Wednesday 24th February - The term popup has been stretched pretty thin in London of late. We've currently got Bone Daddies' Shackfuyu popping up for a year in Soho, whilst the worst offender is still the Jamie Oliver "Popup Diner" eyesore near Piccadilly Circus which is halfway through its temporary three year stint. Ridiculous.
Hats (and Tuns) off then to Morty & Bob's (aka Charlie and Jesse) who are opting for a more conservative 11 day stay in The Hat and Tun pub in Clerkenwell, doing their bit to make Grilled Cheese Sandwiches more than a student hangover snack.
You may already have clocked them on Maltby Street, at Netil Market, or at Night Tales, but you can never have too many Morty & Bob's cheese toasties. I pushed that statement to the limit on Wednesday, working through tasters of the menu at a preview event. The popup itself is running from 18th March-27th March, so you can plan ahead.
The purists amongst you might want to go for the Straight Up (£5) with their special three-cheese blend, M&B cheese sauce and mixed onions, but you'd be a fool to miss out on The Hock (£7) - Grilled cheese with smoked ham hock, M&B relish and English Mustard. Delicious. Gourmet? Why not. Portions are hearty with pickles and fresh salad slaw on the side - you won't leave hungry. But to make absolutely certain, you should probably chuck some M&B Cheese Tots in there for good measure, and perhaps a Bloody Mary or two. Sorted.
If you can't make it to the popup, you can find them every Saturday from 11am-5pm at the wonderful Netil Market. Read more here.
Saturday 28th February - Now for a quick look at Angela Hartnett's popular Northern Italian restaurant, Café Murano. I dropped in with Dad The List for an indulgent Saturday lunch - a well timed visit as Angela has just announced that a second Café Murano will be opening soon in Covent Garden. Read more on Hot Dinners.
We started off with the delightful house bread and some serious Planeta D.O.P. Val di Mazara Extra Virgin Olive Oil (available to buy on site). If the meal got stuck on a loop right there and then, there wouldn't be many complaints. We washed this down with, well more olive oil, but also a fine Cafe Murano Spritz and a reasonably priced Analcolico 33 mocktail (raspberry, apple & lime combo).
Booze is no afterthought here. There's a concise but appealing cocktail list, fine wines, and a strong selection of vermouths, bitters and amaro including the outstanding Vergano Chinato Americano which I only recently discovered at Original Sin. On top of that, there's an intriguing Italian beer list, including Fellini-inspired brews from Birra Amarcord, and larger 75cl sharing bottles from Baladin.
The daunting list of Cicheti, Antipasti, Primi and Secondi plates lay before us. We opted (sensibly) for a selection from the first three, including a large Primi pasta portion each, leaving just enough room for a dessert or two.
- Fritto Misto (Calamari, Whitebait, Seabass)
- Pasta Fritta with Culatello
- Halibut Crudo, Blood Orange, Hazelnuts
- Pickled Sardines, Golden Raisins, Sourdough
- Sausage Ragu, Radicchio, Hazelnuts, Tagliatelle (x2)
The first four all arrived at a similar time, allowing the ceviche-style Halibut & Blood Orange to cut through the deep fried goodies. I seem to be eating Blood Oranges and Hazelnuts on a daily basis at the moment (John Doe do an excellent salad), and I couldn't be happier. The former are only in season for a very short time, so make the most of them!
After a short pause, the much lauded Sausage Ragu arrived. More hazelnuts! Still not complaining. They raise the (already magnificent) dish to another level. Order the large portion - you'll mourn the loss of every mouthful.
|Pasta Fritta, Culatello|
|Halibut Crudo, Blood Orange, Hazelnuts|
|Sausage Ragu, Radicchio & Hazelnuts, Tagliatelle|
- Pistachio Meringue, Cherries, Prunes, Apricots
- Apple Torta, Marsala Ice Cream
When I'm dining with Dad The List, desserts usually get rated on how they compare to Mum The List's examples of the genre. Crumbles never fare well. In this case, the Meringue was subject to scrutiny as it was harder to deconstruct than we are used to. Once we got over that though, DTL proclaimed it a success. My seemingly simple Apple Torta was also a winner, perfectly paired with unusual but joyous Marsala Wine Ice Cream. The Tart is in your court, Mum.
|Pistachio Meringue, Cherries, Prunes, Apricots|
|Apple Torta, Marsala Ice Cream|
Tuesday 17th March - To finish, I must briefly mention The Glenmorangie Unseen Bar popup which is only around (16 Batemen Street in Soho) until March 21st!
The popup is in town to highlight the unseen efforts that go in to creating their fine range of whiskies. Once you've made your way past the playful "Unseen" window installation, you'll arrive at the cocktail bar where Glenmorangie twists on classics are the way to go.
The Tain-Fashioned (their take on an Old Fashioned) and Blood Related (inspired by Blood & Sand, Rob Roy, Bobby Burns) make great use of Glenmorangie Lasanta and Quinta Ruban expressions, with some clever touches that go the extra mile. Top bartenders are on hand to talk you through the drinks.
After a cocktail or two, make your way through to the Vault at the back - a quiet, intimate room ideal for working your way through The Glenmorangie range, either dram by dram, in a tasting flight, or paired with well chosen food. We sampled the impressive Lasanta and Nectar D'Or 12yo expressions, before moving on to their 25yo paired with Devonshire Blue Cheese and Signet paired with bespoke William Curley chocolates. We were expertly guided through our tasting by informative bartenders who knew when to sit down for a chat and when to step back to let the whisky speak for itself.
As I said, it's only open until March 21st, so cancel your plans and head over to Bateman Street in Soho!