Author: MS

Daddy Bao

We have been eagerly awaiting the opening of Daddy Bao on Mitcham Road in Tooting for a few months so we felt pretty smug about being able to bag a table for their soft launch this weekend. The only time we’ve tried bao buns is at Tootopia earlier this year so we were really keen to find out what all the fuss was about.

We were greeted warmly at the door and instantly embraced by the warm and inviting atmosphere created by the décor and red lanterns hanging from the ceiling. We chose to sit at the bar area, which was next to the kitchen, on high stools. We were given an order pad which was a clever way of presenting the menu. Basically, we just had to decide which dishes we wanted and write how many we wanted in the boxes next to the descriptions.

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Everything sounded delicious so, after some deliberation, we opted for some snow peas, chicken poppers and sweet potato chips from the share section of the menu and a Mr Bao, Pork Belly bun, a beef brisket bao, and a drunken prawn bao. To drink we chose a gin xuan tonic and some sake.

We didn’t have to wait long for the food to start arriving and once it did, it came pretty much all together.  It’s going to be hard to find enough superlatives to describe the food so, just to be clear, we loved it.

The snow peas, although a simple idea, were served in a soy glaze with sliced ginger on top. They had been cooked perfectly and tasted really good. We hoovered them up.

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The sweet potato chips came with a wasabi mayonnaise and had been cooked in a light batter. Again, these were perfectly cooked and the mayo had a nice amount of heat to it which complimented the sweetness of the chips themselves.

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The chicken poppers were soft and sweet, having bags of flavour and provided just the perfect mouthful.

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Now, as mentioned before, the only time we’ve had bao buns before was at Tootopia and whilst they tasted good, the buns were good but perhaps a little cloying in their texture. Not so at Daddy Bao. The buns were like light pillows that didn’t stick around your teeth at all. The fillings in all of them had lots of flavour and a good mixture of textures with spring onions, red cabbage pickles, peanuts and pickled mooli.

Pork belly:

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Prawn on the left, and brisket on the right:

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We were hooked! So much so that we decided to go for it and order some more (we know this is greedy but we just couldn’t resist). So, we ordered a three cups chicken bao and a shiitake mushroom bao and some fried chicken.  Whilst we waited we also ordered a negroni. It tasted great but a couple of those would be pretty dangerous!

The fried chicken arrived and, like everything else we had eaten, it tasted fantastic. The chicken was lovely and tender, with the coating nice and crunchy, and the dip had a perfect amount of heat to it.

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The final 2 bao buns were also a triumph. The three cup chicken, which was slow braised and served with pickled red cabbage, spring onions, coriander, and a honey sauce was delicious; a real mix of flavours that worked well together, and the mushroom bao was equally fantastic.

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When our bill came it was just over £60, which we were more than happy to pay for all that food and drink. However, as it was a soft launch, they corrected the bill and took 50% off the food taking it down to just over £40! Considering the amount of food we had eaten, how good everything had tasted, the great service and drinks, we felt like we had had a real bargain.

All in all, we really hope that Daddy Bao is a huge success. We are already dreaming about our next visit and just hope that next time we head that way, we can get a table.

 

 

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Plot

The last time we visited Plot was about a week after they opened, almost a year ago. At the time, we could see that there was real potential but they were still ironing out a few teething problems. Every time we have been to Broadway Market in the evening, we have seen how busy Plot can get so it seemed the perfect time for a revisit.

We had seats at the counter which is helpfully equipped with hooks to hang your bag on. The menu offers 8 dishes plus 2 dessert options. We’ve walked past a few times recently and looked at the menu and it seems to change quite frequently.

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We chose a glass of wine each and placed our order for the food whilst munching on a slice of lovely bread with a cardamom butter. Last time we came we had some delicious marmite butter and this one was just as good. To eat, we chose the leek and cheese tart and the haggis scotch egg to get us going, followed by the Wiltshire ricotta gnudi, and the roast cod.

The first dish served was the leek and cheese tart and this was served with mustard leaves. The filling was soft, light and mousse-like, and the pastry was thin and nicely short. It was packed full of flavour.

