Wednesday, 20 May 2015

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Naughty Piglets



Last weekend my friend suggested lunch at Naughty Piglets in Brixton, I read a few great reviews and jumped at the chance. The restaurant has only been opened a couple of months and whilst Brixton has been undergoing a wave of gentrification the last few years I really can't complain about this simple yet smart wine bar opening. Headed up by husband-and-wife team the food is stripped back, seasonal and absolutely delicious. Husband, Joe Sharratt hails from Trinity in Clapham where his role as head chef has given him the confidence to open his own establishment. Wife, Margaux Aubry heads up the front of house, as she did in Trinity. A perfect match.

The three of us ordered a selection of plates, being lunch time we didn't want to go too overboard which is a shame because there are so many wonderful options to choose from.


The ham croquettes were perfect, the coating was light and crispy with the centre remaining soft and cheesy with a smattering of ham.



The burrata was so light and creamy it actually melted in your mouth, wonderful.



Asparagus, duck egg and parmesan - perfect


The pork belly was succulent and rich with a crispy skin. The sriracha chilli paste was hot but combined with the BBQ meat, gave a nice Asian vibe to the meal. The lettuce wedge added a nice crunch.


The duck fell away from the bone with the slightest prod of the fork, not quite confit but still tender and crispy. The pistachio paste was divine, rich in flavour but not overpowering. Same goes to the juicy prunes and slow roasted lettuce.


The chocolate mousse was rich and indulgent, the almond crisp added a nice textural contrast.


The vanilla panna cotta was the winning dessert for me, cloud like in softness I always think of it as a more refined version of ice cream.

Naughty Piglets was lovely, the sort of place you could spend a Saturday afternoon knocking back a great bottle of wine and picking a lots of different plates. It's a great addition to the Brixton scene, adding a touch of class to an otherwise casual area.

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Monday, 18 May 2015

RESTAURANT REVIEW: Som Saa at Climpson's Arch


Last week I was in Hackney to see Hot Chip at Oval Space and decided it was the perfect opportunity to check out the Som Saa residency at Climpson's Arch. I didn't have my DSLR with me so thought I'd trail the camera on my new iPhone 6, so far I'm impressed but that's largely in part to the abundance of light in the dinning room. Anyway, I digress.

Som Saa specialises in northern Thai cuisine and uses seasonal ingredients along with Climpson's wood fired oven to produce authentic Thai flavours in a semi industrial part of Hackney, underneath the railway arches. The dining room is lovely and cosy, full of trinkets and fairy lights. You're sat around sharing tables but in typical London fashion no one appears to talk to their neighbours. I arrived at 6pm on the dot and whilst I waited for Steve with a portion of deliciously moorish Thai seasoned cashew nuts the dinning room quickly filled up.

The menu is designed for sharing so we ordered a few dishes from each section to taste the different sweet, savoury and spicy flavours. We ordered a few Chang beer cans, one of the few beers I actually enjoy drinking and eagerly awaited for our food to arrive whilst delicious, fragrant smells wafted through the dining room.


neua yang - the grilled onglet was wonderfully tender and rich in flavour, combined with the hot chilli paste the overall taste was a deeply rich heat.


yum pla meuk yak - the octopus was perfected cooked whilst retaining a slight char from the grill. This dish was hotter than I was anticipating but the abundance of fresh herbs and tangy marinade brought out the fragrant flavours.


lon gapi - the shrimp paste and coconut cream curry was rich in flavour and unlike any Thai curry I've tasted before. The smoked trout added to the richness whilst the assortment of vegetables added a lightness to the dish. This was one of the stand out plates for me, absolutely stunning.


geng hung lay - the pork belly curry was full of garlic and ginger flavours. The meat was wonderfully succulent and fell away easily from the bone. The sauce was moorish and rich without being too spicy.


som tam - the green papaya salad added a much needed sweetness to the rich flavours present in the rest of the meal. Whilst still packing heat from the chillies, the salad was fresh and juicy.



kluey yang 'ice cteam' nam dan beep - there's only one dessert on the menu and it's the perfect finishing plate. The salted palm sugar ice cream is very similar to salted caramel and the sweet and salty flavours, combined with the cold are the perfect end to a meal of hot and deeply rich curries. The grilled banana wasn't much to my liking but I've never like the fruit anyway. I don't think I could have asked for a more pleasant finish.

Som Saa was an unforgettable meal, don't forget to order yourself some sticky rice and plenty of beers and you're really in for a treat. I've not had Thai food like this since I was there myself, and back in 2010 I was very much on the backpacker trail so this probably beats anything I tried anyway. Will I be back? Absolutely, I can't wait!

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Sunday, 10 May 2015

Donostia Social Club



I love Spanish food, in fact I'm going to Bilbao and San Sebastian for my birthday this year with the soul intention of eating. Basque Country tapas i.e. pintxo is a little different from the food you'd find in other regions on Spain. Pintxo is normally characterized by morsels of food pinned to a piece of bread with a toothpick. I love the style of eating, because pintxos are normally only a few bites worth of food you can try lots of different things.

Donostia Social Club have been around for a while making a name for themselves on the street food circuit. I've tried their food at a few different KERB markets before but with my up trip to the Basque Country this autumn I wanted to refresh myself with their delicious style of cooking so I heard down to the Streets of Spain festival at the Southbank where I knew their eye catching blue van would be parked up.











The bar is covered with cold pintxos for you to ogle over and there's a menu with hot options that you can order as well. I've had the braised pork cheek and bean purée before so didn't order it this time but it's lovely and rich, a really hearty little stew.


From the cold bar we ordered a slice of bread with goats cheese, strawberry and a balsamic dressing. The slice of cheese was a generous size and the combined with the fresh strawberry this was a lovely combinations of sweet and savoury.



The crayfish is also from the cold bar and consists of big, juicy crustaceans in mayonnaise. Very similar to a prawn cocktail, just better.


We order three things from the hot menu, the first being the prawns a la plancha with alioli. This was lovely, the kings prawns were cooked perfectly with an ever so slightly caramelized exterior. The alioli had a nice twang to it making for a really delicious dish full of flavour.


The seared scallops with Spanish ratatouille was perfect for two as it consisted of two big juicy molluscs. The ratatouille was light enough to not obscure the delicate taste of the perfectly seared scallops, a really lovely fresh dish.


The winning plate for both me and Steve was the confit duck slider, so good in fact we had to have one each. The duck was succulent with a crispy skin, combined with the juicy apples slices the sweet and savoury combination of this mini burger was perfect.

I really love Donostia Social Club and their relaxed attitude to food where you just order one plate at a time. Even better, they've just opened their first permanent spot at Pop Brixton where they'll be serving cold and hot pintxos galore, I can't wait to check it out.

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