Aside, Peckham

There are new eateries opening up in Peckham almost every week. Aside is the newest venue from the team that brought us Old Spike Coffee Roasters, but offers so much more than a good flat white…

Aside PeckhamAside Peckham

This neighbourhood eatery is found within the former Peckham Assembly site, a community space established in 1986. The dining room, which seats 35, has a basic but stylish design, I particularly liked the two-tiered tables which conceal the plates and cutlery on the lower level.

Aside Peckham

The drinks bar at Aside is already garnering a good reputation. The team here have carefully selected spirits they love and used them to create innovative and creative concoctions, perfect with food or alone. Try a whisky based Rob Roy or Aside’s take on a classic Old Fashioned.

Aside PeckhamAside PeckhamAside Peckham

Along with the strong cocktails, Aside serves up vibrant food which focuses on local produce and seasonal ingredients. Particularly memorable was the creamy burrata with perfectly ripe peaches and the pretty and zesty seabass ceviche. I also loved the beautiful Bulls heart tomato with a light but intense lovage dressing, a reminder of the dwindling summer season.

Aside PeckhamAside Peckham

For a more substantial dish the Cod with girolles and corn was a gorgeously buttery dish. The fillet was perfectly cooked and fell apart, paired with chunks of sweetcorn and woody mushrooms. An indulgent but light plate of food. Beetroot & nasturtium was a colourful side dish, though it would have complemented a meat recipe better than the subtle fish dish.

Aside PeckhamAside Peckham

Desserts were the weakest part of the meal. There were two simple options and we tried one of each: Chocolate & raspberries and Blackcurrant & buttermilk. The fruity blackcurrant pudding looked pretty but tasted unexceptional with a strange combination of textures. The chocolate dessert was visually unappealing but would be a hit with chocolate lovers.

I loved the Aside experience and want to go back to try the weekend lunch menu… when it will be early enough to also indulge in a few cups of South-East London’s best coffee.

More information and book a table at Aside here.

Ynyshir Restaurant & Rooms, Machynlleth, Wales

I knew Wales was a decent drive from my flat in South London, but I definitely hadn’t factored in a five and a half hour trek when I’d booked in to review Ynyshir in Machynlleth. But I can assure you it was worth every minute on the motorway for this staggeringly good meal, and I highly recommend you all make the pilgrimage too.

Ynyshir Restaurant & Rooms

Ynyshir Restaurant and Rooms, used to be Ynyshir Rooms and Restaurant, but when the previous owner passed away Chef Gareth Ward (previously worked with Sat Bains and at Hambleton Hall) saw the opportunity to transform this beautiful venue into a culinary destination.

The restaurant, now the focus of the business, has been nicely redecorated in dark shades with minimalist furniture.

Ynyshir Restaurant & RoomsYnyshir Restaurant & Rooms

The motto at Ynyshir is “Ingredient Led. Flavour Driven. Fat Fuelled. Meat Obsessed”. It excited me enormously to read this bold statement, especially as the rest of the world seems to be going intolerence mad. Here in Wales they still like to cater for people who just really love food.

There are only tasting menus on offer – a nine course lunch for £55 per person or a nineteen course dinner for £110 per person. The menu champions local produce but also shows Gareth’s fascination with Japanese flavours and techniques. Even the simplest dishes are done to perfection at Ynyshir, a freshly baked 7-day proved sourdough bread was served as a course with cultured butter and Welsh Wagyu Dripping.

Ynyshir Restaurant & RoomsYnyshir Restaurant & Rooms

Gareth is a magician with meat, and these are the dishes that truly stood out. Wagyu Beef from the area features heavily, and every mouthful was heaven. A miniature Wagyu burger with sourdough mayo and pickled lettuce and a BBQ Shortrib of Wagyu beef with shitake mushrooms, puffed rice and sea lettuce. The kitchen is tiny, but the team use clever equipment to truly do justice to the produce from the region.

I also loved the two part lamb dish… Rib of mountain lamb with red onion and mint followed by Welsh lamb loin with kobucha, mint and lamb jus. The meat was beautiful and the contrasting Asian flavours cut through the richness perfectly.

