We usually avoid going out for Valentine’s as most restaurants tend to offer a limited Valentine’s menu and up their prices so that we always feel like we‘ve been “had”. But, when we saw on Twitter that some of our favourite Tooting haunts were collaborating for the evening, we thought we would give it a go.
Hosted in Tooting Market, the Loved Up event saw Graveney Gin, Unwined, The Joint, Franco Manca, Nuvola Bakery and Harrys Chocolate Emporium team up for a romantic night of food and drink. Tables were set up in the middle area of the market, covered in brown paper table cloths and candles. It was much nicer than it sounds – plus they gave you pens so you could write (romantic!) messages on them. We booked an early table at 18.30 and had been asked a few days before to select our food from a menu which consisted of 2 starters, 2 mains and 2 desserts. On arrival we were shown to our table, given our own personalised menu (a nice touch!) and quickly provided with a choice of cocktails (a Knot my Cherry or a Sparkling Kiss) from Graveney Gin. We both chose a sparkling kiss which was Sloe gin and Prosecco, with a heart shaped strawberry. A good way to start the evening.
A short while later our first course arrived. Strategically, we had each chosen different starters so that we could share them, and these were smoked beef cheek croquettes and deep fried mac & cheese bites.
We were each presented with 3 perfectly sized parcels which may have looked the same on the outside but were very different on the inside. The mac & cheese bites were really creamy and cheesy whilst the beef cheek croquettes were smoky, flavoursome and rich. The beef cheeks were accompanied by a portion of sriracha mayo, and this was fresh and cut through the richness of the meat nicely. The wine to accompany this course was a glass of Amano Rosato, a lovely Italian Rose which, unlike some of the sickly sweet rose’s we’ve had in the past, was dry and robust enough to match both the mac & cheese and the beef.
The main course for the evening was provided by Franco Manca.
We have enjoyed their pizzas in the past and had both chosen a meat special which has mozzarella, organic tomato, Gloucester Old Spot Sausage, Colston Bassett Stilton and radicchio trevisano. They were playfully shaped as hearts and as always, tasted really good with that soft chewy fermented sourdough base, and a good combination of toppings. They were also very generously sized and quite filling. The wine for this course was a Gran Passione Rosso, again from Italy, and it had a rich berry flavour, soft tannins and good acidity, which matched the meat and cheese of the pizza.
Finally, dessert was provided by Nuvola Little Bakery.
We hadn’t tried the delights from this bakery before and had chosen one of each of the available desserts: a red velvet cake and a Persian love cake. Both were lovely. Sometimes the cream cheese frosting on cakes can overpower the actual cake but in this case it was well balanced and not too sweet. The passion cake was moist and well flavoured and it was hard to believe it was gluten free. The wine with this course was a real surprise, a Contero, again from Italy. It was sweet and fizzy, a bit like Cherryade to be honest. I loved it. The perfect way to end the meal and to partner the cakes.
To finish the evening off, each guest was given a bag of chocolate goodies to take away from Harry’s Emporium. We were given a choice of either milk, dark, white or dark without nuts, and we selected a bag of white chocolate and a bag of milk chocolate.
Inside were some chocolate buttons, 2 truffles and a chocolate heart. The chocolate was delicious. creamy and tasted really good quality. I am a bit of a chocolate button connoisseur and these were among some of the best I have had. The truffles had a soft gooey centre.
With 6 different businesses working together it could have been a bit of a muddle, but with everyone pitching in to help, it all appeared to go quite smoothly. We had a lovely evening and really enjoyed the laid back atmosphere of the market. All of the tables were full for the first sitting, and there was a second sitting arriving as we finished so it appears to have been a popular event. We will be keeping an eye out for future collaborations like this in the market, and suggest that you do too!