I’m starting to wonder why I even bother leaving Tooting these days. My favourite burger joint is round the corner, there are at least three decent pubs within stumbling distance, there’s a wine bar, a sushi bar, plenty of nail bars, and more curry houses than I can shake a stick at. And now… now, it seems the cocktail crews are coming in droves – there are four cocktail bars at my last count and the best part is, one of them is literally at the end of my street! Brick & Liquor is all sorts of trendy with its exposed brick walls, moody lighting, copper cocktail shakers, and pretty glasses… but looks will only get you so far, someone bring me a cocktail, pronto, and let me judge it properly!
My cocktail choices are fairly predictable; a cosmo from the classics or something fun and fruity from the fancier selections will do me just fine so the Clover Club seemed like a safe place to start. This combination of vanilla-infused Beefeater gin, lemon juice, egg white, and their own homemade raspberry syrup was absolutely the kind of thing I order all the time, and that was even before I saw how it was presented… stencilling the Brick & Liquor logo onto a cocktail screams the kind of attention to detail I like in my bars. Cocktails are generally expensive and I, like most, want to know that they have made with care. They’ve proved this point.
I hate going to Shoreditch. There, I said it, you can go ahead and crucify me but I’m not taking it back. It’s just not really my cup of tea. I’m not one of those ‘creative types’, I don’t have a thing for organic, fair trade, no one died in the making of this brew coffee because I don’t actually drink the stuff, and I most certainly do not have a beard. I’d rather not be a cool kid and continue rooting for Tooting any day, though I have heard our little part of London has be called the new Shoreditch once or twice!
Cliches aside, I hate traipsing over to hipsterville because getting from my ‘new’ Shoreditch to the current version is just a bit of a pain. The Overground and I are not exactly friends after the trials and tribulations of commuting to Hackney Central everyday, and I’m not overly fond of those big red vehicles either. This is why it pains me to hear of new restaurants opening there all the time; however, what really irks me is if they survive the opening hype and turn out to be quite good. Like Rök.
A certain someone once proclaimed that dining ‘tapas style’ was his favourite way of eating. This might be controversial as I know the small plates ethos isn’t for everyone but I would happily agree with him here. It’s absolutely perfect for someone like me who suffers from incredible plate envy, has major menu indecision, and quite frankly, sometimes just wants to order everything. With tapas, you technically can… if money was no object. That’s really the only downside to this wonderful way of eating, get too carried away and sometimes the bill can sting you!
So to save you from diners regret and tapas induced crimes against your bank balance, I’ve got three places where you should splash your cash for small plates of goodness. Of course, London is loaded with Spanish tapas restaurants but here are a couple of my favourites…
I don’t watch much tv these days. I could blame it on a certain someone hogging the screen with a constant stream of football, golf, NFL, snooker, darts even but the truth is there’s not much that manages to grab hold of my pea-sized attention span. The only exceptions are the occasion crime drama (really got into True Detective and Broadchurch) and, drum roll please… food shows. That didn’t come as a surprise to anyone did it?
All it takes is an episode or two and I’m already hooked on those cooking competitions, my favourites are quickly found and I’ve decided who the villains are. I could easily spend an afternoon putting up with Jamie Oliver enthusiastically talk me through a 15 minute meal I know will take twice as long, and if there’s a marathon of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations on? Well that’s me for the night.
So it seems I like to watch people cook. It’s my inherent nosiness that needs to know how someone turned a celeriac, pigs ears and blueberries into something edible, or how chefs meticulously plate the most pretty dishes. I’ve noticed that more restaurants seem to be opening up their kitchens and making them visible to the dining room- this is a trend I welcome. A well-oiled kitchen shouldn’t have anything to hide during service, and I can get dinner with a show.
In this industry, making it this far is somewhat of a miracle considering the fickleness of diners, the revolving food fads, and ability of a scathing review going viral before the bill has even been paid. This year, kiwi chef Peter Gordon’s The Providores and Tapa Room in Marylebone turns thirteen and I went along to celebrate.