It’s nearly a decade since I left London and moved back to Leeds, scary really as it feels like yesterday. I was there for less than two years but this was time well spent as it now means when I go back I can travel the tube like a local, I know lots of the hidden neighbourhood gems and I always have somebody to stay with! It feels like I’ve been up and down the East Coast mainline too many times of late – this is what comes of having free time now we’ve scaled back the supperclub! Anyway I thought I’d share with you some of my weekend tips for fun foodie things to do:
Dinner in Peru
Latin American food has really taken off in the UK, the latest additions to the scene being Martin Morales’ Peruvian beauties Andina and Ceviche. Ceviche is a cosy bar/ restaurant in Soho whilst Andina is a slightly roomier, more modern branch in Shoreditch. Food is served tapas style – my favourites being the amazing Ceviche Andina – full of sea bass, physallis and swimming in restorative tiger’s milk; the chocolo corn cake with uchatta sauce – soft, comforting and so moreish; and the salty, spicy pisco beef skewers. Be sure not to miss out on the house classic pisco sour for the true Peruvian experience.
Supperclubs with a twist
Ever keen to try supperclubs up and down the breadth of the country our latest visit was to Basement Galley. Previously run in his basement in Brixton, Alex has recently moved his foodie venture to a disused 1967 Victoria line tube train in Walthamstow. Lost in the back and beyond of suburban London this was truly a secret and bizarre experience! Sadly our meal was their last night aboard the train, but Alex has promised to be bringing the Galley back to a new and exciting venue soon, so keep your eyes peeled! We loved the bonkers palate cleanser of ‘gin’ jelly and ‘tonic’ sherbet that fizzed and excited the mouth, as well as the cheesy and comforting risotto balls. Bearing in mind that this was food prepared in a museum and a car park it was pretty top notch. What’s more drinks were supplied by pop up bar peeps Shot Tails providing decent wines and cocktails at non London prices! It was fun to drink wine aboard a tube now that Boris has banned it, but less fun clambering over everybody to get to the toilet!
Maltby Street Market
Nothing can prepare you for the wonder of Maltby Street Market, although the lovely sunny day probably helped secure its brilliance. Hidden up a Bermondsey back street it’s a foodie paradise full of stalls of streetfood and trendy cocktail and tapas bars. Go hungry so that you can fill up on the treats. It’s all laid out along a line of railway arches – industrial units by day, foodie heaven at the weekend! Everything is reasonably priced and not too big, meaning you can try lots. My favourites included the authentic Mexican tacos at £6 for three (chorizo and potato, beef, pork); the cheese shed grilled cheese sandwiches at £6; and Little Bird gin bloody mary’s at £5. The ultimate must do are the lush burgers from African Volcano. The patties are marinated and then grilled with their trademark peri peri sauces and then served up in a brioche bun that has been soaking in a gorgeous gravy/ sauce type thing and comes with all the trimmings such as cheese, salad, fried onions and pickles. This is the best burger I’ve ever tasted – moist, cheesy, spicy and FIT. At £8 they are at the top end of Maltby eats. They also do a pulled pork bun complete with crackling, and a burger/ pulled pork dirty combo. We shared ours so we could have as many things as possible. Next time I’m having one all for me. Maltby is open Saturdays and Sundays until about 4pm. The street is lined with lots of vintage tables and chairs so you can while away a lovely afternoon and scoff yourself silly.
I used to live near Kew but never went to the famous gardens. At the moment it’s 241 entry in Gardeners World Magazine or with your national rail tickets to London. It’s worth getting the deal as it’s about £16.50 in otherwise. The gardens are a treat in themselves – lots of tranquil spots for picnics and attractions such as the tree top walk where you get to walk on a see-through, wobbly platform amidst the tops of the trees. Breath-taking views and stomach churning heights! At present the Plantasia festival is on, the best bit of which is a gin greenhouse serving lots of refreshing botanicals. Run by London No. 3 gin (made with juniper, orange, grapefruit, coriander, cardamom and angelica – 3 fruits and 3 spices!) I went for the classic G+T with geranium – subtly aromatic. Do have a bit of a wander around Kew when you’re there. It’s a very clean and neat village in London – almost like a theme park it’s so pristine! At the station there’s a fab little baker’s stall selling all sorts of fresh breads, pastries and other sweet and savoury baked treats. We had a load of the mini Portuguese custard tarts – lovely! The train station pub is also worth a look in – light and airy with lots of decent ales on.
The latest restaurant on Fitzrovia’s Charlotte Street is Barnyard – a rustic, rurally themed eatery slap bang in the middle of the city. It got a less than glowing review in the Observer but we were still intrigued, give us a posh sausage roll and we’ll be there! The décor is a bit contrived – think rusty corrugated iron walls, splintering rough wood furniture and plaid shirts. It follows the trend of ordering as many small plates as you want. For me the pricing was a bit odd but the food was consistent. A highlight for me was a beautifully moist and smoky short rib. At £14 this was a tad steep, especially as it literally came as a sole slap of meat and no adornments. It was super fine eating though. The ‘Beyonce’ sausage roll was meaty, crispy and glazed to perfection. Our side of broccoli was smoked within an inch of its life, but all in all it was a meal we were satisfied with. A hit and miss experience but satisfying all the same, do try for something a bit different.
We stumbled upon Drakes sherry bar when we were exploring Charlotte street. It’s just round the corner from the Sam Smiths pub. The bar is stacked full of gigantic sherry barrels of all shapes and forms. We enjoyed a 20 year old nutty Amontillado, straight from the barrel. It was just what we needed for a sunny Saturday afternoon to help us pretend we were in San Sebastien!
The latest trend in public houses appears to be cooperatively owned ‘vintage’ style pubs, restored to look like time capsules from the 1940s! Full of shabby chic furniture, authentic parquet, tatty bunting and half plastered walls. They are a lovely, quaint venue to enjoy a pint in as an antidote to the traditional spit and sawdust London boozer. You have to head a bit out of town to track one down. Essentially they are pop up pubs in historic buildings that have fallen out of love. Places of note are the Catford Constitutional Club and the Ivy House in Nunhead. In Nunhead why not check out the gothic cemetery too… although not with a massive suitcase and banging hangover as I did. Do give these pubs a look in, not only do you get a much needed drink in a cool environment – you’re also helping out the independents and protecting local heritage. Enjoy!