Borough Plates

I’m sure I sound spoilt, but food reviewing is not always easy… after a couple of days of uninteresting eateries and dark rooms offering little photography options I was beginning to get downhearted about the job I know I am so lucky to have. Overeating in uninspiring restaurants is not much fun, but when you come across a venue presenting pretty, flavourful plates of seasonal British food my heart swells with excitement.

Borough Plates is a new pop-up from Cuisson and the Borough Market team that is housed in a beautiful 19th century building nearby to the market. The residency runs until March, with a tiny kitchen that uses seasonal produce from the market to create innovative and delicious plate of food.

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The set up is sparse but stunning. Using the natural light that floods in from the windows, and simple wooden tables, it is a cool contemporary space which lets the food do all the talking.

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The menu changes and evolves weekly dependent on produce available to the chefs. When I visited last week I tried locally made bread, wonderfully light Goujons of whiting with smoked garlic aioli and Pressed winter roots, suitable for vegans. It was the flavours of British winter, presented by chefs who truly know how to get the best out of the ingredients.

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The whole menu is designed for sharing. Of the larger plate section I particularly loved the delicate Poached brill with charred leek, chive and a buerre blanc sauce. It was the freshest piece of fish, treated with the utmost respect, and lightly complemented with a buttery herb sauce. Pork casserole with rainbow chard was a bowl of wintery comfort food, ideal after a cold morning wandering round the market.

Borough Plates

Dessert was a simple glass of ‘pretty-in-pink’ Rhubarb & custard, deliciously tart with a contrast of textures and tastes to cleanse the palate at the end of the meal.

My experience at Borough Plates was joyful. With so many other cuisines represented by the international restaurants at Borough Market, it feels like the right time for a British dining room to pop up. I’m wondering if I can return every week to review their new menu?

More information and book a table here.

Naughty Piglets, Brixton

Naughty Piglets is the kind of neighbourhood eatery you move flat to be nearer. The restaurant was set up by husband and wife team, Joe and Margaux Sharratt, in March 2016 who aim to provide visitors with a considered natural wine list and a frequently changing seasonal menu, based around charcoal grilled recipes. Needless to say the 34-cover venue is always packed, with locals, and those travelling from other areas of London to try out this winning combination.

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Inside the restaurant is modest but stylish, with eight bar seats which boast a kitchen view, for those who want to be closer to the action! We sat here and enjoyed observing the restaurant as a busy Friday evening unfolded. I let Margaux choose our wine, with sommelier experience from some of London’s most successful culinary spots I figured she would pick better than me. We tried a glass of two whites, a 2013 ‘La Rue aux Loups’ Chenin Blanc and the very unique 2014 Cheverny Tradition, from Domaine de Montcy. Both wonderfully refreshing and satisfying at the same time.

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The menu is short and sweet with options to suit every palate. Locals who visit often can relish different dishes each week as the recipes change with the produce available and the seasonality of ingredients. Roast Pumpkin with Goat’s Cheese and Parma Ham was a rustic dish of subtly complementing Autumn flavours, smokey chunks of fleshy pumpkin with salty ham and cheese. I can’t miss out on burrata if I see it on a menu, it is difficult to go wrong with a dollop of the creamiest soft cheese, but the version Joe has created is particularly lavish, served on a bed of perfectly seasoned caponata.

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From the meat and fish options we chose Scallops with Cauliflower and XO sauce, Beef Rump with bon marrow toast, shallots & watercress and BBQ pork belly with sesame and Korean spices, a favourite which has been on the menu since opening in March. Scallops were delicate and succulent paired with silky cauliflower puree and a hint of citrusy yuzu which cut through the richness of the dish. I loved the simple, slick presentation of the pork, but found the whole dish too salty, even with assortment of green vegetables. Silence fell over the table as we devoured the beef, an utterly delicious plate of wholesome British flavours, compiled in an elegantly French way.

