Sunday, 6 July 2014

The Pickled Fork - #Grimedining

After having a delicious meal at the Brixton Diner a few months ago I've been super keen to head back to one of the Pickled Fork pop-ups. When I saw the menu for the July #Grimedining pop-up I knew I had to book myself a place ASAP so off I popped to Barmouth Kitchen (a lovely little cafe) in Wandsworth on Friday to have an incredibly delicious meal.

 

Since the Brixton Diner, the Pickled Fork boys have parted ways and now it's just Alex heading up the venture of fine dining without the price tag. For £35 we were promised a four course meal using seasonal, locally sourced produced. Cindy and myself provided the gin and tonics whilst we were kindly gifted with a bottle of prosecco.




Before the first proper course was served we were presented with a little entrée and a taster of Alex's next pop-up in Brixton later this summer; meatballs with accompanying beer. The beef meatball topped with cheddar cheese and smoked bacon was an absolute delight, the meat was juicy and the cheese was soft and tasty, a perfect combination. I'm not a huge fan of beer but this small sample from By The Horns Brewery had a sweet hint and wasn't too bitter which is the thing I really dislike about beer. A delicious start to the evening and a good way to promote the Brixton pop-up which I will definitely be visiting.




The first proper course was a deconstructed Salt Beef Sandwich with Grilled Corn Bread, Home Smoked Streaky Bacon, The Pickled Fork's Grain Mustard, Kohlrabi and Cucumber Slaw. I was really looking forward to this, I love corn bread and salt beef so I knew it would be delicious and believe me it was just that. I don't normally like cucumber but it was fresh with a nice crunch and combined with the soft bread and tender beef I was left wanting a full version of this sandwich.



The second course was one of my favourites; Heritage Tomato Cured Hake with Tomato Liquor, Young Tomato Leaves, Dill Granola and Dill Mayonnaise. The hake was cooked to perfection with it being just over raw in the middle, the texture was fantastic. The assortment of granola and tomatoes added a fantastic texture complexity to the meal and the dill mayonnaise had a lovely tang.



The main course was one of the best pork bellies I've had in a long time; Cherry Roasted Pork Belly with Pickled Cherries, Crushed Courgette, Courgette flowers, Runner Bean and Watercress Relish. The pork was cooked to perfection, succulent and juicy on the bottom with a crispy and delicious top, I wish I could eat some right now. I loved the sour cherries and the courgettes, a perfect accompaniment.



By the time the dessert came I was feeling full but I knew I had room for something sweet yet light and what was served was just perfect; Beetroot and Carob Parfait with Beetroot Crunch, Redcurrant Smoothie, Fresh Redcurrant and Basil Salad. Carob is a chocolate alternative with the same great taste as chocolate but less calories and paired with the beetroot it tasted like a delicious sorbet-come-brownie. The smoothie, juicy berries and crunchy meringue added to a great variety of taste and texture.


I absolutely adored every element of the meal and cannot wait to try more pop-ups from Alex. Everything tasted stunning and 4 courses which actually ended up being 5 was terrific value for £35. This really is fine dining without the hefty price tag and I cannot recommend this pop-up enough. Every Wednesday and Friday in Wimbledon and Wandsworth respectively for the rest of July means you have plenty of opportunities to try it out. 

Do you think you'll visit The Pickled Fork x

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Tuesday, 1 July 2014

United Ramen vs USA

It feels like my life consists of pop up restaurants at the minute, maybe it's because I'm a sucker for anything given the label 'limited edition'. Being a slave to the pop up trend aside, let me just say this, United Ramen is one of the best places I've eaten at for a while and I'm more than thrilled to discover they'll be opening a permanent restaurant on Upper Street soon. The fact that the restaurant is a three minute walk from my boyfriend's flat is another bonus.

What is United Ramen I hear you ask? Well it's a modern ramen concept created by American-Brit Aaron who believes in taking this traditional Asian meal and adding a modern twist whilst creating culinary mash-ups. Sounds good right? The event I choose to attend was United Ramen vs USA where Japanese soul food was given a southern American twist i.e. some of my favourite food types, this sounded perfect.

The event was being held in House of Wolf and whilst I am in close proximity to this bar most days I'd never actually been inside. I don't want to say too much about the place as it's not really United Ramen's fault the bar staff are rude and the drinks are over priced but I do not like this place. However, United Ramen had positioned themselves upstairs with their lovely staff and had turned the space into a warm and friendly restaurant for the evening. The area wasn't cluttered which is a good reflection on Japanese interior and with a few simple touches in the form of flags, Johnny Cash records and table dressings it had a nice vibe. I particulry liked the idea of using the menus as place settings with comment boxes to score each dish as you went along, very clever.





We began our feast with a shared bowl of Sansho Pepper Popcorn which came with the warning that a slight numbing feeling may be experienced. The sensation was subtle and the popcorn was delicious with a slight tint of spice, as a fan of savoury popcorn over sweet I thought this was delicious.



Next up was the cold starter; Sweet Potato and Crispy Chicken Skin Maki (Rolls). First of all I though 6 sushi rolls per person was extremely generous and I'm glad there were so many because they really were a pleasure to eat. Normally I'm not a fan of sushi rolls, I don't like the pickled vegetables / seaweed filling so this southern American twist on a traditional Japanese meal was most welcomed. The rice was perfectly cooked so the rolls held together well and the filling was sweet with the sweet potato flavour being a strong element.



We were also treated to a second hot starter in the form of Spicy Buffalo Yakitori Hot Wings which really was a stand out dish for me. I love chicken wings and these were expectational, sweet and sticky with the most deliciously addictive mayonnaise.


The main course was BBQ Pulled Chicken, Crispy Bacon and Spicy Buttered Sweetcorn Ramen (Chicken Bone Broth) and not only did it look lovely, it was absolutely delicious. I love ramen, I always think of it as three meals in one as there is so much variety in what is basically a meaty bowl of soup. London has a lot of places that do a great dish so this really had to be a stand out version, fortunately it was. The broth was sweet, the veg was fresh with a crispy bite and the meat was succulent and juicy plus the portion was huge was plenty of noodles.

Originally the ramen broth should have been cooked with mushrooms but as a hater of all things fungi related I asked for mine without. I was able to try the ramen both with and without mushrooms and for some reason the version I had (mushroom free) was much sweeter and more enjoyable. It's funny how such a little vegetable can affect the taste of something so much but my entire group all agreed that the mushroom free version tasted better.


The dessert was Chocolate Ganache Mochi and Strawberry Cheesecake Mochi which is something I've never tried before. To be honest I wasn't that much of a fan, the taste of the chocolate was enjoyable enough but the texture was strange. I know I'm fussy when it comes to dessert because most of the time I'd be happy with a scoop of vanilla ice cream so I'm not always the best person to judge. However, by the time the dessert came I was already pretty full so I didn't mind to much that this was my least enjoyable course.


This was a lovely evening with delicious food and I am beyond excited to try it all again once the new place opens in the late summer. For £25 we tried four generous courses which is fantastic value and several months later I'm still thinking about those chicken wings and ramen.

Do you like ramen x

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Monday, 2 June 2014

Club Mexicana

Being a fan of most things pop up related I thought it would be fun if Steve and I tried out Club Mexicana a few months ago. This isn't your usual Mexican fare, it's vegan friendly and for a meat and cheese lover like myself I was curious to see how this would work. For £25 we were promised a 3 course meal with a cocktail which sounded like a pretty good deal to me. Club Mexicana were hosting their night in the Black Cat Cafe in Hackney. This is a really cute vegan cafe only a few minutes walk from Hackney Central station, with plenty of books and trinkets scattered about the place it has a really friendly vibe. Club Mexicana had is decked out in blow up tropical accessories for the night which was really fun.
 




Both Steve and myself had a Margarita and whilst this isn't my usual choice of cocktail it did have a good kick to it. If you prefer your cocktails salty rather than sweet than this one's for you. We also shared a bucket of Coronas (3 each) which costed £12 i.e. excellent value and a must drink for any Mexican meal.


We had a choice of starter, either seitan or black bean sopa de tortilla. I went for the black bean version and Steve the seitan. Both tasted the same in my opinion and very equally as tasty. The chillies gave it a nice heat and the mix of tortilla chips and vegetable made it surprisingly filling.



For the main course we decided to both have black beans but in the form of tacos and tortilla chips. Before these arrived we were given sweet potato wedges and a Mexican inspired club salad. The chips especially were delicious, coming with a chipolte sauce and tasting autnetically Mexican due to the spice. I would definitely have these again!My only concern was that they didn't come at the same time as the main course.





The toppings on both the tacos and tortilla chips were the same, a combination of beer soaked black beans, guacamole, creamed corn, chilli sauce, pickled onions, sour cream and fresh lime juice. I love soft tacos and tortilla chips so I can't say that I liked one of these more than the other. The toppings were delicious and I really did not notice that the cheese and meat which are normally a key ingredient in Mexican food were missing. The ingredients tasted fresh and tangy which is an extremely important quality for a Mexican feast to have. These mains really were delicious.



By the time the chilli chocolate desserts came I was close to bursting. The meal had been huge but I still managed to eat a bit of this spicy chocolate mouse. Any type of chocolate pudding gets a thumbs up from me and considering this mouse was vegan friendly I was extremely impressed with the creamy like consistency.


Club Mexicana is a really impressive pop up for anyone who likes Mexican food whether you're vegan or not. The experience is great value as I guarantee you will leave with a fully belly and a smile on your face. I'm looking forward to future pop ups with a greater selection of vegan friendly Mexican fare.

What vegan meals do you recommend x

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Friday, 23 May 2014

The Pickled Fork - Brixton Diner

A month ago I went for dinner at a new pop up venture that was so delicious I thought it was about time I wrote about it. Better late than never as they say... For a few weeks The Pickled Fork were hosting a pop up diner in an old solicitors office in Brixton called the Brixton Diner funnily enough. Being a lover of all things Brixton and food related I knew I had to check it out, especially as my friends Peckamite had said how delicious it was. The menu was right up my street promising to serve an assortment of American style classics made with locally sourced produce.

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Upon arrival we were given a bag of cayenne flavoured popcorn and asked what we would like to drink. Being the non beer drinker that I am I went for the long island ice tea which had a good kick to it and went nicely with the spicy popcorn. It came in an old fashioned tea pot which was a nice touch as I'm a sucker for little details. Steve went for a local IPA which he said was very nice. Can you tell I don't do beer? The drinks were reasonably priced with the beer being £3 and the cocktail being a standard £7.






Enough of the drinks and onto the main deal, the food. I was really looking forward to the starter which was chicken wings served with a selection of sauces. The wings themselves were juicy and delicious and I very much enjoyed trying the 4 different sauces which were variations on mayo, pickles, chilli and blue cheese. My favourite was the Shropshire blue which is funny because I don't normally like blue cheese, the flavour wasn't over powering so that's probably why I enjoyed it so much.



 


One of the big appeals of this pop up was the main course, a burger or to be more specific a brisket bap complete with cheddar crisp. To put things simply, it was delicious! The meat was succulent and tender and the cheddar crisp with wild garlic slaw added a nice contrast to texture. The corn on the cob was lovely and sweet and the fries were just right with the cheddar salt flavour really standing out, all-in-all an absolute taste explosion, I loved everything (except the pickles, I don't do pickles). The starter sauces were left on the table so we were able to enjoy more of the Shropshire blue with our fries as well, so much better than ketchup.



The dessert was something I thought I wasn't going to enjoy as I'm not a huge fan of banana or peanut butter but this clotted cream pie was really enjoyable. The hobnob base was nice and biscuity and the French meringue was sweet and chewy on top, delicious.


The meal we had that night really was excellent value (£20 pp) as both Steve and I left feeling satisfyingly stuffed. The Pickled Fork now have a new venture in Wandsworth and Wimbledon called #grimedining which I fully intended on visiting. With monthly changing menus using seasonal ingredients and a contemporary twist on English fine dining but at a value price (£30/£35 pp) this isn't something to be missed.

Have you been to a pop up restaurant recently x

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