Saturday 1st March - The first day of March brought the sun out of its hiding place, just in time for a couple of outdoor brewery events which I popped along to. First up, my local brewery Sambrooks launched a new Archer Mild Ale at their Spring Zing event, with live music, jerk chicken & Ginger Pig sausage rolls. Their next brewery party is "Bring Back Lavender Hill" on 31st May.
I then made my way over to Bermondsey, which seems to happen almost every Saturday, to see how the Anspach & Hobday brewery launch was going. They are the 5th brewery to join the Bermondsey Beer Mile, and have something slightly different to offer with their Smoked Brown beer. You can read more about their core beers in a previous post here.
It was absolutely rammed when we arrived, with punters going mad for the beer & food pairing - O'Shea smoked brown ale sausages, a miniature curry to go with the IPA, and a deconstructed porter (chocolate, hot coffee and fruit cake) + beer tasters for only £5. Beers were starting to run out but luckily Bullfinch Brewery uses the space to brew as well, and his Dapper & USA IPA bottles were doing a roaring trade - watch out for his Citrageddon coming soon.
A&H are about to launch their fourth beer, a Table Porter, which will be sub 3% ABV I believe. They are also doing a one off small brew most weeks on a home-brew kit, taking suggestions from the public - Paul was working hard on a Black IPA during the launch.
I normally hop from place to place using all of the optimisation skills I acquired during my Maths degree, but Dr.Gog would not have approved of my Battersea to Bermondsey to Battersea route on this occasion. My final stop of the evening was my lovely local pub, The Candlemaker, to try out their exciting new food menu from Death by Burrito.
Death by Burrito were stationed in Catch Bar in Shoreditch for most of last year and built up quite a name for themselves, so I'm delighted that they have been tempted down to "Sarf Landan". Within a week of the residency being announced, The Candlemaker made it on to newsletters from London Popups & The Nudge, so the benefits of having someone else do the cooking are pretty clear!
Alongside their classic burritos & tacos, they have brought in the awesome DBB Burger with candied bacon & pickled jalapenos - it was so good I went back again the next day! The Mex fries with chipotle ketchup and Guacamole & chips are not to be missed either. They also have a pretty special Sunday menu with the likes of 28 Day Aged Beef Forerib and Chipotle Baby Back Ribs.
|Death By Burrito Burger & 28 Day Aged Beef Forerib at The Candlemaker|
It is well worth the journey over to Clapham Junction, especially as the pub itself is fantastic, but you can also currently catch Death by Burrito in Soho at the bonkers looking DunneFrankowski Barbers & Coffee Shop.
The only thing missing was pudding. Luckily, across the road is a charming little restaurant called Galapagos Foods run by a lovely husband & wife team. They have 9 desserts listed (£5 each) but the Elaine says there are often more not on the menu. We knew we were in the right place when we were told - "I'm afraid we don't have any apple crumble, we only have rhubarb, plum and ginger today" and "We only have two types of bread & butter pudding this evening". Outrageous.
Elaine & Steeve Del Castello used to run Galapagos Foods as a deli (you can still buy items from the shelves), but decided to change to a restaurant after the arrival of Tescos & Sainsburys. I'm going to return soon in greater number for the full restaurant experience - I can imagine it might be the kind of place where the shutters come down and the wine flows til late if they like the look of the clientele! Stay tuned for a full review in the near future.
Tuesday 25th February - A few days earlier I was invited over to The Orange Public House & Hotel in Sloane Square for some Sacred cocktails. The Orange is part of the Cubitt House family that also includes The Grazing Goat, The Pantechnicon and The Thomas Cubitt. Both The Orange and The Grazing Goat operate as hotels as well as pubs / bars / restaurants.
Much like Le Quecumbar that I wrote about recently, The Orange lets you escape to France without the Eurostar fare. I had a lovely ramble around the many beautiful bar & restaurant rooms set over two floors.
We were well looked after on the food & drink front with superb canapés and three cocktails presented by Ian Hart & Hilary Whitney, the Sacred Spirits co-founders. Initially, Sacred was just going to be a Gin distillery, but they now also make Vodkas and Vermouth. All of their distilling takes place in their Highgate home and they are currently the only Londoners using the vacuum distilling method.
The classic Sacred Gin has 12 botanicals, but they are also soon launching a wider range of botanical gins including Cardamom, Pink Grapefruit, Orris, Juniper, Coriander and Licorice.
A Gin Gimlet was the perfect refreshing start (I must confess, I had more than one of these). The Pink Rosehip 75 with Sacred Vermouth divided opinions, but as a Negroni lover I was a big fan. The final Cardamom Gin & Tonic was very popular, and gives Opihr Gin something to think about.
Thanks to Saskia & co. at The Orange & Sacred for their hospitality & generosity, and to Chris (Triptease) & Ella (Little Brown Books) for the company!
I couldn't tempt Chris & Ella over to Waterloo for another drink, but luckily I had plenty of backup from Team List regulars Sam, Jen, Taro, Caroline, Lee & Jane. We went along to see the awesome Kansas Smittys dish out some free jazz at Waterloo Vaults, headed up by band leader Giacomo Smith on Alto Sax & Clarinet.
The Vaults is a great little venue tucked away beneath Waterloo Station. It is pretty rough around the edges, and happily reminds of some of the Underbelly rooms at Edinburgh Fringe Festival. Check the website to see what shows are on, or just rock up at the bar - I was pleasantly surprised to find they had Hackney Brewery beer available!
Kansas Smittys are ones to watch in London. They had a Mardi Gras party at the Vaults last week that involved a parade & victory lap around Waterloo Station, and they are lining up great things for Kansas Smittys Backyard BBQ and Single Launch on April 18th - save the date. You can also catch them at Ronnie Scott's Late, Late Show on March 28th & 29th.
One more place? Go on then. It's Friday after all.
Wednesday 26th February - I've been meaning to mention Spices on Chapel Market for a long time - my favourite curry house in London. There are probably curry houses serving better food out there, but none will come close on the service front.
Don't be put off by the wonderfully tacky exterior, and don't forget to BYOB - there's an off-license over the road. They label your drinks, put them in the fridge, and bring them out for you when you want them - no corkage.
Ali is in charge of taking orders. "What taste do you want in your mouth" is his opening gambit. Using his own system of flavours and a 1-10 spice range, he cheerfully advises you on what to pick from the menu. Your choices will be met with comical comments - "Ooh, very nice. That's a good one", "Ah, jawbreaker!". If you like the sound of more than one of the sauces, they can combine up to 7 dishes in one, known as 7th heaven.
Ali makes it very clear that there is a 3 minute rule - if you don't like your sauce, you can give it back no problem and they will make you up something totally different. One time, my friend picked out all of her onion pieces which led Ali to say "Why didn't you just ask for no onion? Then I would still have an onion!". He promptly went away and made her a fresh sauce with no onions. Everyone is encouraged to try all of the sauces, and I ended up sharing on my last visit after becoming quite attached to someone else's curry.
There are several fun places to drink before and after nearby including The Lexington for tonnes of Whiskey, American beers and live music, Craft Beer Co for incredible beers, and the new Joker of Penton Street pub (same owners as Candlemaker) which has just announced a Tongue'n'Cheek food residency. Their Italian Sunday Roast sounds pretty great.
Right, that's enough. Anyone make it this far? Didn't think so.