What’s the trendiest food you’ve ever eaten? I’m in London at the moment. I’m not a natural Londoner: I get antsy in crowds, and am fond of long naps.
Coming down from Edinburgh (where the last word in fashionable food atm is a lemon drizzle from Lovecrumbs), London eating is pretty alien. Yesterday I went with Rob and George to Honest Burgers in Brixton for one of the coolest meals of my life.
George and I plumped for the Honest Burger itself, with beef (no hint of neigh), cheddar, bacon, onion relish, pickled cucumber and lettuce in a waxy little bun. The very British salt-and-rosemary chips were what made it all feel quite London (which, say, crispy shoestring American diner fries wouldn’t).
The menu is in mid-noughties teen magazine-esque flowchart form, which makes you worry you might accidentally avoid ordering food and instead find out that you are an independent woman who loves to party. You will note, also, that the menu has a grand total of five meal options.
The homemade lemonade comes in faux Mason jars (you can tell that they are faux because they have handles); the burgers served on chipped enamel dishes on reclaimed wooden tables. We are each given a bone-handled knife: no forks.
I mean, I totally loved it, the parade of it. But London restaurants are starting to feel like movie sets to me, everything unusual and affected and attractive in a fake ‘oh I just threw this on at the last minute’ sort of way. Do people eat like this all the time? Am I doing it wrong?
The rest of Brixton Village is a riot of market stalls, vintage shops full of questionable shoes, very weird spiritual outlets (there’s a place selling candles that apparently ward off court cases and bring back your ex-husband) and tiny cafes. The food stalls sell strange cuts of meat and rare veg.
I’d never seen a parrot fish before, but here I see about twenty, glaring out between crates of tripe and neat rows of pigs’ trotters.
In the evening I get the Overground north to deepest Dalston to meet Nancy, and have pizza and ginger mojitos in a tiny bar on Ridley Road which out-cools even Honest Burger. Wood-fired pizzas for £5 from the ‘Slice Girls’, and mojitos the same price, served in enormous plastic glasses while the DJ plays indie/samba to a dancefloor that’s too crowded for dancing. The rest of the street is deserted, but there’s a queue for this place.
I need to go and eat something really unfashionable now, for balance. Salmon mousse and pineapple fritters?
The Nancinator and me. I’m pulling a pouty face to celebrate the fact that we are in Dalston.