Guys, why didn’t we buy flats in Elephant & Castle years ago? We’ve been mocking it all these years BUT…have you been there lately? I think I want to move there. I mean, convenient transport links, a great name, AND a new awesome Italian supermarket with a mostly Italian food court that’s open every day but Monday! Oh, for it to be 2010 again…or maybe 2008 during the financial crisis. Why didn’t I buy property then?? Why???
So yeah, if I lived in Elephant & Castle, I would live at Mercato Metropolitano. It’s like Eataly, but without the bad typography (seriously awful use of white space) and stacks and stacks of panettone. I was about to ask when London was getting its Eataly when I found this article, that says that Mercato Metropolitano was started by one of the founders of Eataly. Oh, and that the Eataly/Selfridges deal has fallen through. So yey for Mercato Metropolitano! Long may it prosper. Maybe if we go there enough, Eataly will finally open a central London foodhall.
After a short walk from Elephant & Castle tube, I entered through MM’s grocery store, which is a long, narrowish space with seemingly no real place to check out except at the entrance. It’s like they really don’t want to take your money! Very odd. I thought for a moment that this was all Mercato Metropolitano had to offer until I made my way to the back yard and into the warehouse behind it. Oddly, a vegetarian stand, a Vietnamese stand, and an Argentinian grill greeted me. This was not what I expected. And there was no coffee…very very odd. (Although there was a little stand with a guy selling Sicilian pastries.)
I turn the corner again, and there it all it. Aha! Now I get it! There is wine and beer and fried things and cheese and more wine and paninis and all sorts of great things. There’s a stand with nothing but tuna! And they have a fat fresh big tuna with eyes so clear he (or she) must have just been plucked out of the Atlantic that morning. (Or well, have been frozen immediately two weeks ago.) They are sawing the tuna open and I peruse the menu while I watch and well, I want to eat everything but I can’t really so now I have to go back.
I order a pizza because…pizza. It’s the Pizza Fresca, which very clearly says that it has salume on it, but yet is also very clearly labeled as vegetarian. The pizza is a hot, bubbly delight although perhaps a little too much crust for my liking. I wish I had some olive oil or something because crust is just a little bleh otherwise. Also, I can confirm that pizza was definitely not vegetarian, unless laboratories worldwide have made amazingly meaty strides with tofu and seitan. It’s a very good pizza though.
I order a wondrously well-priced (5 quid) glass of white in the Enoteca, and snuggle in for a bit in the wooded Tirolean space. The seat covers are sort of like like those wooly rugs you buy at Ikea, but they will look dank and gray and matted in another three months so please, Enoteca, replace them regularly.
I take another wander around Mercato Metropolitano. I love it here. I want to come back. I will come back. It’s a great addition to London.
The Background: I've been traveling a lot lately. This has put a significant dent in my social life. Let's just say that Nicole e-mailed me in April about meeting up for lunch and the first date I could commit to was in July.
Really, my life is not that exciting.
Nicole and Liz work for Which? and specifically, The Good Food Guide. This was a nice opportunity to have lunch with some like-minded folk and talk shop. Even if it did take us three months to get together. (My fault entirely.)
The Entrance: If I were More, and if I were located across from More London–the big development of offices and shops–I would not name my restaurant More. Nicole and Liz spent ages waiting in the champagne bar across the road–also called More–until they realized they were in the wrong place. Apparently, this is not the first time that guests of More (the restaurant on Tooley Street) have been so confused.
But we all found each other eventually and settled in to enjoy our meal.
The Food: I ordered the pea soup to start. I swear that the menu did not mention that it was a cold pea soup. Well, it was. Have you ever had one of those Covent Garden soups out of the box without the benefit of a microwave? (Accidentally, of course.) Yes. That's how it tasted. And it was HUGE. Really, there's only so much cold pea soup a girl can take. Plus, it needed salt.
I had the seafood linguine as my main. Although it was relatively generous with the seafood, it was swimming in oil. I should have taken an after photo.
The Service: Took my not-empty wine glass away not once but TWICE.
The Atmosphere: I liked the design. It was clean and simple and uncluttered. And with the bar area up front, it would be a good place for the solo diner. But it was HOT. So hot. There was a patio out back, but the door remained firmly shut during our visit. I could have used some fresh air.
The Verdict: Really lovely company and conversation and a very nice afternoon out. Food just okay.
The Background: I know. Where have I been? Didn't I get back from Rome ages ago?
