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Friday 18 September 2015

Morden & Lea - Lobos Meat & Tapas - The Fire Station - News

Three relatively new openings to take a look at today - Morden and Lea / Lobos Meat & Tapas / The Fire Station

Translation: I actually went along a couple of months ago to all three when they were brand new, but then I skipped town for most of July & August. In my defence, I've since been to 200+ food and drink places in 60 days across West Coast USA, Edinburgh, Berlin and London, though I haven't written up any of those either. Search for #MattTheTrips on Instagram or Twitter for proof. Anyway, better late than never, right?

First up, Mark Sargeant's two-floor modern brasserie Morden & Lea on Wardour Street, "named after cartographers Morden and Lea, who were the first to map Soho in the 17th century".

Morden & Lea has a colourful, eye-catching frontage that's best approached from Lisle Street. Upstairs you'll find a dining room for refined brasserie food (£29 for 2 courses or £35 for 3) and people watching views if you are lucky, whilst downstairs is a more relaxed space for a lighter, less spenny meal and a drink or two - that's where you'll find me!

We wasted no time and ordered some tartines (French open sandwiches) and small plates to share. Smoked Cod Roe with Bottarga was scooped up with fresh sourdough before several tartines were demolished. There are usually nine or so on the menu to pick from, mostly around the £5 mark. Broad Bean, Pea and Pecorino was much more thrilling than it sounds, and Lyonnaise Onion, Olives and Anchovy instantly converted an anchovy-abstainer.

We restrained ourselves on the tartines though as there was still Mark's Crab Sausage Roll (£8.50) to come. That's right, crab meat wrapped in puff pastry, served with a bowl of brown crab meat ketchup for good measure. Yes please.

Broad bean, pea and pecorino tartine

Lyonnaise onions, olives and anchovy tartine

The Crab Sausage Roll doing the rounds on Instagram

Before dessert, it was time to check out the eclectic cocktail menu. I kept things boozy with The Calvados Cocktail (Somerset Cider Brandy, Caol Ila 12yo, French Triple Sec, Orange & Pink Grapefruit Cordial) and a James E. Pepper - "Jamaican Rum meets Scottish Lowlands & Louisiana's finest tobacco with touches of Peruvian bitters, served with South American crisp". Translation: Appleton Estate VX, Auchentoshan 3 Wood, Jade Perique Tobacco Liqueur, and Bitters. Put a fair amount of time aside for this all-booze concoction.

I also returned on another occasion for a couple more. The Boulevardier with Redemption Rye and an olive twist went down very nicely, and then there was the bonkers Velvet Revolver Punch, Morden & Lea's Mezcal Monopoly number in an upturned shiny & chrome hat for £30.  A third visit is required for a Rough Sketch - Del Maguey Vida, Diplomatico Blanco Reserva, Poppy Seed Milk and Charcoal Sugar. Their creative concoctions are mostly priced around £9-11.

The Calvados Cocktail - Somerset Cider Brandy, Caol Ila 12yo, Orange & Pink Grapefruit

James E. Pepper - Appleton Estate VX, Auchentoshan 3 Wood, Jade Perique Tobacco Liqueur, Bitters

James E. Pepper - Rum, Scotch, Bitters. Boozy.

Now - dessert. There are some great £5 options on the downstairs menu (e.g. Set Dark Chocolate with Mocha Sherbert and Buttermilk Pudding), but if you ask nicely you might also get your hands on one of the fancy puddings from upstairs. I'm talking Warm Sugared Doughnuts with Plum Jam and Hazelnut Ice Cream and their signature Gypsy Tart.  The latter is a typical Kentish pudding that is basically pastry, muscovado sugar and evaporated milk - simple and sinful. Here's the recipe:

Mark Sargeant's Gypsy Tart

For the pastry (makes 500g):

125g unsalted butter 
90g caster sugar 
1 large egg 
250g plain flour

For the tart:

300g pastry 
400g evaporated milk 
330g muscovado sugar

Combine the butter and caster sugar in a food processor. Add the egg; process for 30 seconds. Tip in the flour and process for a few seconds until the dough just comes together. Add 1 tbsp cold water if the dough seems dry. Knead on a floured surface then shape into a flat disc and chill for 30 minutes. Preheat the oven to 170C/gas mark 3. 

Roll out 300g of the pastry and use to line a 21cm tart tin. Line the pastry case with greaseproof paper; fill with baking beans and bake for 15 minutes, then remove the baking beans. Return to the oven for 5-10 minutes until the base is a pale golden brown. 

Whisk the milk and sugar together until light and fluffy (it takes about 15 minutes). Pour the milk mixture into the pre-baked pastry case then cook for 5-10 minutes until risen and the surface is tacky.
Remove from oven and leave to cool and set before serving. Done.

If you like the look of the Gypsy Tart, you should probably read this Telegraph article, before heading to The Marksman and Café Murano for similar puddings.

Mark Sargeant's outstanding Gypsy Tart - recipe above

Upstairs - Mon-Sat: 12pm-3pm & 5:30pm-11pm // Downstairs - Mon-Sat: 11.30am-1am

17 Wardour Street, Soho, London W1D 6PJ

Morden & Lea -

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Morden & Lea Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

You might also like this post - No Reservations : Soho

Next - a trip to the hidden caves of Lobos Meat & Tapas in Borough Market.

Tucked underneath the railway bridge on Borough High Street are the doors to this meaty den from former Brindisa boys, Roberto, Joel, Cortés and Ruben. It's a funny old space, a little tight in places, but there are pleasing décor and lighting touches all around.

Feeling indecisive, we left most of the decision making up to our outstanding server who chose some fino sherries and tapas plates to get us going. 

- Martini Olives - £4
- Octopus Vinaigrette - £5.50
- Croquetas - Ham, Chorizo & Smoked Bacon - £7
- Cazón en Adobo - Deep-fried Marinated Dogfish - £7.50
- Baked Tetilla Cheese - With Toasted Vegetables and Brandy - £9
- Arroz Con Costra - Chicken, Chorizo & Saffron Rice with Egg Crust & Morcilla - £8.50

The Martini Olives, though nicely presented didn't quite come off, and the Octopus Vinaigrette was pleasant but not particularly exciting. The rest however were winners. Croquetas and deep-fried marinated dogfish disappeared in no time before two eye-catching pots and pans arrived. 

Baked Tetilla Cheese came soaked in brandy and was promptly set on fire, briefly illuminating our shadowy alcove - toasted vegetables might not be everyone's first choice to chuck in with molten cheese, but it worked well.  Arroz Con Costra ("Rice with crust") was presented in its clay pot with chicken, chorizo and morcilla to keep the meat eaters happy. The cities of Elche and Orihuela both claim to the origin of the dish - either way, I'm glad it's made its way to London.

Croquetas - Ham, Chorizo and Smoked Bacon // Photo from Lobos website

Baked Tetilla Cheese with Toasted Vegetables and Brandy

We didn't leave a whole lot of room for one of their signature meat plates, but we soldiered on anyway. It was a tough call passing on the Chuleton (sirloin on the bone) and the Roasted Leg of Lamb (pictured below) but we opted for variety with the Iberico Pork Selection - Pork Fillet, Secreto and Presa to share with sides - £26.50

- Marinated Iberico Pork Fillet with Trintxat Potatoes
- Hidden, fatty Secreto cut of Iberico Pork with Mojo Chips
- Pan-fried Presa Iberica shoulder with Roasted Peppers

What's not to like? The matched sides are a nice touch, and it's perfect for sharing. Alternatively, you can order any of the cuts individually if you need something smaller after all of the tapas plates.

Pierna de Cordero - Roasted Castillian leg of milk fed lamb - £28.50 // Photo from Lobos website

There's plenty to enjoy at Lobos, and there were some particular high notes in the tapas plates, but it's up against stiff competition in London. Donostia in Pop Brixton and Barrafina (three sites) are top alternatives with a great buzz about them, though they don't match Lobos for mega meat cuts!

Mon-Sat 12-3.30 & 5.30-11 / Closed Sundays

14 Borough High Street, London. SE1 9QG

Lobos Meat & Tapas -

Square Meal

Lobos Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato
Finally, The Fire Station in Waterloo recently reopened as an all-day hangout, totally refurbished, with a smart selection of food and drink to boot.  

DISCLAIMER: I received a toy fire truck on arrival, so the following write-up may be biased

You can drop in for Caravan coffee from 7am (9am at weekends), settle in for breakfast every day of the week, swing by for a cheeky lunchtime or post-work pint, sip on boozy cocktails with friends, or nosh on sub £10 burgers and pizzas. It may sound like they are going down the Jack of all trades route, but when the alternative is The Wellington over the road, this is exactly what Waterloo Station needs.

