SW18 – Wandsworth – Brady’s Review

I can never quite understand why some people don’t like fish. Fish has always been a very hefty part of my diet. I’m the kind of person who orders a fish starter and main, sometimes much to the bemusement of the waiter. My prerogative is if you like it, see fish and eat it.

OK, I’m done with the dad jokes.

For now.

I was therefore delighted when Brady’s invited me to their restaurant which is by the river in Wandsworth – near The Ship for those of you who, like me, tend to navigate London by pubs. Wandsworth residents may know Brady’s in its former incarnation on Old York Road. Now they have a much bigger establishment, complete with new bar and Thames-side views.

What can I say, it was really bloody good.

To start with I ordered the beetroot-cured salmon pictured below which, as you can see, is an astonishing shade of pink (#nofilter). Delicate and almost creamy it was presented in thin slivers; there’s nothing which puts me off smoked or cured salmon more than when it is thickly cut and has stringy bits; it reminds me of this. The door-stop bread it was served with would have been lovely slightly warmed to let the butter seep in.

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The Welshman made an immaculate selection in his starter; fried whitebait. My picture doesn’t do them justice but when you bit into them they were so fat and juicy that I dribbled once, totally fresh and with a supreme batter crunch.

**Rapturous applause**

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As side note, when we first arrived we were presented with a catch of the day list. Again, emphasis is clearly on freshness at Brady’s.

The Welshman never strays to far off the path when he chooses, you’ll therefore be unsurprised to learn that he chose fish, chips and mushy peas as his main but by Jove! he chose right. Flaky and fragile pieces of fresh haddock were encased in a light and crispy batter which was nicely seasoned. The chips which accompanied it didn’t really look that much to be honest with you; they had that ‘cooled and refried’ vibe going on about them, if you know what I mean. The taste however did give away the fact that they were also fresher than Will Smith. They were born and raised to go with that fish. Only complaint is the mushy peas were rather sweet.

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I ordered whole grilled sea bream. Crispy, charred, scored skin and well-cooked (not in the sense it was over cooked) is my equivalent of an aphrodisiac. I highly recommend it.

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bradys-review-wandsworth

I never eat pudding going out, but our host Amelia Brady twisted our arms to share a homemade apple crumble. The apples had a tad too much sugar in there for me, but bear in mind I don’t have a sweet tooth in the slightest. And because I’m also rather sour.

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You can tell the owners of Brady’s know their drinks too; a simple but nicely chosen wine list and a really rather decent selection of beers, ales and spirits. I know they would like more people to enjoy their bar just as a bar without ordering food (but definitely order some anyway) and with a decent selection of drinks as they have, I see no reason why not to. Both the meals and drinks are ridiculously reasonable considering the quality of everything.

They also do takeaway. You Wandsworthians are spoiled with this one.

Brady’s Restaurant
39 Jews Row,
London
SW18 1TB
020 8877 9599
 

I was invited as a guest of Brady’s Restaurant.

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SW18 – Wandsworth – Queen Adelaide

I love old fashioned, scruffy pubs. They can have dirt and grime on the chairs, as many tatty beer mats and wine stains on the tables as their surface area permits, and at least one corner which is occupied by a (working) neon fruit machine. I’ll still love it. There was a phase in the early 90s where these bastions of culture were turned into ‘gastropubs’. Their original décor was stripped out, floorboards and walls were painted the most yawn-ful shade of magnolia, and any sort of gamification was replaced by a touch-screen version of Deal or No Deal.

Thankfully gastropubs have moved on considerably since then and the Queen Adelaide is refreshing, even in 2014. It’s cosy as you walk in – comfy chairs, roaring fires, scatter cushions and tartan upholstery. It’s not twee in the slightest before you jump to conclusions. The menu is clean and interesting. It doesn’t raise too many surprises in terms of the variation of dishes it serves – in the sense that you could go elsewhere for something similar, but the chef makes an effort to veer from sticking to the tried-and-tested mainstream versions of these dishes.

To start, I enjoyed a broad bean and goat’s curd, truffle on sourdough toast. The green in my photograph (although slightly grainy, apologies) shows – for those of you who cook your veg al dente – that they were tender and exactly cooked. Only aspect of note was that broad beans are in themselves quite floury and goats’ curd is creamy – the two need to be evened out, in my opinion, with something more acerbic.

Starter of broad beans, goats curd, watercress and truffle

Starter of broad beans, goats curd, watercress and truffle

My guest, The Welshman, enjoyed a platter of Suffolk fennel salami, chorizo, olives and sourdough toast.  Simple. Did. The. Job.

