Plot, Tooting

Plot restaurant is an indication of the rapid regeneration of Tooting. Located within the grubby Tooting Market, this new little eatery is rather more upmarket than it’s surroundings, and the young trendy locals living in the area seem very pleased about its arrival.

Plot Tooting

The open plan kitchen and counter gives an inclusive and friendly feel, not dissimilar to many of the boutique restaurants popping up all over Brixton. It is the first restaurant from cousins Mark Kimber and Harry Smith who seem relaxed and happy behind the bar and stove.

Plot Tooting

The menu offers ‘small plates of modern British food’, a description I’m seeing more and more across London which I think translates to… creative seasonal cooking with local ingredients. We started with crusty fresh bread and homemade marmite butter, which was so good I could happily have eaten it without the bread.

Plot TootingPlot Tooting

The short menu is ideal for a group of four, order everything once and fight over the last few mouthfuls. Between two of us we managed four plates and a couple of desserts.

The menu changes regularly depending on what the team get fresh from local traders. My favourite was the Harissa goat ragu with Roast aubergine and cucumber yoghurt, a wonderfully flavoursome reduced meaty sauce coated a thick slice of aubergine with a refreshing yoghurt accompaniment. It illustrated just how delicious goat can be and made me promise myself to cook with this unique meat at home more.

I also really enjoyed the Wye Valley asparagus with homemade Romanesco and lemon oil, a lovely British dish with vibrant flavours. I found the Grilled Tunworth with truffle honey and pickled mushrooms confused as a combination of flavours, overpoweringly sweet and strong. Shetland scallops were cooked to perfection and paired with celeriac and apple. On the whole I found the food tasty and exciting but I think the presentation could be improved as some of the plating looked a little lazy.

Plot Tooting

A Gooseberry Bakewell tart with clotted cream was a tasty if simple dessert. Dark Chocolate Mousse with milk ice-cream, strawberry and mint coulis was more decadent but too rich to finish.

There is a great drinks list of carefully selected wines and craft beers, so be sure to let the guys choose you something to go nicely with your meal.

More information and book a table at Plot here.

A Rutte Distillery Experience in Dordrecht

I knew little about genever was when I was invited to visit Rutte Distillery in Dordrecht. All I did know was that this mysterious spirit was the predecessor to gin, a very familiar spirit to me! I later found out that genever, and more specifically Rutte Genever, is a specialist malted grain-based spirit which originates from particular areas of Holland and Belgium. The spirit is clear and botanically rich, and is a blend of two of more distillates: a juniper-infused distillate and malt wine. Many consider it to be a cross between whiskey and gin. It can be served straight up or within a more complex cocktail.

Rutte

And so a group of us embarked on a journey to Holland to discover more about the Rutte range of genevers and gins. The Rutte company was founded in 1872 by Simon Rutte in Dordrecht near Rotterdam and is famously the smallest distillery in the Netherlands.

It was fascinating to visit the historic house where Rutte Genever started and still today is produced. We toured the tiny distillery (which is found below the little old-fashioned shop) with the knowledgeable Master Distiller Myriam Hendrickx… here the genever and gin is made using the traditional method; blending exotic botanicals and ingredients to produce a spirit which is completely unique and distinctive in quality and taste.

Rutte

The Rutte team organised a wonderful 24-hour itinerary in Rotterdam and Dordrecht, the perfect Holland mini-break, where we got to experience a few of the fine food and drink experiences which use the Rutte brand with such innovation and flare.

In Rotterdam we enjoyed a special meal at FG Food Labs, a creative Michelin-starred restaurant that presented a meal of food and cocktail pairings. Tuna ceviche with Yuzu vinaigrette (Japanese mayonaise, spicy tomato, hoisin, sweet-and-sour celery, tapioca krupuk & squid ink) was paired with the Luscombe Lime Crush cocktail (a mix of Luscombe St. Clements, Rutte Celery Gin, and Pink Peppers) and Poussin de Loire (with merquez de Turqui sausages, seasonal vegetables, rosemary, lemongrass, ginger & garlic) was matched with a spicy Loopuyt Ginger Beer concoction (Luscombe Lime Crush, Old Simon’s Genever, Juniper berries and Rosemary). The food dishes were thoughtfully and creatively prepared but I found the cocktails a little sweet and overpowering.

Rutte

After dinner we were treated to an extra special round of drinks at the city’s award-winning prohibition bar, Dr. Rotterdam. This immaculate little bar has strict rules, first and foremost: no phones and no photos, to ensure the mood is maintained and the secrets kept within the walls of the bar. It was a great relief to enjoy the drinks without the usual pressure of ‘getting the perfect instagram shot’. Here we sampled a range of seasonal cocktails as well as the 2017 Official Cocktail Competition winning drink, a recipe which includes Rutte Genever created by Zachary Faden of Mirabelle in Washington D.C.

Rutte

On the second day in Holland we had the opportunity to try some of Dordrecht’s speciality foods: cheese from Gert Jan De Kaasboer, raw Herring from the street stalls and chocolate from ‘Njoy Chocolate shop. My favourite thing we tried was at Vissers Poffertjes, a much-loved cafe serving traditional tiny Dutch pancakes coated in icing sugar and Rutte Genever!

After just 24 (sunny) hours in Holland it was clear to see just how many uses the unique and delicious Rutte Genever can have. I know some of London’s best restaurants (Hoppers, for example) and bars are already beginning to introduce this incredible spirit into their cocktail and spirit repertoire and I can’t wait to see more Rutte on menus soon.

More information on Rutte Genever and gin here.

We stayed at the characterful Hotel New York in Rotterdam, which has spacious rooms, plenty of personality and a lovely location on the waterfront.

Best Food in Lisbon

When I travel to a foreign destination a new hunger is ignited to find the very best hidden gems and city specialities, to share with my readers but also to satisfy my intrigue. Withlocals offers a unique opportunity to discover a truly special experience with a real local from the region. Dependent on your interests you can join bespoke tours which will introduce you to a plethora of unspoilt and untouristy places.

Lisbon Food

Lisbon is the perfect example. The Portuguese capital has so much to offer, but it is tricky to navigate alone. The food scene here is a mix between haute cuisine from chefs like Jose Avillez and casual street food in the Timeout market. My favourite meals include the spectacular cuisine at Belcanto where Jose has been awarded two michelin stars for his special interpretation of Portuguese flavours and produce. For a more authentic and light-hearted evening head to Taberna da rua das Flores where you can sit in a small dining room tasting home-cooked goodness.

Snails

Withlocals have a few unmissable tours worth considering when you are looking into things to do in Lisbon. These completely customisable and available in a variety of languages. There are two tours which particularly caught my attention:

Lisbon food

Lisbon Food Tour: The Ten Tastings

This exciting tour will take you on a gastronomic voyage round the city. Offering a comprehensive menu of the very best traditional Portuguese dishes and ingredients. This immersive culinary experience will include tasters of classic sardines and, of course, the best (local) Pasteis de Nata in town. The tour can be adjusted according to diet and preference so it will he relished by all.

Lisbon food and wine

Flavours of Lisbon: Wine & Tapas Tour 

Lisbon is home to many wonderful food producers and wine makers. On the Wine & Tapas tour you will be treated to 4 delicious drinks and 4 bites from around the city. The local will tell you the best tips for enjoying the Lisbon nightlife and you will have the opportunity to get some of the best street shots of this atmospheric destination.

Pasteis De Nata

If you have specific requests the tour guides can cater to these (you will find these filters and instant chatting facilities on the website) but I recommend letting the local expert take control and take you to their favourite places.