South London

Yummy Cow, Herne Hill, SE24

November 2020

Last Wednesday, on the eve of the new lockdown, we enjoyed our ‘last supper out’ for what will probably be some weeks. My neighbour had recommended a local restaurant, Yummy Cow, which had opened recently (despite the covid conditions!), and we wanted to show it some support, before this second lockdown! I find that ‘word of mouth restaurant recommendations’ are usually the best recommendations and our visit to this restaurant did not disappoint. The interior of Yummy Cow is rather rough and ready, and very pink (!), but completely suits this casual dining restaurant, and anyway who cares about the interior when the menu is so good?!…The three founders of Yummy Cow share Sri Lankan and South American roots, and the flavours of their dishes reflect this, with seasonal British ingredients injected with international flare and subtle spices.

To start with, the menu offers a couple of house cocktails, which in my opinion is always a good sign – I tried the Chilli Margarita, which was the perfect start to my pre-lockdown meal! Then we moved on to the main event – the food. The menu offers a lot of sharing plates, which you could choose to share as a main course or have one as a starter and then move on to their listed main courses. We chose to do the latter, as I’m not very good at sharing my food! It was difficult to choose only two plates from the sharing menu as they all looked delicious, with really interesting flavour combinations, but in the end we chose ‘Roast Pumpkin, Ricotta, Miso and Cavolo Nero’, it was spectacular with sweet and salty flavours, whilst the ‘Rice n’ Cod Fritters with Sweet Chilli’, were instantly gratifying with their subtle Caribbean spices and were very moreish! Moving on to our mains, I enjoyed a particularly well cooked piece of ‘Plaice with Red Dhal Mash, Leek and Parsnip Crisps’, it was a beautiful dish, really well executed. Nick chose the ‘Rump Steak, Carrot Puree, Broad Beans, Sweetcorn, Rosti Potato and Red Wine Jus’, the steak was cooked to perfection and very tasty, however we weren’t so sure on the accompaniment of the broad bean and sweetcorn, but the rosti potato was a great salty addition. Finally, on this occasion we didn’t have a dessert as such – although we were very tempted by the ‘Doughnuts, Caramel, Chocolate Mousse’, instead I wanted, or perhaps needed, something a little stronger to end my meal before yet another lockdown!…so opted for the Latte Martini, which was on their dessert menu, it was a little like a Brandy Alexander, creamy, so like a dessert, however with the addition of  brandy it was definitely a cocktail!

What a shame we are going to have to wait at least four weeks until we can return to the Yummy Cow, I am honestly thrilled to have this well priced restaurant on my doorstep; our bill was around £75, so was great value. If you are in this corner of London, you must try it!

Franklins, East Dulwich, SE22

October 2020

We returned to our local restaurant, Franklins, on Saturday night. Our ‘home from home’ – a local institution which rarely fails us. How lucky are we to have this restaurant serving quality, traditional British food on our doorstep.  The menu is a meaty affair with earthy and robust flavours, often featuring game and offal, although it does offer fish and vegetarian plates. We have been eating at Franklins since it first opened, around 20 years ago, so it must be doing something right! Admittedly, it can occasionally disappoint, but more often than not the quality of the food is consistent. Situated in an old pub, the restaurant offers a casual dining experience, retaining its ‘pub’ atmosphere; it is a quintessential local, neighbourhood haunt.

On Saturday night, on entering, we were greeted by Boris Johnson, on the front of house TV, in the bar area (the dining area is at the back). He was announcing another national lockdown, this would probably be our last meal out for at least four weeks, so we were determined to enjoy ourselves!

We started our meal with a couple of cocktails – as Espresso Martini for me and of course a Negroni for Nick. For starters we had a ‘Pea & Mint Soup’, a bowl of warmth on what was a dreary, rainy day, and ‘Smoked Haddock Brandade & Piquillo Peppers’, the combination of the smoky fish and the sweet pepper was great, whilst the salad on which it sat was well dressed. Moving on to our main courses, Nick choose, ‘Ham Hock Hash & Fried Egg’, whilst I opted for the ‘Red leg Partridge, ‘Spiced Red Cabbage & Crab Apple Jelly’; earlier that day we had ventured out to Kent for a very wet walk, and having got lost a few times(!) we were pretty exhausted, so these main courses were definitely well deserved – perfect comfort food! Finally, desserts, I can never resist Franklin’s traditional desserts, on this occasion I opted for the ‘Chocolate Rice Pudding & Raspberries’ – a little ‘hug on a plate’, whilst Nick choose the ‘Bread & Butter Pudding’, which was “fantastic”.

So our ‘last supper out’ for a few of weeks did not disappoint! Franklins is an excellent neighbourhood restaurant that everyone needs and should have on their doorstep…

Chez Bruce, Wandsworth Common

October 2020

If you live in South London, you will probably know or would have heard of the restaurant, Chez Bruce. Chez Bruce is a gem in South London’s restaurant scene, situated on Wandsworth Common it first opened its doors in 1995 with the intention of ‘serving the best food and drink but within a relaxed, informal yet professional environment’, it has certainly achieved its goal and 25 years later is still as successful as ever.  I must admit, that as a South Londoner myself, I have been a customer for most of those 25 years, and have never been disappointed with the food – now that is an achievement!