Let's start with the cocktails (all £8-9). Most of the menu would fall in to the too-sweet-for-me category, but there are three interesting smoked cocktails (in honour of  that I'd happily order again. The core booze is smoked in advance, rather than the cocktail itself, so the effect is subtle not overpowering. Not bad for a station pub.

- Cinnamon-Smoked Old Fashioned - Cinnamon-smoked Bulleit Bourbon, homemade cinnamon syrup 
- Smoked Cherry Manhattan - Bulleit Bourbon, Jim Beam Black Cherry Bourbon, Herring Cherry Brandy, Lillet Blanc, Lillet Rouge, Cherry Syrup Oak Smoked
- Honey & Basil Smoked Daiquiri - Applewood-smoked Havana 3YO Rum, Lime, Honey, Basil

As for beer, there are nine or so on draught, plus a selection of ales.  The range wasn't particularly thrilling (Birra Morretti, Amstel, Camden Hells, Meantime Pils - one of those would do), but if Beavertown Neck Oil Session IPA is always on then I'll be happy. You can also get some fine cans from their fridges (e.g. Beavertown x 3, Founders All Day IPA, Flying Dog Easy IPA and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale).

Cinnamon-Smoked Old Fashioned - Cinnamon-smoked Bulleit Bourbon, homemade cinnamon syrup

Smoked Cherry Manhattan - Bulleit Bourbon, Jim Beam Black Cherry Bourbon, Herring Cherry Brandy, Lillet Blanc, Lillet Rouge, Cherry Syrup Oak Smoked

Beavertown Brewery cans

On to the food, it's pizzas or burgers all the way, with a few sides to keep them company - watch out for that spicy coleslaw.

I sneaked one tasty slice of a Margherita (£7.95) before tucking in to a few of their burgers which have clearly taken inspiration from London's buzzing burger scene:

- Cheese - 6 oz dry aged beef patty, American mustard mayo, bacon ketchup, cheese, sliced beef tomato, little gem - £7.95
- Maple Glaze Bacon - 6 oz dry aged beef patty, maple-glazed thick cut bacon, cheese, American mustard mayo, sliced beef tomato, little gem - £8.50
- Black & Gold - 6 oz dry aged beef patty, black pudding, double cheese, American mustard mayo, sliced beef tomato - £9.95
- Glazed Short Rib - 6 oz dry aged beef patty, balsamic-glazed short rib, American mustard mayo, sliced beef tomato, little gem - £10.95

They were all suitably messy and meaty, but when Bleecker Street's award-winning Bleecker Black is a mere 5 minute walk away underneath Hungerford Bridge, there's no contest - the Black & Gold suffers in comparison there. More successful is the excellent Glazed Short Rib burger which would probably be my first choice next time, and sweet potato fries are always welcome.

Glazed Short Rib - 6 oz dry aged beef patty, balsamic-glazed short rib, American mustard mayo

Maple Glaze Bacon - 6 oz dry aged beef patty, maple-glazed thick cut bacon, cheese, American mustard mayo

There are of course better places for beer, cocktails, coffee, brunch, burgers and pizzas all over London, but The Fire Station does well on all fronts and is a great option with attractive interior design and tonnes of space, right next to Waterloo Station. Sold.

Mon-Wed: 7am-11pm, Thu-Fri: 7am-12am, Sat: 9am-12am, Sun: 9am-10:30pm

The Fire Station -

150 Waterloo Road, London, SE1 8SB

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The Fire Station Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato


Looking for great beer around London's Southbank? Look no further.


Let's finish off with a few bits and bobs of clickbait news and nonsense on food, booze and events:

- Climpson's Arch Thai heroes Som Saa launched a crowdfunding campaign, and smashed it within 72 hours, raising £700,000+

- The folk behind world-renowned Nightjar bar have revealed details on their new bar, Oriole

- London Cocktail Week is just around the corner (5th-11th October) - get your wristbands now

- The only place for #craftbeerwankers to be tomorrow (19th Sept) is Beavertown Brewery for the incredible, trans-atlantic rainbow project

- The awesome Kansas Smitty's House Band are finally releasing their album in their Broadway Market bar on 23rd September before going on a tour of London bars including Nightjar's new Oriole bar.

- The list of new Michelin Stars had to be released a day early after a book store starting selling copies of the latest guide. Catch up on the winners (and Bib Gourmand awards) here.

- Caravan, Pizza Pilgrims, Brunswick House, Petersham Nurseries and more coming to the Frieze Art Fair in Regent's Park - 14th-17th October


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