Pop Up Restaurant: Elliot’s in the Park
Elliot’s of Borough is somewhere you should go. Except you can’t. And for this, I am sorry. It’s not open yet you see. How do I know you should go? Well, I was one of the lucky ones that wangled a seat at their Summer pop-up at the Pavillion in Victoria Park: Elliot’s in the Park. Don’t worry though, it opens early next year, maybe even before then, watch this space.
I saw a tweet about it (Twitter is mighty useful!), and booked straight away. Way in advance of going. I really enjoyed it and asked to be put on the waiting list for another night. And I waited. I thought it would never happen but two nights before the last night, 4 people cancelled, and we got their seats. Hooray!
Elliot’s chef, Isaac McHale, is one of the new breed of chefs, Noma inspired with local sourcing and vegetables the stars of the show. Isaac specifically is all about edible flowers (as you know I love them too!), and the food is so interesting and colourful. It’s a delight to eat with your eyes, before you ever disassemble it with your fork.
The evening starts with prosecco and canapés outside the gorgeous dome shaped Pavillion Café, perched on the little lake in Victoria Park. It’s so sociable and buzzy. And the canapés are very very good. Carried away with too much excitement, and possibly prosecco, on my first visit, when it was gloriously sunny and picture perfect, I sabotaged my attempt to photograph by forgetting my memory card. I was so very unhappy with myself. The second time I forgot nothing, armed with memory cards, chargers, lenses, everything I could possibly need, I charged through the park, and snapped all kinds of delights.
Oglesshield cheese gougeres were luxurious and rich.
Buttermilk fried chicken with pine salt served in a bowl of pine branches and pine cones was fantasically more-ish, I must admit I had far more than my share. It’s interesting too that this seems to be popping up everywhere at the moment. I must wheel out Thomas Keller’s version of it soon for you here, you have to experience buttermilk fried chicken yourself at home.
Chegworth Valley radishes with black sesame (no doubt an homage to Noma’s edible soil) were delicious, unusual and pretty as a picture.
Grouse sausages with liquorice, mace and elderberry jelly were fantastic and it was lovely to try this unusual use of the bird. Every dish was a delight and the setting was beautiful.
The Pavillion itself was like one of those people, who when they make the effort to dress up surprise and delight. Long candlelit sharing tables awaited us inside.
5 courses with matched wines from Bottle Apostle carried us through the night. Starting with Oldt Style Tomatoes with Shiso and Iced Goats Milk. The tomatoes were flavour packed and interesting, the sour iced goats milk and peppery shiso were interesting contrasts. I liked this a lot and it was a perfect showcase of the humble tomato. Gruner Veltliner Gmork 2009 accompanied.
Cornish Mackerel with Celtic Mustard, Nasturtiums and Dill Pickled Cucumbers was terrific. Two self confessed mackerel haters were enthralled. I adore nasturtiums in food, both the leaf and the flower, and it was lovely to see large nasturtium leaves gracing the plate. Every ingredient, however pretty, had a purpose. The savoury pepperiness of the leaves was lovely with the creamy mackerel, and the celtic mustard was tangy and rich. I want the recipe for that one.
Slow Cooked Organic Egg with Scottish Chanterelles, Truffles and Fonduta was a treat and not dissimilar to a dish we had at Ben Greeno’s the week before. Not surprising as Isaac was in the kitchen that night too helping out, and it is one of those dishes that is popular right now. It was so indulgent, all hail the humble egg in it’s truffle jacket. A psychedelic looking Wild Boy Chardonnay 2009 accompanied this course, bold and rich, it was delicious, although maybe a little overpowering for this delicate course.
Smoked Pork Belly with Victoria Park Apples, Cider and Kohlrabi was the highlight of the night (har har to you too you Pork Belly snarks ;) My photos of this dish do it no justice sadly. Not particularly smokey, it was a near perfect piece of pork otherwise, rich with flavour, tender and delicate. The apples were presented in slices and rounds, and as before it was dainty and gorgeous. This was served with Cidre Pays d’Auge Brut from Camembert, a natural and very good match.
Next, and finally came the lamb (Cumbrian Lamb with Sumer Squash, Curry Leaves and Date Puree). And now I am torn as I loved that one too. It was tender and gentle yet the flavour had brute force and intensity. My kind of food. Interestingly the squash was very lightly cooked squash, almost raw, and it really showcased the best of its flavour. Sadly, I was so full at this point, I couldn’t finish it. (I know).
Very full now, I hadn’t much hope for the dessert, it’s not my dish of choice anyway. I was very pleasantly surprised by Chicory Mousse, Banana Bread and Yogurt though. It felt like my granny had met Hugh Fearnley Whittingsall gone to Jamaica on holiday, and come up this recipe. Velvet smooth and chicory-ish, bold banana bread and caramelised banana. An inspiration. served with a rich Emilio Lustaz Sherry too, lovely.
And that was that! And, wasn’t that good? At £50 each time including wine, a bargain too. But more than that, it was so interesting to see it evolve from the first time I had gone during the Summer and really enjoyed it, but had seen it wasn’t perfect and needed a little work. This time, it was tweaked and smoothed out, and I can confidently say, this meal defined this London summer for me. Quirky, bright, intersting and exciting. I do hope they open soon.
Other photos from the night: