Monthly Archives: June 2015

Clapham – Insights from a Foodie

I love living between Brixton and Clapham.

Personally I prefer Clapham during the day and Brixton at night! It is just fact that when the sun is out, Brixton lacks outdoor seating whereas Clapham benefits from many places around the Common that get their chairs and tables out so that the punters can soak up some of that lovely London sun with a glass of wine or a pint in their hands.

Clapham is truly thriving these days and has done so for some time. Testament to that are lots of new restaurants and bar concepts popping up on the High Street and side alleys.

In Clapham you find many young professionals that live in the area and work in the City. As a result, rents are much higher than in Brixton for example. Houses around the Old Town are very pretty, well maintained and if you head towards Clapham Junction along the Common you will pass some pretty grand-looking manor houses. Clapham is also not short on options when it comes to its out-and-proud gay scene with KazBar, Two Brewers and The Bridge attracting the crowds from across London.

But not only that – Clapham has seen many new (good, bad and mediocre) restaurants, bars and cafes opening over the past few years. I decided to write this blog post to share with you some insight into what is going on in Clapham’s food scene and turns out there are some key players that continue to transform Clapham into a true foodie heaven.

Burgers, Ribs and American-style Diners 

Clapham shows no shortage of burger places, diners and rib shacks – that one is for sure. You name it – Honest Burger, the Chicago Rib Shack, the Red Dog Saloon, Gourmet Burger Kitchen, Byron Burger, Honky Tonk all within a stone throw of each other. There is something for every taste and budget – an Honest Burger made from Ginger Pig’s Dry Aged Beef with Rosemary fries sets you back a tenner while some Jacobs Ladder cut ribs cost you £18 at the Chicago Rib Shak and £22 at Bodeans. Not sure how many more of those Clapham needs but seems like they are doing well…

For the more refined palet and adventurous foodie scene, I can recommend some of the following (and my own favourite) brunch and dinner spots in Clapham.

For the more refined palet…  

Among all those small and medium sized burger and rib chains, Clapham has seen a number of independent restaurants, bars and cafes openings in recent years. You can find anything from home-cured and smoked meats, freshly baked sourdough breads, ingredients grown and foraged locally and beers brewed on site. Just the thought of it makes me hungry.

I am very passionate about new food concepts that immerse themselves in their local environments, that don’t try too hard to re-invent the wheel but do what they do well and take pride in every single aspect of their business.

A good example for that is Trinity, located in Clapham Old Town. Trinity was one of the first high-quality restaurants to open in the area. Trinity started out back in 2006, with a self-set mission to serve seasonal, inspirational and, above all, delicious food. No wonder the privately-owned restaurant has got 3 AA Rosettes. In 2012, the owner Adam Byatt – chef, restaurateur and food writer wantedsomething a bit more informal. He opened a second site on Abberville Road called Bistro Union – a British neighbourhood bistro where all things quintessentially British take the lead. At least 10% of the restaurant’s fruit and vegetables from those grown by schoolchildren at a local allotment, which is just a little fact of the day for you 🙂

Bistro Union © M Franke_MG_0079Trinity_Chocolate_Cremosa_009 (2) Trinity_Inside_2_002 (2)

Bistro Union © M Franke_MG_0211

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A few years later, Trinity got some new neighbours. In 2013, restaurateur and consultant Jayke Mangion and local entrepreneur Stefan Boehm opened up Brickwood Coffee & Bread bringing a much needed breath of fresh air for Clapham Common’s brunch scene. They recently opened a new branch in Balham and finally got a proper new website too! I can really recommend their brunches and the staff is very friendly too. Allow for some time though if you come on a Saturday morning around 11am – this place gets pretty busy.

Picture by Noemi Dulischewski

brickwood coffee

Picture by Noemi Dulischewski

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Soon after, in July 2014, Jayke teamed up with Andrew Bell to embark on a little mission to transform the 100-year old former Edwardian public lavatory, located underneath Clapham Common tube station into a bar/restaurant. The result of a lot of hard work and endless discussions with the Council meant that the decayed site was turned into a lovely Wine & Charcuterie Bar, called ‘WC’ (very clever!!).  I love it here – the two guys managed to maintain most of the original features of the former closet and they even discovered old love letters in the toilet walls from the 1940s and 50s as well as old Playboy posters of girls in bikinis riding motorbikes. You can still get a glimpse of those when you visit the men’s loos (yes, I had a look..)

http://www.we-heart.com/2014/12/11/wc-wine-charcuterie-clapham-london/

Picture by We-Heart.com

Picture from We-Heart.com

Picture by We-Heart.com

Picture from We-Heart.com

Picture by We-Heart.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One of Clapham’s biggest new launches of 2013 included the opening of The Dairy on the Pavement by chef Robin Gill and Sarah Gill. The Dairy offers small plates from a seasonal Modern English/European menu amid vintage chic of a bar/bistro. Some of their ingredients are even grown on site in their own ‘kitchen garden’ on The Dairy’s roof.

by The Dairy

by The Dairy

by The Dairy

by The Dairy

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Their success lead to the opening of their second outlet around the corner from the Dairy. The Manor opened at the end of 2014 and as the signage leaves no room for surprise – it is “a modern bistro”.  Le Manoir aux Quat’ Saisons and Noma are the big influences on chef Robin Gill and his chefs. On the menu super seasonal home-grown produce and hip Nordic techniques.

And if that was not enough for the team behind The Dairy and The Manor. Robin, Sarah Gill and partner Matt Wells launched an artisanal delicatessen shop ‘The Delicatessen’ next to their bistro (formerly a phone shop) not too long ago. They’ve also taken on an old storage shed below the rooftop garden and turned it into a full production kitchen where they bake and smoke creating everything from scratch for the shop.

Future openings in Clapham include ‘Mommi Bar & Grilli’ – a Peruvian/Japanese restaurant on the Highstreet (former Belgo site). The 85-seater restaurant is from the team behind Camden’s KOKO, who already run Bison & Bird in Clapham. They’re going to be putting on a mixture of raw and robata grill dishes alongside a comprehensive drinks menu and dannce floor. Opening on 1 July 2015.

I am especially excited about the opening of Cellar SW4 by Greg who owns DVine Wines on Landor Road. I have been buying my wines for my own events and for personal consumption and I encourage you to stop by when you are in the area. Their opening is imminent. Located opposite of Clapham High Street Overground Station between The Railway Pub and Tsunami.

Jimmy’s Pop Up has also chosen Clapham for one of his new sites. Look for the wooden door on Clapham Park Road, reach past the vines, and make your way through an urban jungle to get to his Secret Garden bar and restaurant. You got time to visit until the 31st of August. I advise to make a reservation if you are planning to come at the weekend.

I hope you enjoy your own little discovery tour around Clapham soon after reading this.

What are your hot spots in Clapham?

 

 

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Assembly Coffee Roast – Re-Shaping London’s Coffee & Cafe Culture

I am not a coffee snob, but I do like to have a good cuppa on a daily basis.

Since launching brünch in February 2015, I brushed up on my coffee knowledge and worked with a few quality coffee rosters together including Volcano Coffee Works – a leading small batch, specialty coffee roaster based in West Norwood, South London. The team is great – hard working, full of passion and they really know their stuff. To improve my coffee making skills I attended one of their barista training workshops recently, which takes place every Wednesday between 10am and 1pm. More information can be found on their website.

20150610_103308 20150610_111257 20150610_114041 IMG_20150403_090032 IMG_20150403_092958 IMG_20150403_092928 IMG_20150403_092846

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

20150324_095530 Volcano Coffee Works Volcano Coffee Works

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Onny, General Manager at Volcano Coffee Works also introduced me to the recently launched ‘Assembly’ (March 2015)

Assembly began as a commitment to create a genuinely unique coffee roasting service responding to the evolving needs and ambitions of independent cafes.  He goes on to explain that Assembly recreates the role of the roaster so that it is not just one half of a transaction, but one equal part of a relationship involving all wholesale partners. 

Their goal is to acknowledge and value the diversity of experiences, knowledge and individual strengths of their peers in the industry. With a shared vision for creating forward thinking approaches to cafe culture, they have formed a collective where each individual’s insight grows the whole – called the ‘Assembly’.
Volcano Coffee Works are collaborating with Embassy East, Esters, Noble Espresso, Story Coffee, Mother’s Milk, The Wash, Three Wheels Coffee, Soho Coffee House and DunneFrankowski to create the Assembly – a hand picked group of coffee connoisseurs who all share a passion for excellent coffee and customer service.
A lot of research has gone into the new brand and design. The packaging is minimalist, focusing on the purity and quality of the coffee. The bright spot graphic included on the packages is unique to each coffee and visually communicates the sense of the blend to the customer—whether it is well-rounded and mellow, whether it might have more acidic flavors of fruits, or smooth caramels and chocolates.
We tested it and it really matched my experience of the coffee. Onny served the brew in specially design Assembly coffee mugs. The coffee was brewed in the new Techni Vorm Moccamaster which they wetted
 at the recent London Coffee Festival. I can testify that this is a truly premium new coffee label. Hence, I am super proud and excited to be working with Assembly at my next Berlin Brunch in Hackney Wick – come along and try it for yourself.
A few practical examples of the collective approach of the Assembly to date, include:


