SW4 – Rotli Crew @ The King & Co – Clapham

It’s not something I normally shout about, but as well as this wee blog, I also write a monthly food and drink column for the Clapham and Wandsworth Magazine.  In November’s edition which is out shortly (and is distributed to discerning households and businesses in Wandsworth, Battersea, Clapham, Balham, Tooting, Southfields and Putney), I wrote about some notable pop ups in the area. One of them was Rotli Crew, and while I didn’t have the word count to review the Indian street food specialists within the mag, I was more than willing to pen a few additional characters and sample some of the morsels on offer for this little blog. Rotli Crew’s residency is running at the independently run The King & Co pub on Clapham Park Road until Sunday 29th November

The menu is made up of small plates (or starters, if you prefer), large plates, sides and puddings -although I would say that the portions are extremely generous and there little discrepancy in serving size between them. Small plates on the menu include jeera-fried chicken wings, tomato and onion kachumber, green chilli raita; pani puri filled with kala chana, tamarind ketchup and green chutney, and aubergine, paneer and seasonal greens bhajia – the latter two were what I chose.

The pani puri (pictured below) were crunchy and of course sweetly tangy thanks to the tamarind ketchup. The dish is one of texture but I wouldn’t say particularly strong on other flavours – other than the tamarind which is obviously the main shebang here. I’d like to shove a whole one in my mouth a be greeted with a wealth of textures and flavour combinations.



The aubergine, paneer and seasonal green bhajia below looked a lot more attractive than my dimly lit photos. The external crunch of the bhajia gives way to soft and varied texture of the ingredients within – all of which are visible and perfectly formed. The bhajia are fresh, hot and should be served more often in pubs with a pint of IPA.


The masala cod cheeks in IPA batter, red lentil dhal, lime pickle raita (part of the largerwere really beautifully cooked – the cod cheeks were delicate and sweet and while it was my favourite choice from my order, the dish would have been improved without the dhal which didn’t really add anything other than a soggy bottom.



For a side I chose potato achaar – with mango pickle dressing. The potatoes were soft with a delicate crunch on their corners but the mango pickle made them seem salty.


Paratha is one of my favourite Indian breads. When I visited India back on my Gap Yah (actually it was more of a one-month sejour), I had it for breakfast every day. Rotli Crew’s took me back there – soft, buttery with delicious layers which tear and unfold and your pull it apart. More, more more!



Rotli Crew are doing an excellent job in their temporary home, serving up manageable morsels of Indian street food to hungry pub punters. It’s a perfect stop for a pint and a bite to eat, a stone’s throw from the busy never-to-get-a-seat other Clapham alternatives.

The King & Co
100 Clapham Park Road,

Rotli Crew

SW17 – The Wheatsheaf – Tooting Bec

“We aren’t pretending to break any culinary boundaries, but what we are doing, we think we are doing well”, was how I was first approached by the manager of Tooting Bec’s The Wheatsheaf. An understated invite if ever there was one but my intrigue at this pub – which has recently been saved from Tesco-isation thanks to a community campaign which established the venue as an ‘asset of community value’ – drew me down to this corner of SW17.

TL;DR: The manager of the pub is wrong. For a local pub they have steered away from the trappings of scampi and chips, presenting a menu which is carefully considered, and really bloody well executed. Boundaries are being broken.


Burrata is a solid choice for a starter. Granted it’s not that solid in terms of consistency -the ooze of the creamy goodness as you pierce the outer skin is a bit like the end shot of of porno (apparently, so I’ve heard). The Wheatsheaf’s version did not disappoint. The heritage tomatoes could have been a touch more flavoursome – but we’ll skim over that one – so insignificant to the overall taste of the dish.


Above: Burrata, heritage tomato and pea shoot salad with basil pesto – also features my ripped jeans. Twenty quid from H&M in case you were wondering.



