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Friday, 26 February 2016

Brunch O'Clock

On account of my bizarre work "schedule", I actually struggle to make it out for food most weekends during that magical window of opportunity, but I have managed to squeeze in a few breakfast-lunch hybrids recently. Here's some inspiration for the weekend ahead. Ready, set. BRUNCH.

Warning : This post contains strong coffee and scenes of an eggporn nature...

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Salon, Brixton - The One That Takes Reservations



Surely not, right? No one takes reservations anymore. ESPECIALLY for brunch. Alright then, if you say so - see you tomorrow at 10.45 - "Isn't that still breakfast time?" (Flatmate M).

And just like that, the wait for a table was gone. Five of us rocked up to the lovely Salon in Brixton's Market Row on a Saturday morning for a spot of brunch ahead of an afternoon at Beavertown Brewery's birthday party - Flickr photos here.

In the evenings (Tue-Sat), Salon has a serious set menuto get stuck in to (£33/head at the time of writing) . The most recent list I saw had such delights as burata with blood orange, bitter leaves and hazelnuts and scallop with 'nduja, burnt apple, and grilled leek. Seasonal and inventive is their thing, and this also applies to their wonderful, affordable brunch menu.

Here's what you should look out for:

- Warm banana bread, hazelnut ganache - £3.50
- Smashed avo on toast, super seeds & pickled chilli with smoked pig's cheek lardons - £6.50
- Scrambled eggs & 'nduja on toast - £6.50
- Roast mushrooms, pickled shallots & cow's curd on toast - £7.50
- Three cheese cornbread, shredded ham hock, chipotlé slaw, poached duck egg - £9

If you ask nicely, they might just bring you some of their rather excellent sourdough doughnuts too...

Warm banana bread, hazelnut ganache - £3.50

Three cheese cornbread, shredded ham hock, chipotlé slaw, poached duck egg - £9

Three cheese cornbread, shredded ham hock, chipotlé slaw, poached duck egg - £9

Scrambled eggs & 'nduja on toast - £6.50

Smashed avo on toast, super seeds & pickled chilli with smoked pig's cheek lardons - £6.50

Smashed avo on toast, super seeds & pickled chilli with smoked pig's cheek lardons - £6.50

Salon's sourdough doughnuts

Sourdough doughnuts and flat whites

We had a roomy table to ourselves, we didn't feel rushed, portions were generous, and everything was under a tenner. Bloody Marys are £5.50 compared to £15 at Duck & Waffle. What's the catch? 

...

No catch. Salon is the real brunch deal. I even went back the following week for more banana bread and doughnuts. Don't miss the 'nduja scrambled eggs - they're something else.

Did I mention that you can book? Call ahead on 02075019152 if you still remember how to ring people from your smartphone.


18 Market Row, Brixton, SW9 8LD

Photos on Flickr - click here

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Fields, Clapham Common - The One That's Literally In A Field


Fields is a funny little place, standing all alone on Clapham Common, like the poor kid that's been left behind after team captains have chosen their players. Except that on this occasion, they foolishly overlooked Lionel Messi, for there is some magical stuff going on in this tiny kitchen from the folk behind the outrageously popular Milk in Balham (another super brunch spot).

The menu is ever changing, but one dish that is always bound to be on there is their outstanding plate of poached eggs with Workshop Coffee's Cult of Done espresso hollandaise, and drycure bacon (or Hansen & Lydersen salmon) - one of the finest brunch dishes in the capital. There will also be a fair few smoked ingredients, as they do a lot of smoking on-site.

Here are some enticing examples from my most recent visit:

- Sprouted grain granola, suffolk yoghurt, smoked cos apple, cardamom, filo - £7.50
- Sourdough croque madame, gloucester old spot ham, smoked egg yolk, emmental - £9.50
- Carribean doubles, chickpea, plantain, tamarind ketchup, cucumber pickle - £8
- Ghetto omelette, seared wild mushrooms, burnt brie, black garlic marjoram - £9.20
- Masa breakfast taco, grilled octopus, smoked pumpkin mayo, spring green slawo - £9.20
- Peat-smoked lardy cake - £2.50 // - Pandan softserve & toffee popcorn - £3

Sourdough croque madame, gloucester old spot ham, smoked egg yolk, emmental - £9.50

Sourdough croque madame, gloucester old spot ham, smoked egg yolk, emmental - £9.50

Poached eggs with cult of done espresso hollandaise & drycure bacon - £8.50

Poached eggs with cult of done espresso hollandaise & drycure bacon - £8.50

Pandan softserve & toffee popcorn - £3

Fields is currently only open Friday-Sunday, from 9am-5pm (4pm on Friday), but check the website before you go to be safe. Wrap up warm, there's more space outdoors than in, and it's not the cosiest of cafés. But you'd be a fool to skip it on those grounds.