 



  • Group exercises such as designing a framework for group participation in green bean selection and roast profiling. Based on consensus on what best serves the objectives of our industry the group has created an Assembly espresso blend.
  • Opinion-led projects such as drawing on the collective experiences of the group to develop a consumer coffee learning curve to serve as a guide for promoting higher quality coffee in our daily interactions.
  • Opinion-led projects such as the development of coffee packaging which considers current practical obstacles, how information is best presented and aesthetic values

  • Creating a database to aggregate data gathered by cafes and serve as a source of insight to better inform our individual decisions as cafe owners.

 

Assembly Coffee Assembly Coffee 20150610_123752

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Contact me or Onny for more information about the Assembly at bruench@gmail.com or onny@assemblycoffee.co.uk

@AssemblyRoast

facebook/assemblyroast

 

Vicky Dalton Banks reviews brünch for you

The lovely Vicky Dalton Banks – a passionate fellow foodie and highly rated food blogger came to my Berlin Brunch Pop Up at Stage 3 in Hackney recently.

Read here what she said – Vicky’s Review of brünch

Thank you so much for sharing Vicky and to many more Espresso Martinis together.

BRÜNCH POP-UP

It was recently my dear little brothers birthday. I say little, he’s now 26 and about 8 inches taller than me! He recently spent a couple of years living in Berlin but is now back in London. He misses the city dearly. So, when I came across Brünch whilst perusing twitter I thought it would be the perfect way to celebrate his birthday!

Brünch is run by the wonderful Noemi, a Berliner foodie living in London. Created from a simple passion for bread, brunch, booze and Berlin, Brünch is a roaming brunch pop-up that brings the ultimate Berlin experience to London. The pop-up is about bringing people together over long Sunday brunches Berlin style and to discover some new London venues along the way. Previous venues include Doodle Bar in Battersea and Brixton East.

Noemi creates a Berlin style breakfast including locally sourced cheeses, meats and smoked fish, fresh fruit, home-made Granola with quark, German bread and Brötchen, homemade jams, typical German deserts & cakes and hard-to-come-by Berlin drinks such as Club Mate, fritz kola, Berliner Weisse and Bionade.

The brunch was being held at Stage 3 in Hackney. We turned up nice and hungry. The room was beautifully set up and the food looked delicious!Brünch-pop-up1-1024x1024

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was great to finally meeting Noemi, she is just so passionate about what she does and my brother loved speaking to her about all things Berlin. Everything is locally sourced and homemade – Noemi is a great cook! Two favourites were her homemade smoked mackerel pate which was divine on E5 Bakehouse sourdough and her homemade amaranth granola and vanilla quark, I could have eaten bowls of this stuff. So creamy! Need to get the recipe. Below is the full menu.

Selection of cheeses: cumin gouda, somerset brie, smoked cheddar
– Selection of German cold cuts – pepper salami, schwarzwälder schinken
– Smoked mackerel pate
– Berlin style ‘Eggs in a Glass’
– Amaranth granola with vanilla quark
– Selection of homemade jams
– Rote grütze with vanilla custard and german marble cake

There was also a great selection of cocktails. I had to order a Club Mate straight away – this is definitely an acquired taste, and I don’t even know how to explain the flavour, it’s almost like a fizzy, fruity green tea will a shed load of caffeine in! I learnt on the day that it was nominated for ‘Best Vegan Drink’ in 2014 VegfestUK awards – the drink has a low sugar content and is made from Mate, an old South American jungle plant.

But we were here for Birthday celebrations and we know I love a cocktail so we had a couple of rounds of these too. The Breakfast Bellini (Aperol, marmalade, passionfruit and bubbles) was so refreshing and a perfect brunch accompaniment. After eating my weight in cheese, bread and the best granola I needed a little pick-me-up and went for one of my favourites, an Espresso Martini. This was made perfectly.

It was so great to meet Noemi and after a great chit-chat and hours of grazing we merrily headed out to enjoy the rest of our Sunday.

Noemi is holding her next pop-up, Brünch Summer Feast, on 4 June at Boyce da Roca featuring a seasonal menu, while mixologists from German Vermouth and Amaro brands Belsazar and Mondino prepare the cocktails. I definitely recommend you check it out!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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