The Irishwoman makes yet another appearance on this blog – she’s not an adventurous eater (by her own admission – I’m not doing any potato jokes as she makes those all on her own). Her choice of starter was pretty darn incredible: goats cheese croquettes with salt-baked beetroot and caramelised walnuts really did hit the nail on the proverbial head. The caramelised walnuts provided a wonderful balance in comparison to what they can normally be – a tad bitter. But with the creamy crispy croquettes they added a sweetness which was fricking delicious.


My main, above, roast Atlantic cod fillet, prawn tempura, olive oil mash, french beans and gremolata was not my first choice. I’d hoped to go for their fresh-sounding tuna nicoise salad – but alas! It was the only thing unavailable on the menu that evening. Honestly, cod will never be my first choice of gill-bearing aquatic dinners but this one was supremely cooked. Flaky and fleshy with crispy skin. The prawn tempura was tasty enough although the cod as the centrepiece was enough to hold its own. The mash was a little wet for my liking although the lemon zest cut through the olive oil.




Finally the sweet potato, pumpkin and ginger hash, feta cheese, mixed leaves, tomato and chilli salsa selected by the Irishwoman could have gone either way on account of its strong flavours. The ginger was strong but was immaculately balanced by the smooth potato and pumpkin encased in a crispy outer layer.

Truly, The Wheatsheaf is something to behold in terms of dining in a local pub. If it is your local, I suggest you go there and eat, drink and support this community asset which is very much pulling up its socks on the culinary front. Tooting Bec-ers – you lucky things.

2 Upper Tooting Road
SW17 7PG

Only in Brixton…Is Cuba So Far Away

From this Thursday (25 July) Cuba is coming *ever* so slightly closer to Brixton.


Until the 28 (you’ve got until Sunday night), aficionados of the Cuban cocktail can make their own mojitos – for free. Yes, that’s for free people. And why I am I telling you this? Well, because it’s only in our backyard.

Trained ‘Cantineros’ – the word for barmen in Cuban Spanish – will guide you towards making the most authentic Cuban mojito (mine never tend to be authentic, more just heavy handed). That’s one that’s free from all this rubbish the trendy places normally include – pomegranate pulp, earl grey shawaddy-waddy or whatever other bullshit is in vogue.

In Brixton Market between 25-28 July all that’s getting between you and a good time is mint, Havana rum, mint, sugar, lime, ice and sparkling water.

If you’re unable to make it and want some more info on how to muddle your way through a mojito-making masterclass (and I quite literally mean muddle), then there’s more information at: havana-mojito.co.uk. (It’s a nice and snazzy website).

I guess I should probably encourage you to drink responsibly, but that wouldn’t be any fun, would it now?

Disclaimer: I was told that if I write this I’d receive some free rum. So I did. You’d do exactly the same too. Plus you also get free rum so no one’s complaining.

Have fun rum bunnies.


The Havana mojitos lived up to, and exceeded expectations. Delicious.





SW1 – Belgravia – Salmontini

There are various ways to start a Saturday. One way is to wake up, dash to the bathroom tap and neck a pint of water to hydrate yourself from last night’s hangover.

Another is to demand that the Welshman make the unenviable trip to Sainsbury’s to pick up a large cola zero, eggs and bread for a brunch in bed to cure last night’s hangover.

Another is to not wake up (perhaps having not been to bed at all).

Arguably the more sophisticated of the above three options is to put your glad rags on and head to Belgravia for a bottomless brunch of sushi and champagne. And last Saturday, that’s exactly what I did.


I was kindly invited to Salmontini for a rather generous (hic!) preview of their new brunch menu. And it went a little something like this.


Salmontini is the kind of place where the Made in Chelsea / Russian oligarch set wouldn’t look out of place. Indeed, if you look at their Instagram feed, the truth is not all that dissimilar. It’s not really where you’ll find someone like me, little SW Heather from Brixton, coiffing copious amounts of Moët.