Yes, yes. I'm back. And I love The Rake. I've always loved The Rake. And I love The Rake even more because hey, they have PROSECCO on tap.
But I digress…although I continue to eat out, I haven't been to too many new places around London lately, and thus, nothing to review. OK, there are a few. They are…
Le Cassoulet in Croydon Edward Moon in Stratford-upon-Avon Mestizo in Euston
And I need to blog up my reviews of them. At some point…
But I've also been to a lot of the same old, same old in London… Lunch at Fernandez & Wells Not one but TWO visits to Magdala in Hampstead Ottolenghi, of course, for some aubergine and crispy sea bass Anchor & Hope for some fantastic asparagus and a great meal of pork belly (and loin) and crackling and greens. This was my first visit since March of 2005 and it had me asking myself, why haven't I come back inbetween?
So Feathers thinks that every time I've been someplace I've been before, I should update my review and repost. What do you think?
***Update*** Matt went back on Monday night and then again on Wednesday night and reports that the prosecco is no longer on tap.
The Background: Every so often, I get invited on a PR thingamajig. I'm never quite sure what to do. Because you know, I've spent (and continue to spend) a lot of time with economists and, well, there's no such thing as a free lunch.
Would you accept a free meal? Free drinks?
And if you did accept the free stuff, would you feel obligated to write a good review?
Think about it.
So, I'm invited to a sushi and wine tasting at Tsuru on the South Bank. You know I love sushi and wine, so it was really hard for me to say no.
I just hoped they wouldn't f**k it up.
The Entrance: As usual, I am one of the first ones there. Why people have to be fashionably late, I don't understand. Someone brings me a beer and Denise from The Wine Sleuth and I catch up.
Eventually, we take our seats and we're guided through six wines that Damien Tillson, the Deputy Director of Wine at Sotheby's, has selected for our meal. What I really liked most of all about the evening was when they described their markup policy on wine. It's like 30%. That's NOTHING. Restaurants in London don't do this!!! They all charge a fortune. In New York, 30% markups are the next big thing. (Based on my very small sample size.) So Tsuru is a little bit ahead of its time for a London restaurant, and for this fact alone, they earn some points in my review.
The Wine: Of the six wines we tasted, I liked these two wines the best:
Sancerre, Domaine Bailly-Reverdy, Loire France, 2007. Sauvignon Blanc. This one was vaguely peanuty, buttery, and yet still flinty.
La Tunella, Colli Orentali del Friuli, Italy, 2005. Cabernet Franc. It was green and complex and tasted of cedar wood, in the best possible way possible.
The Food: Here's the bad part. After enjoying so much wine, I wish I could say I loved the restaurant's food. I didn't, and that makes me feel like an ungrateful guest. I thought it was all just, well, good.
The Verdict: I liked the concept of Tsuru. They use line-caught yellow-fin tuna, which is nice. (They don't say where from, however.) And their salmon is fresh from the Shetland Islands. Their chicken is free range from the West Country. (As an American, I have no idea where that is, but it sounds good.) Their wine is an EXCELLENT value–but they don't given themselves any credit for it, based on the menu I took home with me.
If I were them, and if I were wearing my marketing hat, I'd make a much bigger deal about how small their wine markups are. Because nobody else is. That's for sure.
The Damage: Cheap. Probably £10 each? We were buying rounds so I lost track.
The Background: We were having one of those lovely random London days. We'd met at 2 p.m. on the South Bank to watch a man covered in Holly climb out of the Thames. We raced the crowds to The George Inn, where we enjoyed some drinks and talked to some Italians. Eventually, it was time for a change of venue, and some of us (uh, me) hadn't eaten all day. So it was time to get fed and potato chips/crisps weren't cutting it.
The Entrance: The Woolpack is nothing special from the outside. On the inside, it's this odd mixture of old and new. I dig the tilework though. Big time. I just wish people wouldn't try to hang things on tiles. It really ruins the effect.
The Beer: There's only Green King. Well, let me rephrase. There are a lot of beers, but there's only one ale. Green King. That's fine. We load up. And we get some hummus and pita too. And some fries/chips. They're all fine.
The Garden: Hey, there's a beer garden! With crazy London transport signs as tables. I'm a sucker for this sort of stuff. I would come back here in the summer. I miss beer gardens.
The Loo: I bit confusing, that one. I almost got lost. Before I even got there.
The Verdict: This was fine. Just fine. I'd go back for the garden.