Charcuterie starter

Charcuterie starter

I ordered a main of steamed mussels, coconut, lemon grass and chilli broth. The mussels were steamed for a matter of seconds, all opened, it was garnished with aesthetically-pleasing micro herbs – yes! I wish the sauce who have lived up to to great quality ingredients. Woah, too salty. A little taste by the chef would have gone a long way. I pointed this out to our waiter, so I do hope the message was relayed.

Mussels, coconut, chilli and lemongrass

Mussels, coconut, chilli and lemongrass

Our  other main was a home made chicken Kiev with celeriac and truffle mash, summer greens and smoked bacon.  Ah, the pain of cooking chicken breast; ever so tasty but the meat was slightly dry.

Homemade chicken kiev

Homemade chicken kiev

The Queen Adelaide is a gorgeous-looking pub, between Wandsworth and Putney, selecting well-known dishes which are thought out and are that one step above what you might expect from your average Young’s pub. Although I haven’t sampled their Sunday dinner, if you’re part of the Sunday Lunch crew, it might be worth a visit –  it really is a nice place. There’s plenty of space and in the summer, there’s a large conservatory space and outdoor eating area. You know, I so wish my sauce hadn’t been so salty – I might have sung The Queen’s praises some more – but you know what – I’d like to go back. That says enough, right?

SW18 Wandsworth – Old York Road – The White Christmas Market

I don’t know what it is about this year, but my Christmassy feeling has come much more prematurely than is usual. By no means am I a Scrooge but I do look cynically at those people who have sent off their Christmas cards, wrapped presents, and had their first mince pie by October 1st.

To be fair, it isn’t particularly taxing to get me to drink mulled wine; I had my first at the Christmas lights switch on at St John’s Hill (Wandsworth) only last Saturday. But do you know what I am really looking forwards to? The Old York Road’s White Christmas Market. I’m going to be lending a hand at the actual event and I would love to see a few friendly faces (friendly faces who will bring me hot wine will be even better).  So if you’re free on December 16th and fancy getting into the Christmas spirit with a few glasses of spiced cheers and nibbling on some mince pies, then I wholeheartedly recommend you come down to Wandsworth’s Old York Road.

There’s also going to be local traders and businesses  selling  lots of things – I’m not quite down with WHO as yet, but I’m told their wares will make ideal Christmas gifts.

Mulled wine and gifts! The perfect combination.

Mulled wine and gifts! The perfect combination.

I’ve become increasingly attached to the quaint Old York Road after I wrote my review of Amirah’s Kitchen back in September. It’s quite a hidden little street, but with lots of independent traders and restaurants, it really does feel like you’re part of a village.

Like I say, if you’re local to the area (or even if you’re not), you’ll be warmly welcomed no matter how chilly the night is. It starts at 12pm and goes on until 5pm – come down, have a potter, buy some pressies and then get tipsy! For more information go to the Old York Road website.

SW18 Wandsworth – Amirah’s Kitchen – Restaurant review

Declining popadoms might have been controversial. I think it was controversial because everyone around us was clearly enjoying said popadoms. I also think it was controversial because our waiter did double check – triple check in fact that we were sure we didn’t want any. But that’s by the by. I wanted to see what Wandsworth’s Amirah’s Kitchen had to offer in the way of starters – to fill up on popadoms when the starter menu promised so much would have been ill conceived and irresponsible. Street food marks out the Old York Road Indian’s appetiser menu; small and intricately flavoured dishes pieced together with the grace of a skilled food-Jenga player; seared scallops with spring onions, cherry tomatoes, garlic and cracked pepper; lamb patties with cardamom and spiced yoghurt; warmed aloo tikki chaat with tamarind and mint chutney.

Criticise if you must but I opted for Amirah’s mixed pakora – fried potato and spinach bhajis, onion, and potato pakoras. Unadventurous? No, I beg to differ. When you’ve eaten something with great frequency, and it is that simple, it should be – well – simple. Pakoras can be monstrous in this country and in polarity also ludicrously divine. Eating something again and again gives you a benchmark; you know what to expect, its nuances and even its shortcomings. I had set Amirah’s Kitchen a challenge. The fried potato and spinach pakora was floury and moist on the inside, but getting there was the best part. The inaugural bites inward had texture and a brittle crunch which popped as your teeth anticipated the coarse, toasted coriander seeds on which your eyes had already feasted.

