Wednesday 3rd September - A return to Clapham Common for another leisurely lunch with my parents. Last time out, The Dairy swept us off our feet. How would Adam Byatt's Trinity do?
We arrived hungry at 12.30 and found, for a while at least, that we had a dining room all to ourselves, with windows opening out on to a sunny Clapham pavement. Yes, that is Starbucks, not a delightful independent coffee shop. Give Clapham a few months.
We went straight for the lunch menu. 2 courses for £22 or 3 for £27 (Tuesday-Saturday). A La Carte is of course available, or you can go for the £50 tasting menu. We ordered a trio of greengage bellinis (one boozy, one water, one lemonade) which were accompanied by a complimentary snack box of radishes, cheese sticks with olive tapenade and roe mayonnaise.
|Complimentary snacks - radish, olive tapenade cheese sticks, roe mayonnaise|
More treats turned up before the starters - a bowl of sourdough that was the product of 14 years of fermentation (!) and triple whipped butter. This threatened to steal the show, and seconds were ordered. Funnily enough, the only other place I have been served butter on a rock since starting this blog was at The Dairy round the corner. Clapham knows how to serve its bread. I shall be triple whipping my butter from now on, but I'm not waiting 14 years for the perfect sourdough.
|14 year fermented sourdough with triple whipped butter|
The starters soon made their grand entrance. Staff were balletic in their approach to serving, with plates going down in unison as details of the dish were almost whispered to the relevant diner. A quail's egg sat atop a fort of potted smoked trout whilst watercress soup was poured all around - great presentation with flavours to match. My mother meanwhile had a generous portion of Vitello Tonnato (a Piedmontese dish of cold, sliced veal covered with a tuna-flavoured mayonnaise) which was wrapped around bobby beans, with crackling and ravigote (a lightly acidic, classic French sauce). Could Trinity keep up this high level throughout?
|Watercress Soup, Potted Smoked Trout, Quail's Egg|
|Vitello Tonnato, Bobby Beans, Crackling, and Ravigote|
There was no sign of a dip in quality (or quantity) in the mains. That second portion of bread might have been a mistake (I said might). Beautifully cooked warm roast salmon with bonus crispy skin, leaning on a spaghetti of vegetables, was surrounded by al dente agnolotti (another import from Piedmont, beef and vegetable stuffed pasta) and a crab vinaigrette. Wow. I might have to rush back for more before the menu changes with those pesky seasons.
|Warm Roast Salmon, Agnolotti, Crab Vinaigrette, Spaghetti of Vegetables|
My Dad's plate of Lamb Offal was an impressive sight - not something that I would order, but right up his street. It firmly got the thumbs up, an empty plate telling most of the story. If you've got lunch plans to eat at Heston's Dinner (£39 for 3 courses, 2 Michelin stars), it might be time to change the booking.
|Lamb Offal: Liver, Kidney & Sweetbread, Fricassé of Peas, Lettuce and Onions|
After a brief discussion about sharing desserts, we greedily ordered three separate bowls, spurred on by the superb staff's enthusiasm for their favourite pudding making it back on to the menu.
That enticing, inverted fried egg looking thing you can see is a Valrhona Chocolate Hot Pot with Salt Caramel Ice Cream. Granted, the salted caramel struggled to compete with the gooey, rich Valrhona chocolate, but who cares? I was ultimately defeated, but I ate way more of it than I should have.
And then they went and brought us some macaroons on a bed of cocoa nibs. I managed to fit one in - only polite, right?
|Valrhona Chocolate Hot Pot with Salt Caramel Ice Cream|
|Macaroons on a cocoa nib bed|
As you might have noticed, we were rather happy with our lunch. Not just the food and drink though as the service was second to none. I shouldn't think it will be too long before we are back for the tasting menu. Well done Trinity, you (and The Dairy) are doing Clapham and South London proud.
N.B. Trinity has some unexpected opening times: Lunch is served Tue-Fri 12.30-2.30pm, Sat midday-2pm, Sun midday- 3.30pm. Dinner is served Mon-Sat: 6:00-10pm. On Monday bank holidays Trinity is also open for lunch.
P.S. Adam Byatt has another restaurant, Bistro Union, on the charming Abbeville Road. I might go along for a Sunday Supper Club evening when corkage is free.
Right, now, don't judge me, but there's a chance I was hungry again a few hours later. Ahead of a bar launch, Natalie and I decided to check out the new Pizza Pilgrims Pizzeria & Friggitoria in Kingly Court, already being very familiar with their Neapolitan pizzas from street food events and their Dean Street home.
I won't go in to too much detail, as you can read about their original pizzeria here, but I will mention a few new things. Firstly, space! They have lots of it, including plenty outdoors in Kingly Court and also downstairs, where there is a full-on Super Mario mural. An arcade machine (supposedly Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles) is soon to be added there too.
Coffee. They have a separate little coffee outpost next to the pizzeria with their friends at Terrone Coffee Roasters, who run a popular stall at Netil Market. The Terrone owner, Edy Piro hails from just outside Naples, so that's all good.
