£80 for two. Includes 7 dishes + 2 drinks + tip.

Highly recommended by Time Out (and me)

 

I have recently been reading Jay Rayner’s “The man who ate the world”. If you’re into your food and think that reading about a man who loves to eat is your idea of a good time, I’d highly recommend.

On his epic search for the perfect meal he devours a number of great dishes (the descriptions of which may make you dribble a bit), plus a few bad ones (reminding you that money does not necessarily buy good taste) and he’s funny in the process.

Having read two thirds I now feel that I am ready to adopt the mantle of food critic and luckily for me, I have a bloody good restaurant to talk about. 

My hubby noticed this local Pop Brixton restaurant featured in a recent edition of Time Out. I may not have normally paid much attention but this one was awarded an impressive 5 out of 5 stars with the author citing food and service as both being exceptional.

We booked, which is wise otherwise you will likely be left disappointed (or sitting outside) The restaurant is tiny – all indoor seating and the kitchen are in 1 box unit so seating is minimal but if you’re lucky enough to get a seat, don’t fret, it doesn’t feel cramped, just cozy and intimate

We ordered 7 dishes. In hindsight the tasting menu also containing 7 dishes and costing £25 per head would have been more sensible but we wanted the octopus and so went rogue instead. 

The waitress warned that the dishes were decent sized, she may have even said large but we just ordered everything we liked and accepted that we were going to be stuffed afterwards. 

The first dish to come out was a bowl of charred tenderstem broccoli sat in a bowl of broad bean dip and accompanied by some seeded crisp bread crackers (think of those fancy Ritz ones you’ve seen on TV) – it was delicious and I was reluctant to share it equally out between us. Such a simple idea but I will definitely be trying to recreate this at home. 

Smoke & Salt sprouting broccoli with butter bean dip

 

The next dish came out shortly after we finished the first (and this proceeded to be the pattern for the evening), although in a moment of ingenuity, we ordered a side of bread to mop up the Gorgonzola and chimichurri sauce leftover from the roasted new potato and beef heart dish. Yes, beef heart. My first time but I’d try again – less like a steak and more like a big beef flavoured anchovy that melts in your mouth. This was highlighted in the Time Out review as being a “must have” and may have been my favourite (it’s a close call). If you order this, get the bread and whipped butter to go with it – and abandon your shame like we did to use the bread to mop up every last bit of sauce. I will judge you otherwise.

Smoke & Salt new potatoes, chimichurri, gorgonzola, beef heart

 

I now start to forget the order but at some point the octopus arrived (the close contender for winner). Beautifully presented, a charred tentacle surrounded by clams, slices of salisfy (a cross between a potato and a turnip) and blood orange sauce. On its own, the sauce is pretty pungent, but accompanying the other bits, it adds a nice tang. I could have eaten a bigger version of this and left happily. But there is more to come! 

Smoke & Salt grilled octopus, clams, salsify, blood orange

 

Feeling fishy we also ordered the mackerel with fennel and rhubarb. Now I was expecting a couple of fillets topped with hot, salty skin but instead the dish was served warm / at room temperature with none of the crispiness that I was anticipating. I didn’t dislike them but wasn’t in love like I had been with the previous dishes. The hubby however loved it, so more fool me. 

Smoke & Salt charred mackerel with forced rhubard and fennel

 

Last but not least, the chicken served with mushrooms, leek and crispy seaweed. Although not listed on the menu, this was also accompanied by chicken hearts. Yes, more heart. An odd flavour when eaten on its own but squished onto a fork with the soft chicken breast and it was dreamy. We finished every bit.

Smoke & Salt spring chicken, crispy seaweed, mushrooms, leek

 

And then came desert. I was already moving into my food coma and can’t even tell you what it was but my partner in crime made yummy noises and after only a few minutes the plate was clean. 

Smoke & Salt winter apple cake, spiced yoghurt, apple compote, glassy pecans

 

So I’ve praised the food, but made no comment so far to the two staff. Firstly, they were polite enough not to comment when I tripped over the table leg upon entering, nor did they judge when we almost licked the chimichurri plate clean (if anything, I think the waiter approved). They were attentive but not annoying and knew everything about the food. All in all, lovely people. 

The entire meal cost £80 with tip, including the dishes above, a prosecco for me and a beer for my better half. 

I can happily validate the Time Out recommendation (you’re welcome TO) and award this little beaut 5/5 stars. Hurrah!