Ynyshir Restaurant & Rooms

I was happy to receive the tomato dish, a short break from the calorific courses of meat. Wonderfully prepared seasonal tomatoes from the Isle of Wight with a little crunch from sourdough croutons and a smokiness from the smoked oil.

Ynyshir Restaurant & RoomsYnyshir Restaurant & Rooms

The desserts kept coming… a simple blueberry dish, where the ingredient was prepared in three ways, a punchy palate-cleanser. Tiramisu was a work of art, deconstructed down to delicate little elements, and the kitchen’s take on STP (Sticky Toffee Pudding) was a saccarine sweet treat, even though there was only one mouthful of it!

Ynyshir Restaurant & RoomsYnyshir Restaurant & Rooms

Before we finished our meal I couldn’t resist asking to try the famous Wagyu Ynyshir beef fat fudge… it was very rich but absolutely delicious, and made me wonder why it’s not a fudge recipe that’s used more often.

Ynyshir Restaurant & Rooms

Ynyshir are serious about their coffee too. We enjoyed a fragrant and fruity cup of drip coffee in the lounge after our meal.

Ynyshir Restaurant & Rooms

Along with the restaurant there are 9 bedrooms at Ynyshir if you choose to stay. The main house has six traditional rooms that have a cosy and homely feel. In the garden there are three brand new rooms, which have amazing floor to ceiling windows offering views of the verdant surrounding gardens.

Ynyshir Restaurant & Rooms

The surrounding area is beautiful, ideal for a long post-lunch walk, which you’ll need after indulging in Gareth’s rich and decadent food.

It feels like Ynyshir is on the brink of stardom. With four AA rosettes, a Michelin star and the number one spot for Wales in the recent Good Food Guide, there has never been a better time to book a trip to Machynlleth!

More information and book a table at Ynyshir here.

Smoke + Salt, Pop Brixton

Smoke + Salt is the newest pop-up to find a home at Pop Brixton. Innovative chefs Aaron and Remi use ancient cooking techniques like smoking and salting to create imaginative and unique flavours. They received rave reviews for their previous pop-ups and have deservedly found a longer term venue in this vibrant South London food market.

Smoke and Salt

The kitchen spaces at Pop Brixton are very limited so both food and drinks menus have to be condensed to fewer dishes. But I was impressed at Smoke + Salt to see three creative cocktails on offer and an eclectic range of small savoury dishes (all meant for sharing). Our favourite drink was the Boston Sour, a whisky based short cocktail with a herby kick of sorrel.

Smoke and SaltSmoke and SaltSmoke and SaltSmoke and Salt

Smaller plates arrived first, Sourdough bread (from the old post office bakery) with malt butter – an irresistibly yeasty, salty butter which reminded me of marmite. Summer Tomato Salad with heritage tomatoes and smoked ricotta was a perfectly simple and seasonal treat… the fresh sweet tomatoes paired with a decadent smoky rich cheese. I also loved the Rilette-style Duck with duck jam, grilled flatbreads and lavender. The pulled duck meat was full of flavour, seasoned with a zingy hint of floral lavender.

Smoke and SaltSmoke and SaltSmoke and Salt

The larger plates were full of colour and vibrancy. The Trombetta Courgettes with toasted seed & walnut crumble and summer savoury dressing was a triumph, a brilliant combination of textures and flavours which made me realise how versatile courgettes are. The Miso & Honey Glazed Lamb Belly was a meaty extravagance, high quality slow cooked meat oozing with flavour served with english pea tartare and a pickled gooseberry dressing. It was an unusual but successful mix of ingredients.

Smoke and Salt

Dessert shouldn’t have worked, but it really did, in fact it might have been my favourite dish of the night… sweet seasonal amarillo peaches with english strawberries and sweetcorn. The base was a comforting custard made from the cooked sweetcorn, topped with lightly charred peaches, crunchy popcorn, finely diced strawberries and fragrant tarragon leaves. It was punchy but summery, a lovely palate cleanser for the end of the meal.

Many are mourning the departure of Kricket on this site in Pop Brixton but in my opinion Smoke + Salt is a more than worthy replacement.

More information and book a table here.