The venue is pretty pretentious; location wise it will struggle to escape that, but at £60 a head for limitless (nice) champagne and very fashionable looking sushi, could it shine through and actually present itself as a brunch venue which gave substance over style?


The dishes were a representative selection of what one could expect on their brunch menu. They ranged from a mixture of maki and futomaki rolls – with combinations such as tuna and avocado, white flaky crab meat, and deep fried prawns all wrapped in a la dente roll of Japanese rice.


The above dish was a mixture of smoked salmon, which is Salmontini’s specialty, raw salmon, tiny bits of batter and a spicy mayonnaise – sat in a teeny tiny iceberg lettuce boat.




While I am no sushi connoisseur, Salmontini’s sushi was most certainly erring on the fusion side of the net. And I have had better, but for a plush location and immaculate presentation – and £60 for all you can drink Moët (c’mon!) it really isn’t THAT bad a way to get over a hangover.

1 Pont Street

SW6 – King’s Road – The Imperial

Candles and cake at the ready – it’s been just over a year since The Imperial, a gastropub on the ‘other end’ of the King’s Road, opened. Since then it has gone on to be nominated for the Sustainable Pub of the Year award and it has recently hired itself a new head chef and new menu.

What first strikes you about the menu is that it, it and the decor of the pub, are metaphorically identical. It’s everything that you would expect from a pub, but flashier, shinier and then again, not altogether what you’d expect from a pub.

The menu boasts confit duck yolk, hay infused egg white. Not exactly what you expect from a pub either. But on the other hand you can get a burger, a steak and an (un)healthy portion on chips. Exactly what you’d expect from a pub.



My starter of confit duck yolk, hay infused egg white, pickled wild mushrooms, pearl barley and chive puree sounded spectacular – although in reality it didn’t quite deliver. The yolk was beautiful although the chive puree was really rather grassy. It didn’t really gel.

The carrot and coriander soup – a simple dish in its nature – was the essence of homemade, fresh and warming.


For mains I selected the pan fried wild sea bream, blackened leeks, cauliflower puree, samphire and kale foam. Again, there was something about the foam element of it – like my starter – which didn’t fit. The fish was delicately cooked and flaky, although lacked some finesse. It reminded me of something which was a bit homecooked – but not necessarily in the right way. The blackened leeks were on the tough side which should have been spotted by the chef too.



The Irishwoman (my plus one for the evening) chose well and wisely (one must watch those Irish). Her selection of sirloin steak, roast turnip and swede, purple sprouting broccoli with red wine jus did not disappoint. Arguably this dish is what you would call more ‘common’, and not a fancy and fiddly as the foam courses above.  The steak was tender, the jus rich, and wonderfully cooked. An extremely generous portion too, if I may add.



As a side we were recommended the cauliflower and paprika – but is was just that. Cauliflower with paprika sprinkled on top. Nothing to write home about for sure.


For pudding (yes, I told you I am from Yorkshire) were these mini doughnuts with panna cotta and a sickly, almost crystallised pear. The panna cotta didn’t really hold itself together and the pairing of all three didn’t really complement one another.

The dishes which The Imperial owned were the simpler ones. When they dipped their toe into something more complicated, the risk didn’t reward. If The Imperial want to be both pub and fine dining, they really need to fine tune their game.

577 King’s Road

SW9 – Brixton – Carioca

In every corner of Brixton – be that the editorial favourites of Brixton Village or the restaurants and establishments favoured by those who find the intensity of ‘Village Life’ a little too much to bear – you’ll find one eaterie or another which represents a further flung corner of the world.

Asmara – Eritrean; Caribbean – well you only have to open your eyes; Pakistani – watch our for The Elephant in the Village. And as for American – you’ll taste it quicker than you can say Chicken Liquor.

But where is little Brazil in the capital? Once traditionally Bayswater (dubbed rather crassly as Brazilwater) you’ll now find it in most necks of the London woods. Allow me to introduce to you one establishment which is conveniently located in our urban forest: Carioca.

