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Wednesday 4 December 2013

Source - Boopshi's - Kitchenette

I tried out four new restaurants this week, three of which have made it into this post.  The fourth one is coming, don't worry (I think there are enough pictures of tables & lights for one post).  I will, for memory-related reasons, go through them in reverse order.

Wednesday 27th October - First up is my new local restaurant, Source, which has just opened up in the old Ransome's Dock site in Battersea.  After 21 years in charge of Ransome's Dock, Martin and Vanessa Lam finally shut up shop in August, paving the way for another couple, Johan and Elsa De Jager, to open their first restaurant together.  They have worked all over including at Sophie's Steakhouse (just over the river), The Square (in Mayfair) and Eleven Madison Place (in New York).

 Head Chef James Adams (River Café) - Johan & Elsa De Jager
We started at the long bar - Crate Lager & Stout are available on tap in 2/3 pints, and Johan was on hand to whip up some house cocktails. The Fall Classic (Bourbon, Calvados, Thyme and Cider) was particularly well balanced.  Gin is well represented behind the bar with top bottles of Dodd's Gin from the local London Distillery (2 minutes away) and Boxer Gin from West London (check out their Boxing Club popup here).  Glasses of wine start at £3.50 and bottles start at £23 - you can see the full wine list here.

Source is a good looking place - it is beautifully lit at night, both outside and in, and will come into its own in Summer when they can open up all the doors and almost double their covers with tables approaching the dock.  A two man team called Offcut has done the majority of the lighting, woodwork and metalwork, and their hard work has really paid off.

The name Source refers to the natural water spring that flows directly beneath their restaurant.  For every £1 bottle sold, they donate 80p to the Magic Breakfast charity that provides free, healthy breakfasts to schools all over London.  The other 20p goes straight into looking after their filtration system.

Now for the main event - the food.  James Adams and his team "aim to simply showcase the best of seasonal British ingredients".  As is so often the way, choosing your starter is the hardest bit.  Luckily there were 5 of us, so we worked our way through the delicious Artichoke dip (£7), Rillette (meat paté - £6), Pumpkin Salad (one of the highlights of the meal - £7) and two portions of Crab Toast (£12 but a very generous helping).  Everyone had serious food envy so a lot of swapping went on.

Mains range from £12-18, unless you are there for a weekday lunch when there are several options available at £9 or £11, including large plates of the aforementioned Pumpkin Salad and the Macaroni, Squash, Cheese which we had as a side.  We unintentionally ignored the fishy Cod, Sole and Salmon options and instead went for Rabbit Ragu, Jacob's Ladders (not the children's toy or a ladder to heaven, but a popular cut of beef) and Mutton which were all beautifully cooked and unpretensiously presented.

Rabbit Ragu with Tagliatelle
Our friendly and informative waiter was always on hand for advice, and suggested we order the Broccoli, Almond and Cranberry starter with our sides of Winter Greens, Braised Chicory & Bacon, and Macaroni, Squash & Cheese.  We didn't take much convincing, and I would happily come back and let the chefs pick my food all evening, such is the consistency of quality on show at Source.

Last but not least, we had a little bit of space left for their excellent dessert list.  After describing the Doughnut Ice Cream Sandwich as "sex on a plate", every man on the table ordered it - well played, sir. It is a ridiculously creation (see below) that can easily be shared between two, and should be ordered by at least one person.  Congratulations to them for not trying to amalgamate all four words (Icedoughwich?) to spark a Cronut style media frenzy.  The comforting Bourbon Bread & Butter Pudding was the stand out choice for me, although I have it on good authority that their Pear & Almond Tart is superb.

Doughnut Ice Cream Sandwich
I haven't had a better 3 course meal in a long time, and the atmosphere and service was lovely all evening.  Johan & Elsa were charming hosts, and they should do very well here.  Sunday Roasts look tempting with Hogget and Ribeye currently on the menu, and they also open at breakfast when you can have Caravan coffee and Bread Bread bread (had to be done) from an artisan bakery in Brixton.  You can reserve tables on their website here, though they will always hold back a few tables for walk-ins.

Tuesday 26th November - The day before Source, I made my way over to Goodge Street to try out Boopshi's, an Austrian Scnitzel & Spritz bar/restaurant run by two brothers (Ed and Ben Robson). Their grandparents (whose recipes have inspired the food) used to call each other Boopshi, hence the name.  Décor is on the minimal side (it wouldn't look out of place in Hackney Wick), but it doesn't really matter when you are munching your way through comfort food.

