Elliot’s in the Park
In all the times I’ve visited or stayed in London, I have never had the opportunity to check out Victoria Park in East London. And it’s quite stunning. It has a section for the Old English Garden, a deer enclosure, and a serene lake with a fountain surrounded by ducklings and swans. A beautiful setting for a fantastic evening.
A few weeks back, some friends of mine invited me to join a group at Elliot’s in the Park. Elliot’s was a pop-up restaurant that was hosted at the Pavilion Café in Victoria’s Park every Friday this summer. The chef recreated the five-course menu weekly, using locally-sourced and seasonal ingredients. The full-time restaurant will be opening in October in Borough Market – a spectacular wholesale and retail food/green market (top 5 in the world). This pop-up restaurant was a cool way for the chefs to do a little pre-marketing, and it worked: they were booked solid.
The evening started with some “fizz”, as they call it, and canapés on the deck – oat crisps, spiced popcorn, and chicken oysters in pine salt. Bottle Apostle provided all of the wine pairings (one with each course) and had some incredible selections. The fizz was one of the best champagne’s I’ve tasted – Champagne Gallimard Brut Réserve N.V. It’s made by a small champagne house and is exclusively from Pinot Noir grapes. Dangerously good – fruity with rose-lychee undertones. I’ve asked my local wine guy to find out if we can get it; he said no one imports here because of how small the purveyor is but is on the case! It retails for the equivalent of $30 in the UK, which makes it even more dangerous. Fingers crossed.
After canapés, we made our way over to the communal tables for dinner. It began with English asparagus with mussels and tarragon butter. Bright and yummy with edible flowers and paired with a German Sauvignon Blanc. The next course was my favorite – a crispy Cornish mackerel served with Celtic mustard and dill pickled cucumbers. It was paired with a deliciously floral and green apple Austrian white – Anton Bauer, Gruner Veltliner “Gmork” 2009. This was followed up by braised Old Spot pork shoulder with broccoli and spring onion that paired with a deep Portuguese red.
Two desserts! A goat’s milk mousse with blackberry jam and Belgian speculoos. What the heck are speculoos? They are Dutch/Belgian/French shortcrust biscuits (I must try to make), and here they were crushed on top for texture. This was followed up by English strawberries with sour cream and elderflower. Beautiful. The dessert wine was spectacular, and we all snuck in a second glass. It was South African, Paul Cluver Weisser Riesling Noble Late Harvest 2009 and reminded me of some I brought back from South Africa from the Simonsig winery. Dessert wines from South Africa are generally delicious and always really well priced.
The night was really spectacular – nothing beats a novel experience with great friends. Local people in the know have a lot to look forward to when Elliot’s restaurant opens up in the fall!