Booze. Collaborating with Chase Distillery, they have crafted Sohocello, their own take on Limoncello with Luigi Aceto’s Amalfi lemons & Chase English potato spirit. They have also sensibly sourced some exciting Italian beers from Birra del Borgo, a brilliant brewery. It's about time Londoners knew that Italians make more than just Peroni.
Friggitoria. Not content with nailing the art of pizza, they have turned their hands to frying, including Pizza Fritta (mini deep-fried calzones), Carciofi Fritti (deep fried artichoke hearts with rosemary salt) and best of all Frittatine di Maccheroni (macaroni cakes with parmesan, ragu & buffalo mozzarella).
|Outdoor seating in Kingly Court|
|Pizza Pilgrims & Chase Distillery Sohocello|
I did manage a bit of food after my epic lunch. We shared a Salsiccia & Friarelli pizza (Bianca base, fresh fennel sausage, wild broccoli, parmesan, basil, olive oil time- hard not to order this one every time) and a cup of those fried macaroni cakes. I'm happy to report that the pizzas are still of the highest quality even though James & Thom are spreading themselves thinner with two sites and various street food commitments. And the Frittatine di Maccheroni were everything I hoped for, and oh so healthy.
|Salsiccia e Friarelli Pizza|
|Frittatine di Maccheroni|
It's good to see them expanding, especially as now there's space for everyone. Kingly Court is clearly the place to be, with fun foodie neighbours like Stax, Rum Kitchen, and Wright Brothers already settled. Senor Ceviche is the next arrival on the horizon.
Pizza Pilgrims next residency adventure is at the three month pop-up that has been causing quite a stir, Swingers. No, not a leave your keys in a bowl affair, but a MINI GOLF / BAR. I'm pretty excited. Book your tickets here before they are all gone.
That's enough food for one day, I think. To balance it out, we made our way over to Broadwick Street for the launch of Basement Sate, a cocktail and dessert bar (that's a thing now) in the space that Soho institution The Player used to inhabit.
It's a good-looking bar - all dark wood, red brick and low lighting (to the extreme), plus a very funky back bar arrangement with spirits on small stepladders.
The booze and pudding idea is down to Dublin born Cathleen McGarry, co-owner of the excellent Sherry Butt in Paris. The 12 strong cocktail list has been devised by Byly Tran (Prescription Club), and Dorian Picard (Club Gascon) is the pastry chef behind the puddings. Enough name dropping for you? Expectations were understandably high.
After a bit of a scrum at the busy bar, I started with a moreish Arboriculturist (Calvados, Cinnamon & Pear Syrup, Sherry - £10) - boozy fruit with more than a hint of Christmas. My bottle of Calvados is normally reserved solely for making many a Sidecarriage, but I might just have to branch out if someone divulges the specifics.
Next up was Eagle in the Tub (Gin, White Port, Fernet Branca, Ginger Ale - £11) which didn't stick in the memory, but long drinks aren't really my thing.
The unlikely winner for me was Beet Me Up (£11), a fiery mix of vodka, beetroot, ginger and Moscato d'Asti. My vodka bottles rarely get an outing from the drinks cabinet (mostly when Big Lebowski is on) but now I have a new excuse. Another recipe needed please.
There's plenty more fun to be had on the short menu including Patrick the Wombat (Rosemary-infused Tequila, Aperol, Umeshu, Grapefruit - £10), Prairie Meuh Meuh (Cognac, Suze, Punt e Mes - £11) and Salty Granny (Japanese Whisky, Wakame-infused Vermouth, Granny Smith syrup - £13).
|Arboriculturist - Calvados, Cinnamon & Pear Syrup, Sherry|
On the dessert front, we tasted three miniature versions, but below are some photos of the real deal for you to gawp at. London - Brest (black sesame choux, praline cream, "hidden" hazelnut, tonka creme anglaise) was the mini winner on the night, but I'd have to have the £10 full version before I could really pass judgement. It will be interesting to see whether the desserts get as much attention as the cocktails over the next few weeks.
Others of particular interest on the menu:
Bulle - spiced blood orange sphere, Visitandine biscuit, passion fruit gel, Granny Smith foam £9
Mille Feuille Fromage & Truffle - filo pastry, truffled cream cheese, honey&rosemary, pine nut pesto £11
Raviole - cocoa ravioli, raspberry ginger cream, cassis chocolate truffle, gin & citrus gel £12
|London - Brest (black sesame choux, praline cream, "hidden" hazelnut, tonka creme anglaise)|
|Vacherin (Lime meringue, basil cream, strawberry sorbet, cranberry and orange coulis)|
It's a bizarre concept, though similar projects such as After Hours Dessert and The Pudding Bar have proved to be very popular, and the bartending is strong enough without the additional sweet course, so I'm sure Basement Sate will do well. I will probably avoid returning on the weekend when a "high-octane party atmosphere" is promised - a chilled out jazz vibe midweek sounds more up my street. Take your pick.