Fields - www.fieldscafe.com

2 Rookery Road, Clapham Common, SW4 9DD

Photos on Flickr - click here

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Flour To The People, Battersea - The One At The End Of My Road


No matter what I throw at you, your ideal brunch spot is probably still the one at the end of your road, right? In my case, that's Flour To The People on Battersea Park Road, a snug sourdough bakery and brunch café with see-through toasters on every table. 

If you want your money to go a long way, order Toast To The People - for £6.95, you have access to an endless supply of freshly baked sourdough, plus two sides, and homemade spreads. Alternatively, I can recommend the Eggs Benedict-ish that involves bacon, eggs, hollandaise and their own sourdough crumpets, and the Avo & Egg Slam - smashed avo, sweet chilli, lime, feta, and two poached eggs on sourdough. Both dishes are pictured below.

Avo & Egg Slam - smashed avocado with sweet chilli, lime, feta & two poached eggs on sourdough - £9.90

Eggs Benedict-ish - sourdough crumpets, 2 eggs, bacon & house made hollandaise - £8.75

Tie it in with a visit to Park Road Kitchen, Draft House Westbridge, Battersea Flower Station, and La Moka Café to make the most of an awkward trip. Swing by Battersea Park for a round of minigolf afterwards too.  If you are still in the area come the evening, Flour To The People have just started serving sourdough pizzas from 5pm-10pm. Read more here.

Flour To The People - www.flour2people.com

Breakfast / brunch served everyday from 8am

573 Battersea Park Road, Battersea, SW11 3BJ

Photos on Flickr - click here

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Here's a few more thoughts from my back catalogue / to-do list...

If you want to start early, get over to Dishoom from 8am on weekdays and 9am on weekends for their bacon naan rolls and chai.  Pimlico Fresh's french toast is second to none, and they open at 7.30am on weekdays (9am on weekends). Also, Ember Yard & Dehesa in Soho have just launched an enticing breakfast menu - read more here. Of course, Duck and Waffle is there for you at all hours!

Eggporn at Duck & Waffle

If you can make it through to 12pm, you should also get yourself over to Brunswick House in Vauxhall for their "weekend lunch", or Donostia Social Club in Pop Brixton as it opens, before the crowds descend.

Brunswick House

Donostia Social Club on Flickr

Top of my to-do list is The Good Egg in Stoke Newington. After a couple of successful years on the street food & popup scene, Joel Braham, Alex Coppard & co. successfully crowdfunded and opened an all-day Jewish soul food spot on Church Street. Pretty ashamed I haven't been in to say hello yet! 

Elsewhere, exciting brunch menus have appeared at Berber & Q, The Other Room, Shotgun. Street Kitchen London Fields, Kricket, and more. 

If you are more of a lie-in and Sunday roast fan, then look no further than Blacklock and Zelman Meats in Soho. Sorted.

Zelman Meats photos on Flickr

Happy eating!

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P.S. You may have noticed the word Flickr flying around. I've just started putting photos up there, and I will be updating it most days so please check it out here, and follow me if you have a Flickr account!

Crater Lake, Oregon

Tuesday, 23 February 2016

Carousel - Three Six Six - Flour To The People

Time for three overdue pre-Christmas treats, starting with Chef Ollie Templeton's fabulous feast at Carousel

Ollie is one of several talented Templetons behind the marvellous merry-go-round that is Carousel, and every now and then he gets to let loose after months of working closely with an eclectic collection of talented chefs. Just before Christmas, he took over the kitchen for three weeks and served up an exciting menu in beautiful surroundings.

One of my favourite London dining rooms

Pre-dinner drinks at Carousel's bar - Will You Be My Clementine Goose?

After a festively spiced clementine cocktail at the bar, we settled down for dinner at one of their stunning long tables. As a bonus, sommelier Matt was pairing our eats with unfamiliar natural wines, starting with Quierciole, Ca' de Noci (2013), a bottled fermented number from Emilia Romagna. This accompanied some moreish but dangerously filling bread and olive oil.

Then came four interesting small bites:

- Grilled Jerusalem Artichokes with Lemon Purée and Sorrel
- Tempura Brussels Sprouts with Mushroom Soy
- Pickled Sardines on Toast with Coriander
- Grilled Shallots on Homemade Manchego Crackers brushed with Butter & Spices

Citrus and butter made several strong appearances throughout the meal. To drink with our starters, a bottle of Anfora Bianco, Lammidia (2014), fermented and aged in clay pots (amphora), divided the table. A summer spent appreciating wild beers on the West Coast of USA meant that I was less surprised by the style.

Grilled Jerusalem artichokes with lemon purée and sorrel

Pickled sardines on toast with coriander

Grilled shallots on homemade manchego crackers brushed with butter & spices

A highlight was a glorious plate of Hokkaido Pumpkin with fish roe, dulse, pistachios and preserved lemon. My Japanese dining companion gave me a quick run down of the differences between squashes of the Hokkaido and Kabocha variety. I'll leave you to have a rummage through Google. Ours was grown in Essex, not quite as romantic as one might hope, but probably more practical.

A glass of Miss Terre, Domaine de la Sénéchalière - a Muscadet from South Britanny - went down very nicely indeed.

Hokkaido pumpkin, fish roe, dulse, preserved lemon and pistachios

My favourite tipple of the night though was the Lady Chasselas, Myl­ène Bru (2014), a white wine made from wild vines with a nose reminiscent of Cantillon. D.H.Lawrence also sprang to mind. This partnered an interesting plate of Cod, Salsify & Bergamot with cod skin, dehydrated miso, and cavolo nero.

Lady Chasselas, Mylène Bru (2014)

An extra course of Grilled Beef Rib, Charred Calcots and Fino Mayonnaise was a real treat. Most beef comes from 12-16 month old cows, but the stuff on our plate was from some wise old 5-6 year olds, and the depth of flavour was magnificent.

Also a hit were the calcots - Catalonian spring onions of sorts. I fully intend to get to Tarragona one day for the Calcotada, the annual harvest festival where "they are grilled over a hot fire, wrapped up in newspaper, served on terra cotta tiles, and eaten, after peeling with bare hands, by dipping them one by one in romesco sauce". Yes please.

To drink, Le Temps Retrouvé Mourvèdre (2013) was the perfect farmy accompaniment - a red wine with more than a whiff of blue cheese about it.

Grilled Beef Rib, Charred Calcots, Fino Mayonnaise

To finish, we were presented with a plate of Clementine and Buttermilk - or rather, buttermilk ice cream, clementine granita and a cleverly crafted buttermilk biscuit crumb, neatly bookending the meal with palate cleansing citrus. 

There was of course a final wine pairing too, Chinati Vergano's "Luli" (2015), a white chinato based on Moscato d'Asti from the Beras apparently. It's a lovely drop, but if you looking to buy me a present (hint hint : birthday is pretty soon), I'd rather have a bottle of their absurdly delicious Americano aperitif that I fell in love with at Original Sin a year or so ago. Thanks.

Clementine & Buttermilk

Clementine & Buttermilk

All in all, a fantastic evening of food and booze. Despite having only been to Carousel twice, it feels like home, and I look forward to many more meals there in the future. Speaking of which, here's what's coming up soon...

23rd-27th February - Olia Hercules - After her unforgettable ‘Wild East’ residency last summer, Olia is back with a Caucasian bang, introducing us to the joys of a traditional Georgian supra (literally, ‘table cloth’). 

In Olia’s own words, “The supra is a f****ing feast - they have a special toastmaster called tamada and it’s basically a 24 hour food and wine party with a sh*t load of toasting and polyphonic singing. It’s so amazing I actually considered moving to Tbilisi when I was there in October. Then I came back to London and came back to my senses.” Georgia’s loss is our gain… 

Olia’s Carousel menu - “mainly Georgian with pan-Caucasian and European twists” - will be paired with natural Georgian wines and wild beers. The perfect accompaniment to knockout, seasonal dishes like dyushbara, kharcho and tkhemali. 

1st-12th March - Rimpei Yoshikawa - With its neon lights, bustling crowds and relentless traffic, Shibuya, Tokyo, isn’t the most obvious place to find a laid back French bistro. But that’s the charm of Pignon, Rimpei Yoshikawa’s bohemian neighbourhood eatery specialising in soulful everyday dishes inspired by his travels through France and Morocco. 

Yoshikawa bid adieu to Tokyo’s fine dining scene and took himself off to Bordeaux five years ago for a change of scenery. It was there that he found his true calling, abandoning haute cuisine and adopting the simpler pleasures of the region’s hearty home-cooking like his own. 

