161 Food + Drink, Sydenham

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Photo credit to Drink Up London

“This place looks a bit like a mini Toasted in Dulwich” – I exclaimed upon perching on my stool beneath two groaning shelves of French natural wines in the teeny, tiny, ultra-cosy 161 Food + Drink, Sydenham. Cue owner Alex flying right over to justify my observation. Indeed, there is a connection – he formally worked at Toasted with then Chef Matt Osborne, who also worked at my other favourite, Terroirs in Covent Garden. Part of London’s clearly incestuous natural wine scene, which is expanding at a rate of knots into these leafy South London suburbs, 161 Food + Drink is like your friend’s cost front room, packed to the rafters with wine and a book case upon which rests an Italian charcuterie slicer.  Continue reading

Eating out in Se19, The French House, Crystal Palace

img_20170205_165004_052Hey hep cats, word is out, I have moved back to my favourite neighbourhood! The old Crystal Palace once again enjoys the patronage of Itinerant Epicure (and boy she does love it so..)

The good news is, in the 2 years during which I have been exploring other pastures, there has been a crop of exciting new openings, and none I can rave more about than The French House. The original cafe/brunch/all day eatery opened in West Dulwich and has now found space for a second wave on Westow triangle.

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Hutong at The Shard

16473975_10154261340401526_7797206505963522156_nThe best kept secret in London? You can book a table for two at Hutong‘s delicious bar – whizz up 33 floors, purchase two cokes and save yourself the £32 ticket for View at The Shard’s tourist viewing deck. You know – if you’re a cheapskate, Sarf London-dwelling hobo like myself. (Although… Cokes? Whatever, I’d be dropping the plastic on a silly bottle of wine…) This modern Northern Chinese restaurant atop The Shard is the sister outpost of an original restaurant in Hong Kong, operated here by Aqua Restaurant Group.

Stepping into Hutong is how I picture Goodfellas if Scorcese reimagined it in 19th century China – all opium dens and Shanghai triads. You’d need the income equivalent of a drug lord to be coming here for your weekly noodle fix – a single dim sum here costs the equivalent of Set Meal 1 at Lin Hong Garden – but as a one off treat, it’s hard to say no to sky-high dining pleasures with the blanket of London splayed out before you. Continue reading

Lamberts, Balham – Seasonal British

20170113_213911Balham is pretty low on surprises and superlatives. Not as up-and-coming as Tooting. More nappy-plains to Clapham’s nappy-valley. It’s the Dulux Magnolia of South West London. Safe, steadfast, boring. Then 8 months after moving here, I discover smack 4 doors down from my humble abode, LAMBERTS, a delicious gem of a restaurant – unassuming and reticent.

Lamberts is in its 13th year, run by Joe Lambert – whose monthly changing menu is a love letter to bold British ingredients, sourced from a list of regional suppliers as long as my arm, each with a fascinating story to tell. This is all the clichés that made “seasonal British” a cliché in the first place, and I could not be happier. Even our server has the air of an suburban Valentine Warner – like he might just have birthed a lamb or speared a mackerel out of the sea before scrubbing up into Chinos for dinner service. Continue reading

Unwined in Tooting – Wine Bar

IMG_20160511_215508Kiki reaches into the fridge and cracks open a curious bottle of Pinot Grigio. Except far from “grigio” this one is a gorgeous shade of pale, blush, apricot – a result of skin contact – and a taste of it reveals juicy, fruity notes and even a whiff of white peach. It is 10pm and although the Wine Wednesday pop-up tasting finished half an hour ago, the good folk of Tooting attending this casual foray into grapes and wine are in no hurry. In fact a solid hour of chin-wagging has begun as more bottles are opened and more stories told of grape journeys, grape discoveries and even the best wines to pair with Gogglebox or Eurovision. We are at Unwined in Tooting. Not your average wine bar. Continue reading

Padella – Borough Market

20160428_184239From the most excellent dudes and dudettes who brought you Trullo in Highbury & Islington comes London’s latest stupid-buzzy, Insta-meltdown, no-bookings sensation. Located on the edge of the main entrance to Borough Market, Padella – an understated white tile and marble pasta bar has a queue round the block, come rain or shine. Having opened in March, its “pici cacio e pepe” pasta looked like the month’s most Instagrammed food item – and where this kind of plate obsession normally has me bitching like a 2 year old whose ice-cream fell onto the pavement, I can see why. Continue reading

Roberto Petza, Cooking with Coffee and Great Italian Chefs

IMG_20160316_214035I had the pleasure of meeting and cooking with the delightfully sweet and brilliant Sardinian Chef, Roberto Petza of Michelin-starred restaurant S’Apposentu in an evening organised by Great Italian Chefs. His restaurant resides in Siddi, a peaceful, bounteous, mountainous paradise in the centre of the island – far from the tourist hordes and better known beach resorts – a calm tranquil and earthy terrain dotted with sheep and donkeys and fertile soils giving rise to a wild array of native herbs and vegetables of which Roberto makes stars on his menus. Continue reading