In the upstairs restaurant, there are 6 Spritzes to choose from, ranging from £7.50-9.50.  Sister Jo (my sibling, rather than a nun) went for #4 - Sour Cherry Wine, Morello Cherry, Sherbert and Prosecco (which they have on tap).  They all turn up in wonderful Malea glasses (similar to my favourite Coppa glasses) which give the illusion of your drink being double the normal size.

They have smartly partnered up with Camden Town Brewery who have created the very drinkable Boopshi's Brüder Lager for them, after the bros rocked up at the brewery with their schnitzel-mobile a couple of months ago.

For your schnitzel fix, you can choose between Wiener (Rose Veal - £14.50), Rare Breed Pork (£11.50) and Chicken (£10.50) with optional toppings of Duck Egg, Hen Egg (is that just a regular egg?), Anchovies and Capers.  Naturally, Sister Jo, Luke and I ordered one of each type, and I wapped a duck egg on top of mine for good measure.  They are pricey once you take the sides and toppings into account, but the portions are massive.  Speaking of sides, the Sauerkraut was delicious as was the Spatzle'n'Cheese, though I would prefer some crunchier onions on top. They are thinking about turning the latter into a main course.

If schnitzel isn't your thing, there are several other mains including Frittaten Soup, Ox Tongue, Smoked Eel, Bratwurst, and an impressive Whole Globe Artichoke.

Trout with Spinach, Bacon and Mushrooms - Frittaten Soup
Despite a slightly off-putting view (see picture below), we moved on to pudding.  I went for a generous helping of Grandma Oma's Apple Strudel, which had a little kick thanks to some 80% Stroh and caraway seeds. Jo went for the Kaiserschmarnn (deconstructed pancake with fruits/jam) rather than a slice of Sachertorte or Poppy Seed Tart.

A trip to the toilets (which have mysteriously been designed for hobbits) revealed the downstairs bar, which has a completely different vibe to upstairs.  They have a separate cocktail list with some interesting creations including a Sachertorte Sour, Continental Treacle (with raisin-infused cider) and a Boopshi's Martini (with gin, kummel and optional pickle juice).

Sachertorte Sour, Holy Moly Negroni & Marillan Smash
It was a very comforting meal which all three of us thoroughly enjoyed.  It could be cheaper, especially on the drinks front, but it is right in the centre of London.  It is great to see them sticking to their Austrian roots right through the drinks menu, and everyone was extremely friendly - I wish them well!

Saturday 23rd November - Last but not least is a new all day bar/brasserie in Putney called Kitchenette.  They are a Turkish restaurant chain with branches all over the world, but this is their first British site.  I went along with Sister Jo again (watch out Sister Em, she is catching up) for another three courses.

The first thing you encounter when you walk in is a big table covered in cakes and newspapers.  Their hope is that many passers by will come in for a quick slice of something and a coffee in the morning or after work/school - I certainly would if I was in the area, it is a very welcoming sight!  Sister Jo was running late after a minor baking disaster - if only she had known about the cake table...

The food is "Mediterranean" which seems to cover most of Europe - Chicken Schnitzel, Penne Ragu, Kul Basti, Ribeye Steak Café de Paris and Lamb Shank all make it on to the same menu.  This was a trial run though, and apparently more Turkish cuisine will be making an appearance soon.

We started off with two fantastic warm salads - Grilled Halloumi Salad with sneaky bits of grapefruit giving it a sharp edge, and Marinated Artichoke with an apple cider vinaigrette.  They were almost main course size, and I would find it hard not to order exactly the same again next time round.

For mains, we opted for the Kul Basti (lamb fillet) with sautéed potatoes and peppers, and Salmon with GIANT COUSCOUS (which is always smaller than I hope) and a pomegranate dressing.  The flavours were subtle (in a good way) and the dishes are great value at around £10.

We shared a deconstructed chocolate mousse (who knew you could deconstruct that?) with berries and cardamom, which was a little too bitter for us, but an interesting idea.  More standard Turkish delights (wahay) such as Baklava should now be on the menu, and there is always the cake table to pick from.

On the drinks front, they have Whitstable Pale on tap, as well as a very affordable cocktail menu (£6-8) to choose from.  The atmosphere was relaxed all evening, the food was eclectic and moreish, and the staff were delightful.  Another success!

Square Meal

Square Meal

Square Meal

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