Coq D’Argent, Blossom City

Walking out from the lift in Coq D’Argent the feeling of summer rushed back to me. A hazy warm evening, friends and colleagues toasting merrily with G&Ts and foliage everywhere lightly scenting the air. This rooftop restaurant in the city is currently celebrating the season of Spring with their #BlossomCity menu. Coq D’Argent have collaborated with iconic florists McQueens to create a unique terrarium installations based on the Coq D’Argent rooftop garden designs of award-winning Chelsea Flower Show designer, Arabella Lennox-Boyd.

We joined the throng of suited drinkers out on the balcony, and enjoyed a glass of champagne whilst admiring the epic skyline of London in front of us. I was amazed to see how early this venue gets busy, by 7pm the place was full, both bar and restaurant were buzzing with enthusiastic guests enjoying the blissful weather and soaking up the special Coq D’Argent atmosphere.

The Blossom City set menu, though concise, has a range of fresh Spring dishes created by head chef Damien Rigollet and inspired by the flowers and flavours of this time of year. I adored the roasted Quail with sweet pea flowers, pancetta, celeriac, apple puree and black truffle jus. I thought the complicated list of ingredients might ruin the subtle poultry, but it worked brilliantly with the perfectly cooked meat and crispy, salty pancetta. For a lighter starter, opt for the Baked Poitou goat’s cheese with heritage beetroot, honey and hazelnuts. This soft cheese is encased in breadcrumbs giving a lovely crunchy edge and presented on a bed of sweet beetroot chunks, puree and micro herbs. I found the honey slightly overpowering with the rich cheese and sweet beetroot, though I’m sure most will enjoy this typical pairing.

We had already spotted the impressive lamb shank on a nearby table, and the dish was not a disappointment. A hearty hunk of tender meat with potato puree and spring onion, it was a huge portion but the caramelised soft meat was difficult to leave! I ordered the vegetarian main course, a Provencal tarte with courgette flower and goat’s cheese tempura. Courgette flowers are hard to find in London eateries, a delicacy I love in the South of France, so when I spotted them on the menu I couldn’t resist ordering the dish. The tarte needed a little extra seasoning but looked immaculate and the flower was a lovely touch, oozing melted goat’s cheese when cut.

Desserts were an utter delight. Pretty plates adorned with edible flowers and exotic fruits. We tried the vanilla poached pineapple with crystallised violet petals and coconut sorbet which was a light and refreshing dessert that reminded me of my holiday in Thailand by the beach. The coffee pudding was a hit with my friend who polished it off speedily with a big smile on her face. An arrangement of contrasting coffee textures of biscuit, mimosa balls, crumble, fudge and sorbet were delicately placed in a glass bowl and topped with coffee mousse. But if you try only one option from the dessert menu go for the Granny Smith apple parfait. A beautiful spherical imitation apple filled with a zingy and creamy parfait.

Even when the weather isn’t fine, the Coq D’Argent restaurant will transport you away to a world of elegant dining and delicious food.

The #BlossomCity menu is available for lunch and dinner, Monday-Friday. It costs £28 for two courses or £32 for three courses. Continues until 14 June, more information here.

Spring Peckham Pop-ups

Peckham is a fertile temporary home for pop-up ventures, with plenty of disused buildings to transform and a crowd of eager locals willing to try anything. And as the warm weather approaches, South London is beginning to boom again with markets, events and short-term food and drink offerings. Here are a few fleeting foodie fixtures I’ve discovered in my neighbourhood of Peckham recently.

Crust Conductor – the concept is simple… wood-fired pizza on a stationary double decker bus! The retro London Leyland Titan 1980s bus is found next door to Peckham Rye Station and is open for business all day Saturday and Friday nights. For the ultimate party you can hire the whole bus from Thursday-Sunday. Jonny Henfrey from popular Peckham pub The Gowlett uses a wood-fire oven within the vehicle to create cheesy delights. For a thirst-quenching drink buy a beer from Brick Brewery just outside the bus, the perfect pizza accompaniment. Pizzas start at £6, I loved the Spanish Archer with chorizo, chargrilled peppers and garlic (£8).

Burger Bear – I’d heard of this elusive burger company from fellow foodies, but had never made it along to one of its obscure market spots. Now that it’s got a residency in The Old Nun’s Head pub, I was the first in line to try the juicy burgers. This friendly pub is hosting the Burger Bear team every Monday and Tuesday 6-10pm and Saturdays 12-10pm. The BB boys like to keep it local, all their meat is sourced from South London butchery Flock & Herd. I recommend the sloppy and indulgent ‘Grizzly Bear’, a cheeseburger topped with double oak smoked bacon and Burger Bears Bacon Jam, £10.

Forza Win – Forza Win aims to create “awesome Italian cuisine using seasonal British ingredients”. The company has been around for a few years, touring London using neglected but atmospheric spaces and serving up flavoursome seasonal food. Last month the team came back to their Peckham homeland with a new concept: Spring Chickens. For £35 a head you will get a five course feast, featuring the ‘100 day chicken’. Or for something cheap and casual, every Wednesday you can just turn up for a bowl of pasta and glass of wine for £10.

Frank’s – London’s most popular seasonal rooftop bar is reopening in May ready for another summer of fun. Trek up to the top of the multi-storey carpark, grab an Aperol Spritz from the bar and enjoy the hazy views of London’s skyline.

For more ideas of things to do in Peckham see my post here.

Spring, Somerset House

Skye Gyngell is known for her Michelin success at the leafy oasis of Petersham Nurseries, but she has left suburbia for the thrill of the city, opening her first solo venture, Spring this year. The 100 cover eatery occupies a lovely 19th century drawing room in Somerset House, which has been closed to the public for the last 150 years, while occupied by the Inland Revenue.

The restaurant focusses on ingredient led cooking, and though the location has changed, Skye’s menu is still inspired by nature and gardens. Many of the products, including breads and cheeses are made onsite. The grand historic dining room has been beautifully restored to match the light seasonal cooking with carefully designed textured walls, pastel shades and fresh delicate lighting.

After enjoying the homemade wholegrain bread and thick whipped butter we turned our attention to the menu. The recipes have an obvious Mediterranean influence, especially my favourite starter, the delicious and vibrantly flavoured Pappardelle with nduja, rocket and mascarpone. The homemade pasta was cooked al dente, just as I like it, with a thick creamy sauce with a spicy kick from the soft Italian meat and a peppery hint from the tendrils of rocket.

The main courses are eye-wateringly expensive (between 24 and 35 pounds) but the large portion sizes partially make up for the price tag. Braised shin of veal with preserved lemons, black olives, polenta and gremolata is a well-balanced dish. The veal was wonderfully soft, falling apart, presented on a bed of creamy polenta and accented with sharp citrus. The leg of lamb is a meatier dish, served with cavolo nero, borlotti beans and cumin salsa verde. This dish was rustic and colourful, a full-bodied flavoursome cut of meat. I felt the presentation here was a little clumsy, the dish would have looked more refined with less beans and more precision with the vegetable arrangement. We skipped pudding, though a sneaky peek at the adjacent table convinced me that the warm chocolate cake with caramel ice cream would be a good bet for next time.

Skye’s culinary talents complement the artistic nature of Somerset House. Spend a sophisticated day visiting the outstanding Courtauld Collection or the Egon Schiele exhibition and treat yourself with a delicious lunch at Spring.

More information here: