Street food, bar food and special occasion yumminess..
The Clove Club
Shoreditch’s favourite popup took a lease in the Town Hall about a year and a bit ago and it’s the perfect setting in which for them to rest on their relatively new Michelin laurels. The open kitchen doesn’t look like anyone’s doing any resting, mind you- there are as many kitchen staff as diners and they frequently come out to serve what they’ve just created themselves. The room is high-ceilinged and spare and there’s not a tablecloth in sight, nor is there ambient music- the buzz comes from the bar in the entryway, the clang of pots and pans in the kitchen and conversation only. It’s a pretty Spartan setting. In a good way.
Seafood for the five and nine course set menus (55 and 95 stg respectively) arrives daily, direct from a lone Japanese fisherman in Cornwall and a colleague up North- it’s got to be the freshest in the land. A raw scallop infused with truffle was a standout midway through the extended dance mix prix fixe but so too was the duck course. This is the only time theatre, (some might say gimmickery) plays a part- the maître d’ swishes a respectful glug of 1915 Madeira around a glass and pours that into another glass and so on and so forth until everyone at the table has a coated receptacle for what is possibly the very pinnacle of broth- gingery, marrowy, rich. Starve first so you can savour every mouthful.
Sharing is caring at this dark and atmospheric Bourbon bar-cum-diner in Soho. It’s the more relaxed, less Italianate spinoff of Polpo (who made the prettiest cookbook of 2014) so it retains the highest standards for flavours but price and pressure points have happily been taken down a notch. Sitting at the bar, you may want to hog the otherworldly mac & cheese, eggy truffled toast and chickpeas in squid ink with calamari all to yourself but the more people you bring, the more tastes you’ll be able to partake of so drum up some company quickfast. That strategy should apply to the cocktail list as well- the bartenders are only too happy to give you a tour of the different whiskeys and they concoct every cocktail with incredible care so the more the merrier. Our fave? The Earl Grey hands down- so good we had a round as a break from Regent Street and then came back again that night for a proper, lingering visit with it.
Mamalan Brixton Market
The form: queue up for homemade noodles and brisket in broth made by the Chinese granny you never had. Close your eyes and you could be on an Asian street, not in a covered market formerly dedicated to Jamaican groceries. Crank up the spice level with authentic condiments or leave as is, either way it’s got to be the best value in town- a tenner will see you through. Oh- and after, repair to Seven for a ginger beer and basil mojito.