Going gaga for Tata…

Those looking to eat Tata Eatery’s katsu sando at Tayer & Elementary should know that two things are required; a love of food that melts softly in a puddling pool of its own delicious fat and the ability to unhinge your jaw like something simultaneously alarming yet endearing from ‘Planet Earth’.

Pitched somewhere between anchovy soldiers & burrata flatbreads on a beautifully brief menu in a gloriously industrial space, this crispy buttery sandwich is prime edible real estate. Held in place between two slices of toasted brioche, layers of sweet raspberry sauce, crunchy cabbage & an umami power bomb red pepper paste, the panko pork is rich and quivering, falling apart in your mouth with the barest of efforts.

Perfect rhubarb highballs look like something lifted straight from Barbie’s hen-do cocktail menu; slightly sharp, vaguely sweet and poured around giant ice blocks, I drank them without hesitation or delay, congratulating myself on a job well done as they disappeared without trace or struggle. Even the water looks exquisite here, held captive in beautifully fashioned tree bark glasses.

Softly curled up gently in their bowl like an otherworldly translucent underwater plant, endive leaves bore no trace of their characteristic bitterness and were dotted with candied walnuts, a deeply savoury smoked yoghurt sauce spooned on the side that I could have spooned over everything.

Flatbreads were crispy, pocketed with golden bubbles and slathered with molten-middled burrata & soft salty seaweed…

…whilst briny baby Cantabrian anchovies lay draped across fat, fluffy toasted soldiers like fanciful pin-ups from the forties…

…and ox cheek quesadillas arrived gossamer thin and incredibly crispy, almost shattering in your mouth one great greedy bite at a time. Loaded with thick tangy yoghurt and a waterfall of herbs, you might go for the sando but don’t leave without eating the quesadilla.

Too full of good stuff for dessert – the notion of pacing oneself will be a lifelong struggle for me – the suggestion of a coffee slushie from our gorgeously bouncy waiter was a perfect one. Frozen coffee blended with Havana rum, coffee liqueur, both condensed & coconut milks and little bit of magic create the ultimate grown-up hard shake. Drank here in teeny tiny glasses, this would be a totally credible day-time way of cooling down in the summer even if you might find your afternoons fading into a delightfully mellow haze after one or two or six…

There’s a lot to like about eating here – the brevity of the menu, the extraordinarily friendly service, the global influences all muddling together into small plates full of elegance and flavour – but what’s really special is the love of food & the confidence in what this team is doing that radiates out of each dish. Come the summer, those drinks and that menu are going to be one of the best things about living within walking distance of this new Old St beauty.

Turning Japanese in the heart of Soho…

Like the back end of the annual nativity donkey costume, the bottom end of Wardour St is not generally somewhere you want to find yourself. Littered with all-you-can-eat Chinese buffets and thick with air that hangs ripe with the perfume of coloured sugar from nearby cultural landmark M&M’s World, it’s not a part of London I’d associate with cool, new food but recent opening Ichibuns may bring with it more fragrant winds of change.

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Despite having a name to make passing tourists snigger, if, like me, you’ve never been to Japan, then I imagine stepping inside here is like a sensory overloaded snapshot of what the centre of Tokyo might be if it had a brief, torrid, snogging-in-the-back-row affair with the heartland of Americana diner culture. It’s way cool, with an 80’s flavoured techno-pop soundtrack and it’s certainly not short of things to keep you entertained visually as you wait for food. Sat downstairs, we had walls of arcade games, plastic dollies behind metal mesh, the front half of a van surrounded by the oversized stereo speakers you had when you were 15 and a ceiling covered with black & white Japanese comic pages all vying for our attention.

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The menu offers a slightly curious mix of ramen, burgers, sushi & the sort of shakes that will slay a bride-to-be in her tracks as well as beers, whiskeys & juices. You’ll find the sour cherry with orange & lemon refreshingly sharp enough to cut through the richness of the meat & bread with ease. Read More

Brilliant alfresco dining at Pop Brixton…

If you live in South London, you need to pay Pop Brixton a visit.

If you live in any other part of London…you need to pay Pop Brixton a visit.

Fun, lively & vibrant, this spot is a brilliant example of local businesses & entrepreneurs working together to deliver a cracking experience for the people of the community and beyond.

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There are over 50 different companies working out of shipping containers in a previously unused space a few minutes’ walk from Brixton tube, including a community garden, start up architects & restoration enterprises, second hand vinyl & African street-wear shops plus, most importantly to me and anyone else who is generally led at all times by their stomachs, twenty varied food & drink destinations.

Supporting local creatives by offering a safe space in which to flourish? Win. Creating the most delicious pit-stop that’s incredibly easy to get to and enjoy from 9am-11pm every day? Win.

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Pizza, burgers, donuts, jerk chicken, curry, Mexican, Ghanaian, Japanese…you can – and will want to – literally walk around the world here and my advice would be to get here early evening, find a spot at which to plant your proverbial feasting flag & set up camp for the night then get exploring. Take a group of friends and try a little bit of everything or go with one similarly greedy pal and devour dish after dish after dish.

Light & fragrant gyozas from Koi Ramen are elegant and simple finger food at its finest while Baba G’s Bhangra Burgers introduced me (god bless them) to ‘pachos’, an overflowing portion of poppadum nachos that come loaded with salsa, raita, mango, chilli pickle and if you want it – and trust me you do – paneer cheese.

Lighter & crispier than tortilla chips and slick with a kaleidoscope of colours from the varying toppings, these are absolutely awesome and a great, innovative way of putting a modern twist from one side of the planet onto a classic dish from another…

…while steamed bao buns from Viet Box are sweet little pillows of fluffy dough stuffed with gloriously flavoured chicken satay, goats cheese or lemongrass pork.

It gets busy here so don’t rock up at 9pm and expect to find an expanse of space in which to start feasting; vendors are loud and proud of their wares, happy to chat and keen to introduce people to new things. As an FYI, a couple of the stands didn’t do takeaway food when we visited so if you want to try lots of little things, pick a seat in the central areas that you can return to with your wares as opposed to sitting in one place and eating only that.

You might wonder if this is just Shoreditch’s Boxpark copied and transplanted south but it’s got a hugely different vibe and I’d highly recommend you take the time to explore both; you might live on the other side of the river but you can totally dine like a queen on both.