A Bit Smarter Eating Out London

Nomad Popup at Social Pantry, Clapham

June 28, 2016

Fridays are usually only notable as that day I breathe a sigh of relief and bid farewell to the working week that was. Last Friday was a different story; Friday 24 June is not one many in the UK will forget in a hurry. The day after the night before, a day of celebration for some and commiseration for others but either way, history was made. We said see you later to the status quo and hello to the coming months, or more likely years, of uncertainty.

On a day when more people than ever were thinking and talking about national identity and pride, I thought it was timely and ironic that we were headed to a supperclub which billed itself as intimately British in style yet leaning on its Chinese-Malay, French and Spanish heritage. This speaks volumes to me about our ever developing global communities where traditional lines of ethnicity, race, religion, and opinion are slowly being crossed or erased. As a child of migrants, and now a migrant in this country, this scenario of blurred lines is the type of national identity I respect and believe to be our current reality.

I hope for this country’s sake that they believe it too and both sides of the referendum debate drop their rhetorics of vilification and accusation, to focus on the next step, however that might pan out. Just a bit of food for thought. But enough of that now… instead, let me tell you about the bit of food for comfort we had that night… five courses to momentarily forget all of those Brexit worries! We settled into the rustically set communal tables, nibbled on the roasted cashews whilst choosing a wine and perusing the menu; it all sounded fantastic and I had high hopes for Nomad.

Nomad_table1

A prawn salad with prawn crackers, fennel, peppers and a laksa style sauce was a vibrant opening. The textures and flavours were fantastic; the prawns were well cooked and still retained their sweetness, while the intensity in the sauce made from the prawn shells was lovely. My only quibble is that I wish it was spicier… if you promise me laksa, don’t be shy on the heat.

Nomad_prawns3

This was followed by a beautiful plate of cured and flame grilled mackerel with apple sauce and beetroot. Distinctly British and distinctly delicious, at the end of the night most of us proclaimed this our dish of the evening. Though I’ve had fruit and fish before, I was still a little skeptical. I shouldn’t have worried, the apple sauce was an inspired choice. I’m seeing more and more mackerel dishes on menus these days which I am pleased about. It has incredible flavour and is quite versatile, we’ve even experimented with it at home a few times.

Octopus, on the other hand, is something I’ve never cooked myself. It’s all too easy to overcook so best left to the experts for now; in this case it was perfect. The baby octopus, potatoes and an impressive confit egg yolk to bring everything together was moreish, though I was disappointed in the hardly detectable morcilla in the mayo. Despite this, it was still a strong nod to the Spanish influence.

Now before you think it’s all about the seafood, the Nomad boys delivered their version of a Hawaiian ‘poke’ which was a combo of beef carpaccio served on miso rice with smoked brisket on the side. As an avid consumer of raw meat, I quite liked the simplicity of the thin slices of beef on rice with the added excitement of the spice and sharpness of the pickled chillies. The smoked brisket I was less impressed with, I found it dry and bland but others around the table defiantly disagreed and even opted for another slice. Each to their own.

Finally we moved onto the sweet treats; I was eager to taste them given Nomad claim in black and white that they have eliminated gluten and sugar from their food. As a pudding traditionalist, one or both of these elements are usually present in the desserts I devour. The little pre-dessert spoonful of chocolate panna cotta was quite divine, the chocolate certainly felt luxurious and sinful, and was perfectly elevated by the hints of orange.

The last hurrah was a banana and peanut parfait with banana bread, blueberry syrup and fresh blueberries. A combination which certainly works but I knew I’d be a tough crowd as bananas usually have me running for the hills. It was actually surprisingly subtle as I found the overwhelming flavour to be from the peanut parfait which was refreshing and delicious. This was not a dessert I would have ordered but the beauty of set menus is that you just trust the chef and go with it, and more often than not will come out trumps!

For a few hours at least, we forgot all about the events of the day, the conflicts that had passed, and the uncertainty that lay ahead. I loved how we unwittingly found ourselves at a meal which celebrated the fusion of different cultures and flavours, and we happened to be happily sharing the experience with friends and strangers alike. It may feel trivial but when all else fails, I truly believe that food will always be there to bring people together.


Are you a fan of fusion food? How did you celebrate or commiserate on that momentum Friday?

Thanks to Tabl for enabling our comfort eating that evening, if you need a mood lift or general dining inspiration, go check out the upcoming supperclubs on their site! As always, all opinions are mine and mine alone!

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