Only in Brixton…Is Cuba So Far Away

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

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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.

**UPDATE:**

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

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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.

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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.

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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
SW1X 9EJ
salmontini.co.uk

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
SW6 2EH
the-imperial.co.uk