Amirah's mixed pakora

Amirah’s mixed pakora

Again to start; Punjabi fried fish. In detail, tilapia coated in gram flour and deep fried until it’s the colour I like my beer. Golden. In less detail. Melting gloriousness. And so good with the tamarind and mint chutney accompaniment which gave it the spicy slap round the face it could withstand. Tilapia really is a wonderful fish when fresh and well cooked. Haddock and cod really leave much to be desired with their wetness.

Punjabi fried fish

Fried tilapia and a spicy tamarind and mint chutney

Things done not so well? Well the onion ring in Amirah’s mixed pakora was a bit nondescript, and the batter a bit dry and thick for my liking. Plus the advertised mint chutney didn’t quite make it through the pass on this occasion which is by no means a deal breaker but it’s nice to try these things.

My main, kadhai jhinga, was small yet perfectly formed. The congruence of the red chilli, peppers, toasted coriander and the substantial, succulent prawns were not lost in a silver vat that one is often served in Friday Night Curry House X. The tiger prawns were the dish – and the thick sauce clung to them. There was no leftover watery gravy which had to be apologetically mopped up with cardboard naan. The prawns were cooked as their quality deserved. Oily? No. A very good dish, if slightly over seasoned.

Kadhai Jhinga

Tiger prawns, ginger, chilli and crunchy peppers

Amirah's Peshwari naan

Amirah’s Peshwari naan

The Welshman always chooses a lamb curry. At Amirah’s Kitchen his habitual leanings were rewarded in his rogan josh. Large hunks of bone tender lamb sat in an ochre bath of ginger, browned onion, and tomato. Robust and hearty, with only a slight hint of immiscible oil, but that’s if I am being especially fussy.

Piglet – I am. Amirah’s Kitchen was very generous and brought out desert. Shhh, don’t judge. I still had room. The warmed gajjar halwa (carrot fudge) was muted with subtleties of cardamom, and the grains of almond and pistachio gave the carrot sweet threads of texture. Served with vanilla ice cream the hot-cold combination was creamy and rounded. My initial interpretation of halwa is that it is sticky and fudgey, so I was surprised when this desert was wetter and less glutinous and cohesive. It was also not as sweet as other Indian deserts I’ve had experience of – which was no bad thing in my opinion.

Gajjar Halwa

Carrot, cardamon, almond, and pistachio halwa

Amirah’s Kitchen on Old York Road, Wandsworth, is trying to serve authentic Indian street food. Its lunchtime menu offers kathi rolls, shashlik, and other on-the-go bites. The starter menu also nods to the street food scene – like I said before structured, definite flavours stacked around a small bitesize centrepiece. Conquering street food is ambitious – the ingredients must stand out, be entirely fresh, and be of snack-worthy digestibility. There are reasons why Amirah’s Kitchen doesn’t continue their street food manifesto past 5pm which personally I think is a shame. If those reasons are financial or to do with turnover then that obviously must factor in the owner’s business decision, and I can completely see that, especially for a restaurant which has only been open 10 weeks.

For now Amirah’s must build its reputation as a great Indian restaurant in Wandsworth, and from the excellent standard of last night’s meal, I can see that it is doing this. The street food backbone is not lost, but ‘translated’ throughout the post-5pm mains. I mentioned beautifully-cooked tiger prawns, an emphasis on high-quality ingredients, detectable notes of individual spices – oh the ginger! Yes, it really was rather good.

I really hope Amirah’s Kitchen is able to nurture and cultivate its street food promise. There are so many ‘curry houses’ doing great curry very well. It would be a crying shame for Amirah’s to have to directly compete with them. I look forward to seeing a menu that is refined as the weeks and months pass. Street food and fast feasting really are in vogue in the foodie scene so I think they should make the most of it.

Old York Road in Wandsworth feels like a very homely place, and somewhere I would like to unearth in future. Fortunately I will be returning much sooner than I had anticipated thanks to the Old York Road Unplugged Festival which is happening this Sunday (16 September) between 11am-5pm. If I may put the plug back in for a second just to let you know that, as its name suggests, it’s a street festival with an emphasis on music. But don’t let the three music stages distract you from the tens of stalls, cask ale, street food and entertainment that will be lining this small south London street. I’m assisting with the event, and despite having to set my alarm for 4am, I am ecstatic to be part of such an occasion. Please join the Facebook group or visit Old York Road’s website to discover more.

Amirah's Kitchen on Urbanspoon

I was a guest at Amirah’s Kitchen.

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