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Next up was the haggis scotch egg (only half shown in the pic below). This was served cut in half making it easy to see the perfectly runny yolk and the haggis meat surrounding it. It smelt great so we had already tucked in before we remembered to take a picture! This was full of meaty flavour and was served with a  celeriac slaw which cut through the richness of the egg perfectly.

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When we ordered the Wiltshire ricotta gnudi, we weren’t really sure what to expect. Gnudi are gnocchi like dumplings made with semolina instead of potato. This was a bowl of pillowy, cheesy goodness. They were served topped with pesto which provided a good contrast to the other rich and creamy flavours in the dish. The only thing I’d say here was that the temperature of the dish was inconsistent. The outside of the dish was hot but in the middle it became lukewarm. This didn’t detract from the flavour of the dish but did make me wonder what temperature is was supposed to be.

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The last dish was the roast cod served with chick peas and chorizo. The piece of cod was thick and cooked perfectly, flaking apart into lovely chunks of meat. The only thing we weren’t sure about were the chickpeas as an accompaniment. Unless they’ve been whizzed up into hummus, they tend to taste a bit like cardboard. Even though these had been cooked in a sauce which I think was tomato and chorizo based, they still had that flavour which didn’t really compliment the lovely piece of cod.

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When we sat down we were both hungry but, by the end, we were too full for dessert. That didn’t stop us getting food envy as the chocolate ganache was being served to those sat near us. It looked incredible and we still had good memories of the dessert here last time, which had been fantastic.

Just like last time, the service was also very friendly and we weren’t waiting long between dishes. All in all, the food at Plot is really nice. It looks good, smells good and tastes good, so we’ll be back again.

The Sea Garden & Grill

Having seen pictures of delicious looking cocktails and tasty food on Twitter and Instagram, we knew we had to try The Sea Garden and Grill in Broadway Market for ourselves. We booked seats at the counter so that we could get a good view of the kitchen and headed there on a Friday evening.

The unit looks fantastic. It is modern and the décor and lighting makes it easy to forget you are in a market. As well as the counter seats, they also had 4 longer tables with space for about 30 diners in total.

We were greeted warmly and shown the menu. The drinks menu included 4 cocktails, gins, wine and beer. We chose a cocktail each to start us off and this proved to be a great decision. Food wise, we were spoilt for choice as everything sounded so appealing.

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To get us started, we had some warm sourdough bread and olive oil, which was lovely. We then chose the special of scallops with a celeriac puree, a dish called Textures of Jerusalem, the crab risotto, and the battered fish along with some triple cooked chips.

The first thing to say if how beautifully everything was presented. The dishes looked, and tasted, like some we have eaten in Michelin starred restaurants.

The scallops, though small, we cooked with a lovely caramelisation and the celeriac puree complimented it well, providing just the right contrast between savoury and sweet.

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The textures of Jerusalem (artichoke) was another triumph. It came with pickled mushrooms and sweet potato crisps which meant it was a good selection of flavours and textures which all complimented each other to make a really good plate of food.

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The crab risotto was creamy and full of flavour, with the rice being perfectly al dente. I could have done with a little more crab meat on top, it was very tasty.

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Finally the fish and chips, which was sprinkled with malt vinegar powder. The chips were crispy and the vinegar powder kept them that way. The fish had a nice thick and crispy batter whilst the flesh of the fish itself was succulent and flaky.

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Every mouthful was delicious and we really enjoyed everything we tried. We had a glass of wine each with the food and the bill came to £63. This felt like really good value for money for food which was this good.

 

Sitting there, warmed by the newly installed heaters in the market roof, it was easy to forget it was a dreary, cold January evening outside and that we were sitting in a market. The food here was fantastic and we really can’t wait to visit again.

 

 

 

Dastaan – Ewell

In a small, unassuming parade of businesses on the Kingston Road sits a gem of an Indian restaurant called Dastaan.  Now we are quite spoilt for Indian cuisine in Tooting, there are some fantastic places to eat, but having read some rave reviews online we decided to venture out of Tooting and see what all the fuss was about at Dastaan. We tried to book a table a couple of months ago and weren’t successful, so we felt pretty lucky to have been able to get in for the 18.15 sitting last Saturday.

When we arrived, we were shown to a table near the front, and a very friendly waitress talked us through the menu. This included a reasonably sized list of starters. The first half was described as being street food and all were said to be served in a way making them perfect for sharing.

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We ordered a poppadum basket and pickle tray, some vegetable bhajiyas, the red pepper tiger prawns, and the black pepper stone bass to get us going.

The poppadums were served in large size pieces in a basket with a selection of 3 pickles. These were delicious. The mango chutney was rich and not too sweet. The green chutney had a surprising but pleasant heat and the lime pickle, although never really ever a favourite of ours, was tasty and it made the mouth tingle.

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The prawns were nothing short of gorgeous. They were plump and perfectly cooked with just the right amount of heat and charred notes to finish. We could have eaten several platefuls of these.

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The veg bhajiyas were lovely and crispy on the outside and soft and well-cooked on the inside.

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Finally, the stone bass. This was well flavoured and cooked perfectly, coming apart in lovelyl flakes of meat.

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The starters were a real hit so we were really looking forward to the mains.

 

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For our mains we’d chosen a chicken chettinad, described as chicken, curry leaves, star anise and fresh coconut, and a lamb rogan josh, described as lamb, Kashmiri chilli and garam masala. Under advice, we ordered a pulao rice to share, a butter naan and some wild mustard potatoes on the side.

The food arrived nice and hot and smelt delicious. It tasted just as good. The chicken was beautifully tender and the accompanying sauce was rich and full of flavour. It wasn’t as thick as you might expect with a curry, the consistency was more of a thick gravy.

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The naan was soft and pillowy and was as nice as we’ve had anywhere. The surprise here were the mustard potatoes. They were cooked to perfection and were a lovely accompaniment to the main dishes. I’d eat more of these on their own! The rogan josh had generous chunks of meaty lamb that fell apart, and the sauce was aromatic and had a good hit of spice to it.

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In the spirit of writing a full review, we felt it only fair to sample a dessert and we selected a pistachio kulfi. This was a cross between an ice cream and a mousse and was fantastic. It was just the right balance of sweetness, and a beautiful creamy texture. The perfect way to end the meal.

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The service all evening was excellent, friendly, efficient and informative. We really enjoyed everything we ate and having looked at the menu, will have to pay another visit as there are many things we’d like to try.

It is well worth the effort to travel over to Ewell to eat here…if you can get a table.

 

Unwined & Marlon’s Kitchen

The start of a new year means a new menu at Unwined in Tooting Market, with Marlon’s kitchen in residence and a ‘Bit on the Side’ wine theme to match.  Marlon’s kitchen serve a Colombian themed menu with some unusual and adventurous ingredients so we were really interested to try the dishes on offer.

It was chilly on Saturday night but many of the market stalls now have patio heaters to take off the chill, and there is also a supply of cosy fleece blankets to wrap yourselves up in. The combination of these things, and some delicious wine and food, made for a great start to 2018.

The menu includes 4 nibble options, 3 starters, 3 mains and a dessert or cheese board. Each part of the menu is matched with wine and, as usual at Unwined, these are unique and unusual in both their origin and flavour.

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We are recent converts to olives, so we decided to start with some Gordal olives, and also some Patacones (fried plantain slices) with Hogao and Suero. We had done a little research before arriving so had an idea of what the dishes were. Patacones are fried green slices, something neither of us had tried before. The Hogao is a creole sauce which varies from place to place, but is usually made with tomatoes, onions and garlic, and then a selection of seasonings to add more flavour. Suero is a fermented milk, not dissimilar to sour cream. The olives were plump and full of flavour, I would definitely look for these again. We were served 4 sweet and 4 salt patacones and they were simply delicious and incredibly moreish. They went really well with the hogao and suero, and we hoovered them up quickly.

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The wine we had chosen was a white called ‘Pas D’histories’ which was a blend of Marsanne, Roussanne, Grenache Blanc and Viognier from Languedoc. It was a lovely blend of tropical flavours which was so good, I ended up having 2 glasses (no dry January here). We also had a glass of Soli Pinot Noir from Edoardo Miroglio, Bulgaria. A light and bright red-fruity pinot which is such good value for money.

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From the starters we chose the Arepa de Huervo, which was a cross between a pastry and a bread, served with a soft egg with small cubes of beetroot and carrot. It was deliciously light and fresh and went really well with the Pas D’histories wine.

