Not much escapes me in the world of food, but lately there’s been so much going on that I’ve missed a number of things. You may wonder how I could fit much more in, the answer is I don’t know, but I will try relentlessly. That’s the joy of living in London, it’s absolutely bursting with great things to do.
One day, whilst idling on twitter, which I am wont to do, I spied mention of a pop-up restaurant at the Sipsmith distillery. Not just any pop-up, for there is many an “any” pop-up these days, the restaurant in question would be none other than one of my favourites, The Providores, a London institution run by chef-owner, Peter Gordon.
I’ve blogged about The Providores before (Turkish Eggs and Tapas Room). It’s a fusion restaurant, but don’t turn your head, it’s done really well. Accompanied by a lovely room and a great wine list featuring many interesting and delicious NZ wines, I can’t and don’t go there often enough. I just had to go to this.
I bagged myself a couple of tickets, and made my merry way to Hammersmith, a meaty trek on a weekend when most tubes are slack on the work front. Somewhat like myself. Nonetheless, we made it, almost in good time.
I had never been to Sipsmith before, and was surprised and enchanted to find this gorgeous little distillery encased in a little suburban terraced house. People were milling about outside drinking hot gin twists, and it wasn’t long before one was dispensed for me and I had my first taste of what was going to be a fantastically interesting and indulgent evening.
Mulled Gin – what a lovely idea and a lovely drink. Warm gin with a lovely citrus twist topped up with hot water. I love mulled wine, spiced cider, hot port and now mulled gin. These drinks could almost make Winter bearable.
I spied Peter Gordon and his team working in what looked like a field kitchen, set up in a tent beside the brewery. I tried to take a sneaky photo. Peter caught me and invited me to take a proper one, which I promptly did. Our first course was laid out, and I was starting to salivate, so was very happy when we were invited to take our seats and begin.
Seven courses were served over a magical evening, I felt as though I had slipped down a culinary rabbit hole, as Alice did to Wonderland. There was barely a weak note. The food was creative, exciting, beautifully presented and a joy to eat. The matched drinks were exciting, delicious and an inspiration. There was a lovely energy in the room, people that had created were excited to share it, and see the reactions of the diners. Guests indulged and delighted at each unfolding dish and cocktail match. Seated at commual table in the shadown of the still, Prudence, the room was a-buzz. Each course was presented by Gordon and Jared, who had great energy and enthusiasm. It was infectious.
Here’s what we had:
Bloody Mary granitée with a fresh Irish oyster
A lovely spicey bloody mary topped with a meaty oyster. A spritely start that awakened the palate, and left us wanting more.
Beet, horseradish and yuzu-infused vodka and distilled and infused wasabi vodka with a Chinese beef and Pacific fish tartare
This was stand out, one of my favourites. The beef particularly was wonderful, gentle textures and interesting flavours. The wasabi vodka was perfect with it.
Game broth with a crispy wonton and wild mushrooms with a ‘bowl shot’ (gin-based salt and pepper tea jelly) was delicious and excitiing. Intensely savoury, with gorgeous textures, the shot of jelly was dropped into the broth and devoured. Great theatre which added to the experience.
Edamame parmesan, sake and mascarpone risotto with Truffle martini
The decadence of this martini, served in a gorgeous glass was remnisent of churches in the presentation for some reason. A large slice of truffle garnished the martini, lurking at the bottom like a gourmet creature of the deep. It was a wonderful match to the risotto, each really working to accentuate the other.
The tempura shiso leaf was gorgeous, and a perfect textural contrast to the rare fish, the cocktail was aromatic and fragrant. Gorgeous.
Roast New Zealand venison on buttered salsify with pickled plums and crispy buckwheat with ‘Northern Star’ (freshly distilled star anise and cacao vodka with ginger syrup and champagne)
I must confess that after so many cocktails at this point, my memory is hazy, but the venison was wonderful with the salsify and plums. I really enjoyed the cocktail too, the anise was interesting with the plums and the venison.
Finally, dessert. Medjool date, banana and pecan pudding with coconut palm sugar and caramel sauce with Lady Grey Martini (Lady Grey infused gin, fresh lemon and egg white, double shaken)
I adored this cocktail, it was my favourite by far. Spritzy with that lovely texture of egg white and the tea, I would have been happy with just this. The pudding was perfectly nice but not really to my taste being too sweet and rich. Others with sweeter teeth than mine loved it.
Cheers to Sipsmith and to Providores for a really special evening. I loved it, and hope they do it again, because I really want another experience of it. At £90 per person it’s not cheap, but it’s worth every penny for a fantastic and unique gustatory indulgence.
Sipsmith Independent Spirits
The Providores and Tapa Room Restaurant
109 Marylebone High Street
London W1U 4RX
020 7935 6175