A couple of weeks ago Nick and I enjoyed our first Sunday lunch there since before lockdown and I was so happy to see that little had changed. In fact we were planning to return at the weekend for dinner with friends, but unfortunately due to London entering tier two of Covid restrictions we had to cancel our reservation. However, I am happy to be able to share our fantastic Sunday lunch visit with you.

Chez Bruce serves a modern menu of food based loosely on classical and regional French/ Mediterranean cuisine. The price is fixed for 3 courses, depending on whether you are having lunch or dinner and on which day – the Sunday lunch option at £50 is a particularly good choice. The restaurant itself maintains a lovely neighbourhood feel, its simple dining room has a relaxed interior, with service which is on a par with any top Michelin starred restaurant in town.

On arrival for our Sunday lunch we were pleased to see that everything seemed to be as great as ever; it’s the little extras that Chez Bruce exceeds in, for instance, on receiving the menu you are also presented with their light, crisp parmesan biscuits (and for those who are gluten free, like me, toasted spiced nuts – very moreish!). After these and a cheeky lunchtime glass of champagne, we were more than ready to tuck into our starters, for me, ‘Loch Duart Salmon Rillettes with Horseradish, Smoked Salmon, Potato, Beetroot and Dill’, it was a winning combination of classic flavours and beautiful textures. Nick chose one of the restaurants classics, ‘Foie Gras and Chicken Parfait with Toasted Brioche’ – creamy and fantastic, as always! Moving on to our mains, I wanted something autumnal to suit the outside, blustery Sunday afternoon, so it had to be the ‘Venison Loin with Glazed Game Burger, Cabbage à l’ancienne and Celeriac Purèe’, it was exactly what I wanted, ‘a proper plate of food’! Nick couldn’t resist the ‘Roast Beef with Dripping Roasties, Crushed Squash, Stuffed Mushroom and Yorkshire Pudding’, with its refined flavours it was an elegant take on the traditional English roast. Finally, desserts, Nick opted for Chez Bruce’s classic ‘Hot Chocolate Pudding with Praline Parfait’, as always a winner, whilst I had the ‘Baked Cheesecake with Rum & Raisin Ice Cream and Candied Peel’ – honestly, I think that this was the real winner!

Eating at Chez Bruce is a win-win event and, is thus, money well spent, plus the complimentary chocolate truffles at the end of the meal are more than worth the visit!

Trinity, Clapham

August 2020

Over the next few weeks I will be celebrating a number of birthdays of friends and family…so I have the perfect excuse to eat out! This week it was my friend’s big  ‘5’ ‘0’, so we decided to treat ourselves to a fine dining experience at Trinity, Adam Byatts restaurant which is local to us in Clapham. I have been fortunate to celebrate a number of special occasions in the past at Trinity and I was pleased to see that post lockdown, under the new Covid conditions, that it was still buzzing with energy. We ate in the Michelin starred restaurant downstairs, but there is also a more casual dining room upstairs which serves small plates designed to share (I haven’t tried this yet but it is on my ‘to eat out list’…watch this space!). Downstairs the dining room is a lovely, bright modern space with white tableclothed tables (I love a white tablecloth!), it is all very stylish but still manages to retain the charm of a neighbourhood restaurant.

I am pleased to say that the food was, once again, ‘show stopping’, not only well presented, but bursting with beautiful flavours. The dinner menu is a four course menu. For my first course I had Poached Salmon, Dressed Summer Beans, Cockles & Lovage, the salmon was beautifully cooked whilst the subtle flavour of the lovage and the bright, fresh flavours of the cockles and beans really lifted the plate. We also tried the Salad of Beetroots, Cherries and Graceburn, Rye Bread and White Soy – which was equally delicious. Second courses were Buttered Cornish Crab with Provençal Tomatoes, Gazpacho & Fig Oil – the light gazpacho was particularly memorable, and the Norfolk Quail with Scottish Girolles & Summer Squash was apparently ‘incredible’. Third course was Wild Turbot braised with Tomatoes & Fennel Lyonnaise; the aniseed flavours of the fennel took this dish to a superior level, we also chose Stuffed & Pot Roasted Sutton Hoo Chicken, Ceps, Leeks & Summer Truffle –  exquisite. Finally the fourth course was Fig Leaf Soft Serve Ice Cream – a connoisseurs ‘Mr Whippy’ ice-cream, seriously smooth and creamy with a gorgeous fig syrup, and also a Savarin with Blood Peaches – ‘heavenly’. We enjoyed all of this wonderfully executed food with a beautifully, well balanced, White Burgundy wine. What a wonderful evening…it was one of those meals that you would like to return to and savour all over again!

So if you haven’t already tried Trinity, I definitely recommend that you put it on your ‘to visit’ list – either the main restaurant, where we dined, or ‘upstairs’ for a less formal menu – I am sure you won’t be disappointed!