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We also took the plunge and went for the pigs tongue, something we’ve not eaten before and were a little nervous about. Cooked with a selection of herbs and then finely cubed, it was served with a tamerillo chutney, and some air bread, which are like crispy hollow bread sticks. I will describe the pigs tongue as being similar to a coarse pate with a nice meaty flavour, and the tamerillo chutney had a fruity sweetness to it. I’d happily eat this again. The glass of  Bullet Dodger from the Delinquente Wine Co in Australia went very nicely with this. Made from Montepuliciano grapes that you’d normally associate with Italy, it had lovely flavours of bramble fruit, cherry and figs.

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For our main dishes we chose octopus which was served with cauliflower, potatoes and garlic mousseline, and the zebu hump with cassava galette. This was a tender cut of beef with a rich and flavoursome sauce, served alongside a potato dauphinoise. The flavours here were lovely. My only thought would be that there wasn’t quite enough sauce so the potatoes were a little dry.

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The octopus was cooked perfectly, soft and tender. It was a great combination with the potatoes and cauliflower, and the garlic sauce.

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The wines we chose here were a chardonnay by Patrick Sulivan called Samurai and Tinta Tinto syrah from Chile. I usually avoid chardonnay as I don’t really enjoy the sometimes overly oakyness that they can have, but this one was unoaked and was lovely. It had real depth of flavour and you could really taste the unobstructed fruit flavours of the chardonnay grape. The Tinta Tinto was packed with lovely rich dark fruit especially blackcurrant, and a hint of spice at the end. Really nice.

Usually we opt for a shared cheese board but the dessert promised a range of refreshing and yummy flavours which were just too tempting  to turn down. It was a guava mousse, coconut sponge, passion fruit gel with a coffee jelly. It was so good. The flavours worked brilliantly together and it was a the perfect ending to the meal as it was light, tropical and refreshing.

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To end the evening we decided to have one more glass of wine. A dessert wine called La Beryl Blanc from South Africa. I do like sweet wine but this one was really good. It was rich and sweet without being too cloying. It would have gone perfectly with the dessert.

 

Marlon’s Kitchen are going to be at Unwined for the next 6 weeks or so, and we’d certainly recommend you give it a try.

Boom Bap Burger

Our usual burger spot in Tooting is Honest Burgers on the high street, but there is another decent burger joint hidden away inside Tooting Market. Boom Bap Burger is at the back of the market area, around the corner from UnWined and Graveney Gin. We’ve sampled their burgers before at a Tooting Market Summer Supper and we enjoyed it then, so when we were looking for something quick and tasty to eat on Saturday, that’s where we headed.

Being in the market, it has an open front so you still get to enjoy/be part of the hustle and bustle of the market shoppers. There are plenty of tables, with the kitchen sectioned off at one end, and some great tracks playing over the speakers.

The menu offers 7 different burgers (one Veggie), and a good selection of side orders and extras for the burgers. There is just about something to suit everyone. On the night we went, there was also a special lamb burger. The only thing missing was a chicken option. There were 4 of us and we opted for a bacon cheeseburger, 2 veggie burgers and a blue cheese burger. We also all ordered fries and 1 portion of onion rings.  To wash it down we chose the Chapel Down Cider, a beer and water.

It didn’t take long and the burgers looked awesome. The blue cheese burger had a really good combination of flavours and textures. The burger was succulent without being too juicy (something I appreciated). The blue cheese, which can sometimes either get lost or be too overpowering, was just right, giving a really nice salty flavour, and it went well with the boom bap sauce, lettuce, tomato and onion. The brioche bun was also nice.

The veggie burgers, which consisted of Portobello mushroom, sun dried tomato, halloumi, lettuce, gherkin and boom bap sauce, went down well too. The balance of flavours worked really well and they were really filling.

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The bacon cheeseburger was great. Perfectly cooked patty underneath a couple of juicy pieces of bacon and cheese, with crisp fresh salad, and then sandwiched between a nicely toasted brioche bun. Lovely hot crunchy fries on the side, and they weren’t greasy which is always a bonus.

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The onion rings weren’t the best we’ve had but they were OK, and it was a generous portion. There was a good selection of sauces on the tables to dip everything into.