The result? One of Tokyo’s most talked about restaurants and an ever-changing tour de force of surprising and delightful creations like Confit Aromatic Duck with Kinkan and Cumin, his signature Guacamole (coarse-mashed avocado seasoned with lime and jalapeño, topped with thinly sliced octopus and garnished with red onion, tomato and coriander) and his beloved Merguez Sausages with house-made Harissa and Couscous. 

Yoshikawa continues to broaden his horizons, following up a recent co-residency with Beard’s Shin Harakawa at iconic Californian restaurant Chez Panisse with his upcoming trip to Carousel, a first appearance in London for Rimpei and one that’s not to be missed. 

P.S. Don't forget that you can also book in for a very affordable Lunch by Carousel from 12pm-3pm, Tuesday to Saturday. Walk ins are also welcome.

Carousel - www.carousel-london.com

71 Blandford Street, Marylebone, London, W1U 8AB

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Now for some photos from a boozy, risqué evening at Three Six Six cocktail bar on St.John’s Hill. Ella and I went down to try out some pretty outlandish and entertaining cocktails from their Fantasy & Fetish menu that is only served from Sunday to Thursday.

As you can see below, there are some ridiculous props involved. It’s all very playful, and a great source of conversation provided that you’ve brought the right person along! Go easy on the viagra tonic.











More photos on Matt The Tumblr - Set 1 / Set 2

Highlights include:

- Moorish Nights - A beautifully presented cocktail with a yellow pepper savoury edge that emerged from a smoking chamber
- Frijoles Negros - A very drinkable passion fruit number that also involved black bean syrup and popcorn infused Jim Beam, ingeniously served in a plant pot, soil and all.
- Golden Shower - I won’t give too much away… let’s just say that umbrellas are provided.

Owner Eduardo de la Mora is a wonderful host and he makes a mean drink. If nothing on the bonkers Fantasy & Fetish list takes your fancy, there’s also an extensive regular menu smartly split into categories such as Sweet, Salty, Sour, Bitter, Organic and Umami.

Best of all, there's a section dedicated to Negronis. Eduardo’s Negroni featuring Ilegal Mezcal, Cynar and Campari is a treat for bitter enthusiasts, whilst the Colombian Negroni infuses Aperol with coffee beans. A return visit is required for a thorough investigation...

Colombian Negroni - Coffee beans infused Aperol, Colombian Dictador Aged Gin, Lille Rose & OLG Campari Tincture

Eduardo's Negroni - Ilegal Mezcal, Cynar, Campari, Hibiscus Tincture, Lemon, Artichoke

Three Six Six - www.threesixsix.co.uk

126 St.John's Hill, Battersea, SW11 1SL

Fantasy & Festish menu - Sunday-Thursday only

N.B. There is another Three Six Six in Earlsfield with the same drinks menu

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Whilst we're in Battersea, I'll finish up by drawing your attention to one of my favourite local eateries, Flour To The People.

See more brunch photos on Matt The Flickr

Having established themselves as a sourdough bakery and brunch spot early last year (with see-through toasters on every table!), they finally launched an evening sourdough pizza menu in December. They also recently had a rethink about the space and it looks better than ever.

£7.75 will get you a fine example of the Margherita genre with a pleasing bite to it. I chucked some rocket on for good measure. Other winners include the £12 Calzone with ricotta and salami dolce, and a £9.90 English Breakfast Pizza with smoked bacon and egg. We washed them down with local Sambrooks beers that were brewed about 500 metres away. N.B. If you live close enough, you can order their pizzas through Deliveroo if you are feeling lazy! We've already caved several times...

Margherita with Rocket at Flour To The People

Calzone with Ricotta and Salami Dolce at Flour To The People

To finish, their £8 dessert pizza with Nocciolata Crema Di Cacao E Nocciole (translation : posh nutella) is a worthwhile treat, and easily stretches to four people.

Quarter of a dessert pizza with posh nutella and vanilla ice cream

Flour To The People - www.flour2people.com

573 Battersea Park Road, Battersea, SW11 3BJ

Pizzas served from 5pm-10pm, 7 days a week

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London's pizza scene is going from strength to strength at the moment, and most of the new wave are keeping their prices nice and low, earning them a place on London Cheap Eats. Look out for Theo's, Made of Dough, Bona, Bravi Ragazzi, Sacra Cuore, 400 Rabbits and many more in the suburbs.

Theo's in Camberwell

Made of Dough in Brixton