Monday, 29 February 2016

Naughty Piglets

This Little Piggy 

This little piggy went to market and found something rather special. By 'market', this little piggy means she took the tube to Brixton and trotted down the road to Tulse Hill in search of Naughty Piglets and another cheeky little piggy who'd also been dying to check it out.

Opening without much fuss or faff but plenty of acclaim to those in the know, Naughty Piglets is simply one of those places that just does it right. Almost instantly you know it's going to bring joy to your day and add an extra spring to your step. My fellow piggy couldn't have agreed with me more!


Perched unassumingly on Brixton Water Lane, wine bar and charcoal grill, Naughty Piglets was set up by French super couple, Margaux Aubry (Terroirs) and Joe Sharratt (The Trinity). With that sort of experience, we were always going to be in for something special. The weekly changing menu and seasonal dishes cleverly persuade you to keep coming back for more. Cheeky!


An open kitchen to peer into and a beautifully smooth wooden bar to watch from, sets the scene in this duck egg washed interior. It has one of those immediately relaxing atmospheres and you won't be disappointed by the stunning creations that the kitchen produces.

If you are sharing (unless otherwise requested), each dish arrives separately so you can properly savour the creations one by one.

We started with the croquettes (£4), crispy mouthfulls of creamy potato and salty pieces of ham. More of these little guys were ordered 'to go' at the end of the meal. Yes, that good! Laden up a conveyor belt of these beauties and you've got two very happy piglets!


Onto grilled pear with artichoke crisps, hazelnut and blue cheese (£7), which has reminded me just how bloody great pears can be. Onwards and upwards you fruity friends! Not being attuned to blue cheese yet, this dish was devoured by piggy no2 who proclaimed it to be one of her favourite dishes ever. High praise from a trustworthy source!


I decided to be a little adventurous in my selection and went for the Boudin Noir, Cuttle Fish and Capers (£9). While I'm not a raving fan of black pudding (making my choice seem somewhat reckless), here is a dish I'd eat time and time again. The citrus chewiness of the cuttlefish complemented the meaty texture beneath and had me well and truly converted.


The Roast Cod, Peanut and perfectly seasoned Dashi broth (£12) was our next creative culinary adventure. The fish was flakey and melt in the mouth with the peanut buttery whip adding that extra bite and crunch to the dish. 


BBQ Pork Belly, Sesame and Korean Spices (£10) was the final winner on this menu of champions. Tumbling apart with a sauce that we definitely didn't want to dip our fingers into, this dish was a superb ending to a fabulous feast.


This time, stomach space and time restraints didn't allow for dessert or to taste the impressive natural wine selection, which just means a return trip is completely necessary (no complaining there)!



So you naughty little piglets, you just keep doin' what you're doin', we absolutely love it!


Opening hours 
Tuesday 6-10pm
Wed-Thurs 12pm-2.30pm and 6pm-10pm
Fri-Sat 12pm-3pm 6-10 
Sunday 12pm to 4pm


28 Brixton Water Lane, London SW2 1PE
020 7274 7796 

Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Shackfuyu

Shack Is Back 

Bone Daddies has long held a place in my heart, be it for their 'rid-one-of-all-ills' Ramen or the entertainment of an evening at Flesh & Buns. The latest addition to the clan is Shackfuyu which after spending a little while as one of those permanent pop-ups, is now just permanent. Huzzah! The cuisine is Japanese, but has chosen to exclude sushi from it's menu and focus on meatier offerings using sticky sweet sauces and sprinklings of sesame.


Vibe wise, if you're looking for something buzzing from the sounds of hungry happy people, you've come to the right place. It's available for bookings and right on the edge of Soho for when you're ready to embark on the rest of your night (Bar Termini cocktails just across the street would be a great place to start).




The food here is really just finger licking great. I'd advise dragging a couple of accomplices along and share everything so you can get a real taste of the menu. 
From sticky chicken wings with just the right amount of spice, to steak-filled soft, fluffy Bao's (lunchtime only), everything was a hit on my visit. 



Special mention must go towards the prawn toast which was light, puffy and bursting with flavour, a serious hit and nothing like the oil drenched oil that springs to mind when seeing prawn toast on the takeaway menu!


We also opted for some sweet potato fries and flat iron steak as a really unnecessary main dish (by this time, we were already stuffed) but when it arrived accompanied by pickled cabbage and ginger, there was no stopping our hasty forks.



Rumours of the excellent soft serve ice cream and kinako french toast for dessert will draw me back in no time I'm sure but we'd gone over board and somehow couldn't locate our pudding stomachs on this occasion! 


The Shack is most certainly back! Grab a bunch of mates and call to book a table on 0207 734 7492.


Location

14a OLD COMPTON ST
LONDON, W1D 4TJ

Opening Times

Mon 12-3pm/5.30-10pm
Tues to Fri 12-3pm/5.30-11pm
Sat 12pm-11pm
Sun & Bank Holidays
12pm-9pm

Tuesday, 2 February 2016

The Vaults

Mardi Gras-ing Carnivarle style with Kansas Smitty's & Shotgun Carousel!

It's of absolutely no secret to those who know me, that I'm a little bit of a dressing up fiend. Give me some face paints, an excuse to wear them and I'm already going way over board designing a costume that will be incredibly difficult to move in and probably take hours to make. Cat ears can take a hike. I'm about all the feathers, all the fabulous and all the fun.  


If this rings true to any of you then you're going to love what's going on at The Vault in Waterloo this weekend. If you're of the 'cat ears' variety, it'll be a whole load of fun for you too (but if you see me, expect to have glitter thrown your way)!


Shotgun Carousel and the ever wonderful gypsy jazzing Kansas Smitty's have teamed up to invite everyone to join them to celebrate Mardi Gras where the carnival spirit of the Deep South will be fizzing through everyone's feet! It's late night, it's jazzai, it's a New Orleans-style musical parade with all the dancing and delights on the South Bank. What more could you wish for on your Friday/ Saturday night?!

Get your crazy costume on and get ready for the ride, it's going to be super!



 Book your tickets here for Friday or Saturday (10pm - 3am) and hop on board.


There'll be prizes for the most outlandishly dressed and the King and Queen of Mardi Gras will be crowned!



The event also raises awareness for Backyard Gardeners Network, which is a nonprofit organisation, based in New Orleans’ Lower 9th Ward neighbourhood, helping to build a stronger community through the cultural tradition of growing food. http://backyardgardenersnetwork.org

So, go find your flair, hunt for this pair and I'll see you there!


(Didn't I say I loved face painting?!)


Monday, 1 February 2016

Hoppers

Something Sri Lankan

Hoppers has created quite a storm of late, one of those ‘once you pop’ places that will draw you back time and again. In what used to be Koya on Frith street, the general concept is that of spruced up Sri Lankan with spicy DIY curries in thin pancake-esque rice-based .. pancakes called dosas and bowl shaped hoppers (it’s all in the name)!


While it is another addition to Soho’s no reservations quota, they have joyfully signed up to Qudini which lets you leave your name and number for them to alert you when your table is ready. Hurrah, then you can slip in a sneaky pre-dinner dram from Milroys or a glass of vino from the recently opened 68 & Boston just round the corner while you wait.


Adding Hoppers to their seriously successful lists of accolades (Lyles, Bubbledogs, Bao and Gymkhana to name just a handful), restauranteur trio Karam, Jyotin and Sunaina Sethi have brought Soho something it never realised it was missing and let’s all be glad they did!


We tumbled inside out of the cold and were greeted by a menu that required some explanation. Lucky for us and thanks to Hoppers, a handy little glossary is written to assist in those less well versed in Sri Lankan dialect.



The interior was immediately enveloping. Warm wooden panelling and cascading pot plants surrounded the wicker woven chairs and dimmed lighting kept everything cosy. It's the sort of place you can slip into and disappear amongst the buzz and bustle (if you can get a table that is)!



To start our adventure, we chose a couple of numbers from the "Short Eats." Some steamed rice noodles aka String Hoppers which were served with little bowls of a coconut fish sauce or Kiri Hodi and Pol Sambol, a kind of relish with coconut, onion and a hint of chilli. Part dip, part sprinkle, part pour, part mush. This set the trend for the rest of the meal.



Duck Roti with some dunking Rasa was munched up, slightly crispy and just the right amount of kick. It's exciting to taste a totally new cuisine, not to say that you can't find Sri Lankan elsewhere in London, (in fact I hear it's also great at Apollo Banana Leaf in Tooting) but for me, this was time number one and I bladdy loved it!



Before embarking on the main name of the game, I spied this superb wall of fun. Entering sneakily into my subconscious, I definitely dreamt about crazy carnivals and freaky creatures that night, but I digress. 



Enter the Hopper's and the Dosa's, fermented rice batter and coconut milk pancake/ crumpet bowls and wraps. You've really got to taste it to work out exactly how it works, because it does work; it works very well indeed!

Step 1) - Choose your hopper or dosa base (plain or egg)




Step 2) Pick your Kari (curry), for us it was lamb (£10) and fish (£9.50) 



Step 3) Add the chutney and/ or relish 



Step 4) Probably don't pay £1 for a tiny bowl of yoghurt and ask them to lay off the spice a bit instead (Sri Lankan's like it hot)!

So there you have it, some dunking, dipping and splodging later, we had our DIY curries, wrapped in the coconutty pancakes and dripping all over the shop. Don't throw all caution to the wind, this isn't quite finger food, but a happy, be it messy middle ground of half fork/ half hope to make it to your mouth in time kindof deal.

To round everything off and being the curious types we are, it had to be the Durian Ice Cream (surely they wouldn't put it on the menu if they hadn't found a way of persuading sceptical diners that it wasn't in fact the smelliest fruit in the world)! Served inside a Milk Hopper with a treacly Kithul & Jaggery, it was really pretty delicious.



And there ended our little trip to Sri Lanka in Soho. Along came the bill in a coconut shell which we definitely didn't send flying across the table to one another.



Winning rave reviews from all over the internet, Hoppers has quickly planted itself in the hearts of all who visit. A return trip is certainly in order to navigate further through the menu!


Location
49 Frith Street, W1D 4SG (no bookings)

Opening Times
 Mon-Sat noon-2.30pm & 5.30pm-10.30pm

hopperslondon.com