And it only took me short stroll from my flat to get there (which is especially good if you’re going out for brunch – no one likes a long hike before for a weekend breakfast). To be fair, even if you are coming from the other side of town on a long hike you’ll be duly rewarded. All I can say, get there early, order big, and marvel at the colours on your morning plate.

Carioca Ipanema breakfast (credit Carioca)

The delightful spectrum emanating from this dish called Ipanema is a result of pan-chorizo with capers, sun-dried tomatoes, poached egg and chilli flakes, served on a maize muffin with avocado and salsa verde.


This golden gem of deliciousness is no more Brazilian than I, but if you’re feeling unadventurous, then I wholeheartedly recommend the eggs royale. Perfectly cooked poached eggs which pop like giant caviar; lightly smoked salmon – with no stringy bits! Please sir, can I have some more?


The Welshman had a long day of Super Saturday rugby ahead of him so you’ll have to forgive him for choosing the English breakfast (and if you’re a rugby fan you’ll understand that it was indeed a long day). Kudos to Carioca though – great mushroom action.


And we return again to Brazil with a refreshing (and rather pleasant) bump; the below dish is acai with banana and granola – and a sweet drizzle of honey. I am also told the proprietor is very careful in his sourcing of the berries to ensure this platter tastes just like something you’d find in downtown Rio. The acai is semi frozen – which reminded me of being treated at the local leisure centre with a Slush Puppie (albeit with a far better flavour and none of the blue junk you get in it). So basically, just being treated then.


If you’re not heading to Brazil anytime soon, and you’d like to be, or even if you are heading there soon and you want to experience it in our small corner of south west London – it would seem that you should follow the signs to Carioca. And their Bloody Marys are pretty awesome too. Loved it!


25-27 Market Row


Cakes by Robin Review

Christmas Eve and I’m still not organised! Few extra presents to get, got to pack my bag before heading to see family. Not really in the Christmas spirit as I will still be at work come the 24th December. My festive spirit wasn’t really alive and well until this guy arrived…


Thank you to Cakes By Robin who was kind enough to send little Rudolf over. A super moist and lightly spiced fruit cake – I love it when you bite into a raisin or another dried fruit the bejewelled little thing burst in your mouth like caviar (but obviously deliciously sweet and not salty. Or fishy).  Decorations were immaculate and absolutely professional (as you’d imagine from a professional cake maker!). Can’t say I’m too much of an icing lover and this bad boy has a heavy cake to icing ratio.



You can see the way that it shines how moist it was! cakes-by-robin-review-4

cakes-by-robin-review-5Thank you so much to Cakes By Robin for allowing me to try this masterpiece of sugary goodness. If you’d like to find out about Robin’s cake making classes, buy vouchers for a keen amateur baker or custom order a cake of your own then you’d best pop over to her website!

All that leaves me to say is Merry Christmas. Stuff yourselves silly. And get drunk. That’s my plan, anyhow…

Of All The Gin Joints In Soho – The Warwick

“Know your Hendricks from your Portobello Road”, was the opening gambit of my invite to The Warwick in Soho. I was to attend a gin mixology class but I had my reservations from the start.

Firstly it’s out of the borough.

Yeah, but it’s gin tasting.

Luckily I was able to reconcile that one with myself pretty quickly.

Secondly: but I don’t really need to learn how to mix gin.

I have managed to master that fine art myself.

Anyway, long story short, I was suckered into going to Soho to drink gin in a The Warwick’s newly refurbished bar which has a gin emporium.

Yes ladies and gentlemen, a gin emporium.

Actually, I didn’t really have any hesitation in going.

So what did I learn? Well truth be told there are a lot of decent gins out there which can be paired with all manner of crudities and herbs. For instance, when served with tonic (come on we’re not all alcoholics round here), a Portobello Road gin is pretty banging with a wedge of grapefruit.

