, curacao, apple & chilli) is named after a fun customer who came in demanding something odd.  Hopefully Paul O'Sonic will make it on to the Winter menu.  They kindly gave us some tasters of their chilli bitters (which packs quite a punch) used in the Chilli Apple Martini, and the walnut bitters used in Japanese whiskey inspired Kurimi.  They also let me sample an incredibly bitter Negroni twist involving Fernet Branca, Cocchi Americano and bitters, before it was sent to the man that ordered it.  It was too bitter for all of our tastes, but the customer seemed very happy!

Our final round consisted of Fig Fall (muddled fig, bourbon, vanilla), Fog Cutter (rum, cognac, gin, orange) and the Chilli Apple Martini (with vanilla infused vodka).  The place was really busy by this point, and we started to feel like we should let some newbies have a go in our seats.  For some reason, we made Lauren rush through the end of her spicy Martini, which left her mouth on fire for the walk to the next stop.  Every drink was delicious, and the bartenders were very engaging.  Frank Turner man gave us some top tips for where to go next, and we decided on Ridley Road Market Bar which was mysteriously absent from The List.

Ridley Road Market Bar is tucked away at the far end of quiet Ridley Road.  To reach it, you walk past a deserted row of fishy market stalls (very similar to Brixton and Peckham) but have faith because there's nothing fishy about the bar.  There was a fun crowd in taking advantage of the bargain £5 Ginger Mojitos. They have tonnes of plastic glasses ready to go with limes waiting to be muddled inside, attractively lined along the bar.  We got ourselves three of them, and settled on a sofa in the corner to do some people watching.

We got into a conversation with a couple next to us, who were celebrating buying a house by spending their remaining tenner on some ginger mojitos.  Lauren and I instantly warmed to them as they started mocking Natalie's incomprehensible Northern pronunciation of any word with more than one vowel in - moors, year, poor etc.  The bar was busy but very relaxed, and I would be here all the time if I was a local.  London needs more cheap and cheerful places like this.  There is DJ and dancefloor, plus street food outside which rotates  I believe.

We decided to squeeze in one last place before making the long journey home.  Flatmate Maggie finally caught up with us at 21.30, travelling all the way from Sheen for a couple of drinks in the Hops and Glory on Essex Road - Team List dedication.

Hops and Glory is a relatively new craft beer bar (opened December 2012) which also operates as a bottle shop, selling beers 25-30% below their retail price.  It's a cosy boozer with beautiful décor - having a piano always gets a pub bonus points.  The beer selection was interesting and we particularly enjoyed Liverpool Beer Co American Red and Windsor & Eton Brew 545 Wheat Beer (a collaboration with Natalie Reichert from Meteor Brasserie in France.  They also have a superb bottled beer list, and a beer-influenced cocktail list including Shakey Pete's Ginger Brew designed by Pete Jeary from Hawksmoor.  The food didn't look too shabby either, and Big Apple Hot Dogs were available when we were there.

It is another great Islington pub (thanks for the heads up from Foodie Islington) which makes me want to move closer to Upper Street.  That said, Battersea has it's fair share of top notch taverns - stay tuned for a pub round up soon. 

Lauren and Natalie pick up 5 more big points and Maggie gets another cheeky 1 to keep her in the mix on the leaderboard.  It is currently London Cocktail Week so hopefully I will have plenty of new places to report back on soon.  Will this be the week that sees Natalie make it to 100 points?

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