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Tuesday, 3 February 2015

John Doe - Street Feast Hawker House

Dry January is over!  This is of course bad news to those of us who have enjoyed visiting quiet and peaceful pubs and bars in your absence, but welcome back to civilisation the rest of you.  If you are looking for food & drink in equal quantity and quality, then look no further...

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Saturday 31st January - First up, a fantastic restaurant in West London that is truly worth the trek. John Doe (on fast improving Golborne Road) specialises in "Wild British produce, cooked over wood and charcoal".

We were first through the doors for lunch at 12.15 and settled on a table rather than up at the counter. Staff were wandering around singing along to an eclectic soundtrack ranging from Chesney Hawkes to Foo Fighters, reminding me of the equally lively Palomar but with some space to move your elbows.  

The smell of sherry vinegar filled the air, making it hard to pick from a mouth-watering menu full of goodies.  Ash roasted leeks, smoked roe tartar, and confit duck leg are just a few of the dishes that we had to leave behind.


Picking a drink is no easy task either.  A John Doe Negroni with Portobello Gin, Rosehip and Dry Vermouth called to me, but I couldn't resist dipping in to the fine beer list.  I opted for two Wild Beer Co. brews, starting with a dark and sour 7% Modus Operandi on tap, followed by an interesting 3.6% Sourdough bottle - both outstanding and in keeping with John Doe's wild ways.  There were also three Thornbridge taps, plus more bottles from Wild Beer Co., Siren, Freedom, Bad Seed, Bear Hug, Harviestoun and Otley Brewing.  Impressive stuff.


A complimentary plate of moreish Venison & Goat Charcuterie made its way over to ease us in to a gamey mood.  This was swiftly followed by our outstanding starters:

Mum The List - Stuffed Mackerel, Pomegranate, Cauliflower Cous Cous & Harissa
Dad The List - Seared Duck Hearts, Sherry Vinegar & Parsley
Matt The List - Octopus, Chickpeas, Aioli

Mum The List probably edged it with her generous mezze-style plate including standout Cauliflower Cous Cous, though I implore you to try the Duck Hearts if the thought scares you.  That sherry vinegar was certainly put to good use.  My off-menu special of Octopus was worth arriving early for - ask nicely and you shall receive.

Venison & Goat Charcuterie

Octopus, Chickpeas, Aioli

Stuffed Mackerel, Pomegranate, Cauliflower Cous Cous & Harissa

Seared Duck Hearts, Sherry Vinegar & Parsley

Three of the eight main courses on offer showcase their venison skills, making use of wild Roe Doe from the Cotswolds on this occasion.  We nearly got the full house:

Mum The List - Roe Doe Haunch Steak, Bone Marrow, Watercress Salad & Fries
Dad The List - Venison, Mutton & Bone Marrow Sausages, Choucroute & Mustard Sauce
Matt The List - Roasted Bacon, Slow Baked Brown Beans, Apple & Horseradish

Plus some Duck Fat Roasted Potatoes, and Chicory, Blood Orange and Hazelnut Salad to share.

Three more winners, and a zingy side salad to boot.  The Roe Doe Haunch Steak didn't come across particularly gamey, but there was no hiding the venison in the sausages (always a hard dish to present attractively!).  And that Bone Marrow... look at it! Then devour it.  My Roasted Bacon was also a delight, reminiscent of a glorious smokey BBQ meal at Big Crow in Toronto.  

If none of those take your fancy, you might be interested in the Beer Butt Partridge with Stinking Bishop Mac & Cheese, Greens and Bacon - a sight to behold with a small Schweppes Tonic Water can (filled with beer) shoved where the sun don't shine.  Only in-flight bars and hotels have beers that tiny. 

Roe Doe Haunch Steak, Bone Marrow, Watercress Salad and Fries

Beer Butt Partridge, Stinking Bishop Mac & Cheese, Greens & Bacon

To finish:

Mum The List - Valrhona Chocolate Terrine with Pistachio Cream
Dad The List - Valhrona Chocolate Terrine with Pistachio Cream
Matt The List - Valrohna Chocolate Terrine with Pistachio Cream

Pick your favourite spelling, it's wrong on almost every menu I come across. Answer below.

Whilst the rich slab of chocolate was popular all round, we did feel that this part of the menu needed some more variety.  Two Valrhona (hint hint) choices, Rice Pudding and a Cheese Plate didn't set the heart racing in the same way that the savoury selection process did.

Valrhona Chocolate Terrine with Pistachio Cream

Valrhona Chocolate Terrine with Pistachio Cream

Ladbroke Grove locals have got a real winner here, and due to its awkward location, they can probably expect to have first dibs for a while yet.  That said, Golborne Road is on its way up and the rest of London is starting to take notice, with the likes of Snaps & Rye and West Thirty Six opening recently.

Our excellent lunch was raised to another level by the charming, witty and helpful staff who brought smiles (and delicious grub) to every table.  Best meal of 2015 so far.

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Post lunch, I zoomed over to East London to kill some time for a few hours before the opening of Street Feast.  A frustrating wait at the problematic Draughts (sort out that system) was soon forgotten with a Signature Brew Backstage IPA at the candlelit Trip Kitchen next door which looked after us for the rest of the afternoon.

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Hawker House is back! Street Feast have finally opened their indoor food & booze Winter hangout in a new site opposite their old Merchant Yard haunt.  Set over three floors filled with the now customary funky lights, you can find London's finest street food traders, and six bars. SIX.  

Level 1 : Rotary Bar + 3 traders
Level 2 : Craft Beer Bar // Kamm & Sons Spritz Bar + 3 traders
Level 3 : Milk & Honey Mercury Lounge // Wine Bar // Whisky Bar + 1 trader


Considering that there are six (SIX) bars, seven street food traders seemed a little light to me, and by 9pm on Saturday, it was pretty hard to get near the stalls.  Ideally there would be closer to ten traders on rotation but I guess space is an issue.  Also, the three floor system leads to carnage on the stairs and one-in one-out queues between rooms, leaving you stranded with someone else's tempting food in hand.  This doesn't compare well to the sprawling Dalston Yard

Anyway, get there early, get stuck in to the food, and then settle on the stunning top floor.  After sharing some top notch sliders from Sambal Shiok and Boom Burger, I spent the rest of the evening in the company of the Whisky Bar and the Milk & Honey Mercury Lounge.  I was so distracted by Penicillins (invented by Sam Ross at Milk & Honey New York) that I barely took any photos this time around.  I highly recommend taking a look at Chris Coulson's atmospheric photos here.

Did I mention that you can play WHISKY ROULETTE? £8 gets you a spin and a dram, most of which are priced above £8 usually with the exception of a couple of £7 treats including the Peat Monster, so you can't go far wrong.  If you land on a 0, rather than the house winning, you get an entire bottle of whisky to take home! There were eight winners on the first weekend...


Sambal Shiok Sliders - Beef Rendang and Chicken Satay




Whisky Roulette

Whisky Roulette






Milk & Honey Penicillin - Scotch, Peat, Honey, Ginger, Lemon


Whilst I'd rather brave the cold and huddle around bonfires at their sprawling Dalston Yard and Model Market style spaces, Street Feast's new Hawker House is a big improvement on last year, and the top floor is magnificent.  It's open every Friday and Saturday from 5pm until the 4th April (£4 after 7pm), and there's still nothing else quite like it in London.  Though it gets busy, the atmosphere is always electric.  Enjoy!

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