Friday, 11 June 2010

Elliot’s in the Park, Victoria Park, London

I’m still in a foodie daze, fresh from the heady delights of my first ever supper club dining experience - Elliot’s In The Park at The Pavilion Café.

The team at the pavilion are preparing to open Elliot’s restaurant in Borough Market in October and as a precursor, they’re treating a select group of diners to sneak previews, at this rather elite Friday night pop-up taking place until the end of August.

My mother and I mingled with the other diners in the early evening sun on the picturesque jetty framed by the lake. We were treated to champagne and nibbles in the form of popcorn chicken served in wooden crates with pine cones and radishes in green pea foam and some sort of sesame seed concoction that was supposed to mirror dirt. Strange, but it worked.

We chatted to some of our fellow diners, locals Matt and Paul who come to the Pavilion Café for their Sunday brunch most weekends and it was great to meet fellow food blogger youngandfoodish.

Elliot’s in the Park Pop Up, The Chef:
The weekly-changing menus have been created by chef Isaac McHale, who’s been all over the place this summer, gathering ideas for the autumn restaurant opening. His time spent at this year’s World’s 50 Best Restaurants winner Noma in Copenhagen had a lasting effect on his cooking style and this year he’s already done stints at Indewulf in Belgium and in New York working at restaurants including Momofuku and Corton.

He also makes a mean cherry compote, which each guest got an Elliot's-branded jar of to take home at the end of the evening.

Elliot’s in the Park Pop Up, The Food:
We began with a beautiful dish of English asparagus with mussels, tarragon sauce and vibrant orange edible flowers.

Isaac's focus is on fresh, local food. He's working with Chegworth Valley Farm in Kent who are providing orchard fruits and heritage vegetables for his menus.

The second course was an equally picturesque plate of Cornish Mackerel with speckled splodges of Celtic mustard, sprigs of dill and pickled cucumbers.

Local winery Bottle Apostle on Lauriston Road have matched a different wine to each course. Our American dining neighbours Avery and Drew lucked out sitting next to my mother as she doesn't drink. Throughout the evening they were willing her to keep having her glass filled up by the waiters and divvy out any excess liquid into their glasses.

The third course was pork shoulder with bacon pieces, crumbles of crackling, broccoli and pea puree.

Strangely the 5-course tasting menu (priced at a very reasonable £50 with wine pairing) included two dessert courses. The first our waitress pitched as a palate cleanser of sorts. This was a fragrant little bowl of goat’s cheese foam with a blackberry compote and crumbled Speculoos.

The second pudding was a gorgeously seasonal strawberries with elderflower sour cream and was filled with the joys of summer and fit for an English wedding.

Finally we headed off in to the night, chaperoned by owner Pheobe who let us out of the park gates clutching our Elliot’s jams.

Elliot’s in the Park Pop Up, The final word:
These guys are the real deal. There was no element of phony PR-driven ‘pop up’, just a really special evening filled with great food and wine, interesting people, and a serious dining outfit taking place behind the scenes.

Roll on October when we can check out Eliot’s in Borough:

Elliot’s in the Park is nearly booked up but you can try to nab one of the remaining dinners by calling the café on:

Images on this blog post courtesy Eve Aspin:

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