However, if you were to choose a Berkeley Square gin with your tonic (notes of basil, kaffir lime leaves, lavender, and sage) a sprig of basil would be the optimum accoutrement to accompany your beverage. Hint: This one is smashing.


What else was there – oh yeah, Hendricks of course which is a botanical gin which you all know should be accompanied with cucumber. Come on, keep up!

One of the strongest gins was William Chase at 48% ABV but was curiously deceptive as there were other gins which tasted a great deal stronger on the night. The crisp fruity flavour of William Chase are best complimented with a slice of apple.


While William Chase may well have been strong enough to knock out a baby elephant, Elephant Gin beat them to the nomenclature. These charitable distillers give 15% of their profits to two African elephant foundations; if ever we needed an excuse to drink gin! Think of the elephants people!


Our tasting party also enjoyed Whitley Neill (which also based on African botanicals); Sipsmith, and Boodles.

the-warwick-soho-2The gin mixology class was really enjoyable at The Warwick; I know I’d never make it my regular haunt on a Thursday night after work (bussyyy, extraordinarily loud and obnoxious music), but their gin selection is admirable and the their pairings pretty, darn tasty. Go there on a Tuesday night.


The Warwick
1-3 Warwick Street
020 7734 4409

I was graciously invited as a guest of The Warwick to the gin mixology class.

SW4 – Clapham – The Pepper Tree Brunch

A few images from my brunch at the Pepper Tree (who have just had a lovely refurbishment) and are now serving brunch as well as their dinner menu.

Cracking Bloody Mary – enough lemongrass to get you high! ;)


A venti-sized bowl of congee!

The Pepper Tree
19 Clapham Common South Side
SW4 7 AB
020 7622 1758

The Hangover Platter – Breakfast Delivery – South West London

Granted, it’s a first world dilemma but don’t you hate it when you wake up in the morning after a heavy night, there’s nothing in the house to eat, and your belly sounds like an angry bear? Topping it all off like a rotten cherry on top is also the fact that in order to get food you’re going to have to circumnavigate your local profit-distorting grocery store (with all the other morons who drank one too many gin and tonics the night before) in order to bring home the bacon.

PLUS none of your favourites on Just Eat have even starting firing up their deep fryers yet.

Who are you, quite literally, going to call? The Hangover Platter perhaps? These folks have come up with a new concept which frankly I wish I’d thought of. You order when you’re hungover, choosing from a mixed selection of savoury and sweet plates, they bring it to your door. The service operates between 9am and 2pm on Saturdays and Sundays, delivering (at the moment) in the following postcodes: SW2, SW4, SW9, SW11 1, SW12, SW16, SW17.

Why small plates? They say it’s because when you’re hungover you can never decide what to eat. To be fair this is true; when I have managed to haul my ass out of bed in order to buy food after an evening of inebriation, I tend to buy the shop. So what do they serve up…here’s what I got delivered to me!

Above is baked egg pot with supergreens and toasted parmesan crumbs. Really quite tasty and the egg was still runny. I think they’re working on their packaging still as it was lukewarm on arrival but very fresh and something that I could never be arsed to whip up at 11am on a Sunday morning!



Above, from left to right working clockwise, toasted granola with grated apple and yoghurt pot; fresh guacamole (which came with some granary bread) – seriously this was banging!; classic full English breakfast pot with a twist – this was a tad on the sweet side and needed toning down a bit; and the baked egg dish again.

I also tried the brownie (drowing in chocolate already!); fresh fruit salad and the Haribo (I don’t think they’re homemade but we’ll forgive them in this instance).

You know what, I love this idea, and the food was totally fresh and really reasonably priced. I know they still have a few things to iron out as they only launched at the end of October but it is off the ground, it will fly. Seriously, have a go when you’re hanging next Sunday. It’s almost worth getting drunk for.

The Hangover Platter delivers in the following postcodes:
W2, SW4, SW9, SW11 1, SW12, SW16, SW17.
Open: 9am-2pm on Saturdays & Sundays



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