This was a quick meal and we were all really happy with what we ordered. The burgers were really tasty and not too messy, as they can sometimes be in other places. We will definitely be back and I also think we’ll consider Boom Bap if we use Deliveroo for burgers too.  Next time you fancy a burger, you would do well to pop into Boom Bap and give them a try.

Trinity, Clapham

Whenever we have a birthday or anniversary to celebrate we like to visit somewhere special. These occasions usually call for a trip to a Michelin starred restaurant and we have been lucky enough to eat in some really special places. This year, for Mr Tooting Eater’s birthday, the job of choosing a table fell to me. After a very special trip to L’Enclume last year, I knew I needed to find somewhere different. After some research I settled upon Trinity in Clapham. I was keen to find another local restaurant and was really interested in the fact that, rather than a taster menu, Trinity offered a 4 course a la carte menu.

The restaurant is in the Old Town area of Clapham, near the common, and looked really inviting from the outside. After being welcomed at the door we were shown to our table near the window and offered an aperitif to start our evening. Seeing as it was a special occasion we chose to have a glass of Delamotte Brut Champagne, and this was served nicely chilled and started the evening of perfectly.

We were then treated to some snacks which were delicious tasty morsels to get our taste buds going. Fresh bread soon followed along with some whipped butter. The bread rolls had a perfectly crisp crust and were lovely and soft inside, and the whipped butter was amazing, I could have eaten it all night long it was so good!

 

The menu included 4 choices for each course and everything sounded delicious, making it hard to choose. For starters we selected the Soused Cornish Mackerel, White Gazpacho, Grapes, Tarragon and the Big Eye Tuna, Cornish Crab Salad, Avocado and Pickled Cucumber. We were given some great advice from the sommelier who helped us choose glasses of wine that would help compliment the dishes.

The starters arrived looking stunning and smelling delicious. The tuna dish was tasty and refreshing with a really lovely balance of flavours. I’m not normally a fan of cucumber but it paired really well here.

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The mackerel was great. Fresh and full of flavour, it worked perfectly with the creaminess of the gazpacho, the acidity from the grapes, and the tiny hint of sweetness from the tarragon.

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For our next course we chose the Crispy Pigs Trotters, Sauce Gribiche and Crackling and the Ravioli of Scallop and Lobster, Lobster Soup, and Porthilly Oyster (although no oyster for me thanks to an allergy). Again, the dishes looked and smelt fantastic and didn’t disappoint in the flavor department. The ravioli was soft with a rich and tasty filling. The soup was also full of flavor and well balanced.

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Crispy pigs trotter is one of my favourite things to eat, I love the rich meaty pork enclosed in breadcrumbs. Add a sauce and crackling to that and it will always be a winner.

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The third course saw us select the Dover Sole baked in Truffle Butter, Ceps and Cauliflower and the Sea Bass. I have to say, I wouldn’t normally choose such a fish heavy menu for myself but I was thoroughly enjoying every dish that had been put in front of me.  The range of textures and flavours were delightful and really enjoyable.

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The Dover Sole in truffle butter was delicate and rich, just a pleasure to eat.

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Finally we had to choose desserts. All of the desserts sounded scrumptious so this was difficult. We decided on the Salt Caramel Custard Tart, Salt Caramel Ice Cream, and the Hot Chocolate Tartlet, Poached Pear, Olive Oil Ice Cream.  The salt caramel custard tart is apparently a specialty and it is easy to see why. There was just the right amount of sweetness and salt and the texture was smooth with a perfectly crispy base. The ice cream was a lovely accompaniment and my only complaint was that there was only one small scoop of it. It was so delicious that I could have eaten a whole tub.

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The hot chocolate tart was also a winner, with the rich chocolate and soft poached pear working perfectly together, and the creamy ice cream with the perfect hint of olive oil in, adding another level of flavour to the dish.

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This was our first visit to Trinity and it certainly won’t be our last. The service was professional but very friendly, and the restaurant had an atmosphere that was friendly and relaxed but professional enough for it to feel special.  We do enjoy a taster menu but it made a really nice change to be able to select and try different dishes.

We thoroughly enjoyed our meal at Trinity, everything about it was lovely, and we will certainly be visiting again.