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There were two decadent puddings to choose from, naturally we ordered one of each. Chocolate mousse with salted caramel and hazelnuts was like a grown-up Mars bar deconstructed on the plate, with oozing dangerously sweet caramel sauce and the smoothest mousse you could imagine. Baked vanilla cheesecake with figs was blissfully soft, topped with contrasting crunchy puffed rice and served with ruby red fig segments.

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I’m lucky enough to only be a short bus ride away from Naughty Piglets, and I can’t wait to spend more Friday evenings here, unwinding with a good glass of wine and a lot of completely delicious food.

More information and book a table at Naughty Piglets here.

Gastrologik, Stockholm

It has taken me a long time to write up my meal at Gastrologik as it is a challenge to put an experience like this into words. This pioneering restaurant in Stockholm opened in 2011, a labour of love from young chefs Jacob Holmstrom and Anton Bjuhr. Both men have a background of working in excellent kitchens but wanted to open their own eatery to offer diners a cuisine that celebrated the qualities of seasonal Nordic ingredients.

It was a chilly night when my mum and I stepped inside the small Stockholm restaurant. Gastrologik is located on the corner of a quiet residential street in the Ostermalm district and only seats about 30 guests in the cosy dining rooms. This is a place for keen foodies to relish and enjoy the finest Swedish cooking.

The chefs work meticulously at the open kitchen counter, using various utensils to delicately dress and arrange the dishes. We sat down at the last empty table, and observed our surroundings. The restaurant is clean and minimalist with white walls, oak floor and typically Scandinavian copper light shades, which add a touch of glamour. The menu is similarly stark, open the white menu card to reveal the cheeky message: ‘Let Today’s Produce Decide’, 1295 SEK. And just like that we gave up decision rights for the night and let the kitchen choose our food fate!

We had a vegetarian menu, approximately 13 courses of beautiful, clever and flavoursome food. First campfire bread sticks and Algae broth with lovage in a tiny glass teapot. It was magically evocative of a forest encounter. Smoky bread wrapped around thick twigs and warm comforting broth. Next came a range of intriguing bites, a touch of cheesy sweetness from Goat’s cheese from Lofsta with meringue and apple, a touch of the exotic with the Quail egg marinated in the housemade pea soy sauce. It was evident with each plate that every ingredient was carefully foraged and found from the surrounding environment. Raw mushrooms arranged into flowers with a cream of toasted yeast were exquisite in looks and taste.

Freshly made hot bread was delivered in a hemp pouch with luxuriously thick butter from Kittelberget. Every course was presented in an inventive and creative way. Root celery with nettles was an eccentric pile of contrasting textures and garden tastes. Roasted carrots with onions and truffles from Gotland is a celebration of the humble carrot, the vegetable is treated with such dignity, creating a complex caramelised dish that I loved. Baked egg with ramsons and malt was a bizarre dish, the poached egg was almost jelly-like with intensely flavoured malt sponge and ramsons (a distant relative of the chive).

The sweet courses began with a glass petri dish of circular apple specimens to cleanse and refresh the palate. Smoked beets with hay was perhaps the only course we found a little too bizarre to enjoy, and I noticed our neighbouring table pushing it around the plate too. Unless you adore the distinctive flavour of beetroot this is a tricky dish, especially paired with shards of white chocolate and the hint of hay. Celery root with caramel and whey was a more tempting dessert and we enjoyed the crunchy topping combined with the smooth caramel decadence. Just before we could mourn the end of this exceptional meal, a bowl of pine arrived in which mouthfuls of pine vodka were hidden. The powerful flavours burst in our mouths, like a gasp of tingling cold forest air.

The lovely waiter brought along a wooden box of dried ingredients so we could create our very own blend of herb tea. I didn’t choose the best combination but loved the personalised process nonetheless.

Gastrologik cannot help but inspire diners, with their innovative kitchen ethics and love of produce in the purest form, every meal here is different. The chefs told me that sometimes the menu can even change halfway through the service when one item runs out. So despite reading my detailed review, you never know what will arrive in front of you. Gastrologik offers an exhilarating experience, a culinary journey that I will never forget.

More information and book a table here.