By Christina Pickworth
In a week when your car fails it’s MOT (to the tune of £700, ouch) and the weather seems determined to stay more grey than the Zara winter collection, there is only one thing for it. Tasty food, lots of wine and good friends. And a bit more wine on top.
Having booked a table weeks ago (you probably do need to book here) a trip to Naughty Piglets on Brixton Water Lane was just the thing to cheer me up. Add some thirsty mama friends into the mix and the future was looking brighter already.
After arriving in the usual fluster of hello kisses and scarf (sob, it’s JUNE) removal we settled in for the Naughty Piglets experience. We were perched on stools around a high table in the bar area, which was a little snug (I think my 6’3” ex-front row Mr Husband may have struggled) but nicely buzzy. And actually if you’re about to start talking about nappy rash then the intimacy is probably a good thing. There is a more formal dining area at the back though if you prefer, just make sure there is room when you book.
A glass of bubbles to start and then onto the wine, which starts at £19 a bottle. This was very much a quantity over quality type evening so we were happy to go for the house wine, but in a place like Naughty Piglets you know that will be good anyway, because they are just as much about their wine list as they are their menu. I am happy to report that it was indeed very gluggable, and my head definitely wasn’t as sore the next day as it should have been, given the amounts involved.
Our waitress suggested that 7 dishes would be about right for 3 people to share, so that’s what we plumped for. There was a mix up with one of the dishes but I think it may well have been my garbled ordering at fault. First thing out was burrata, broad beans, lemon and black olive. I’m a big fan of food with a few good ingredients, done simply, and this dish was testament to that. Fresh and lemony, this creamy cheese dish was the perfect opener.
Next came grilled pear, Jerusalem artichokes, blue cheese & hazelnuts (which had been the unintentional order, we had meant to order the crab, next time) which was also a delight. Creamy, sweet, and who knew hazelnuts could be that nutty?
Then came the sea trout, horseradish, dill & cucumber, a classic combination that didn’t disappoint (it helps that I am also currently a little bit obsessed with dill), and raw beef fillet, coffee, sorrel & spring greens. You don’t really think of raw meat being silky, but this absolutely was.
On we munched through BBQ pork belly, sesame & Korean spices, which was a lovely complex foil to the other dishes, and wild rabbit faggot, Earl Grey prunes & lardo. Finally the leg of lamb, Hispi cabbage & anchovy was a delicious finish, the meat tender and just the right shade of pink.
You have to give the table back after two hours here, but we had just enough time to sneak in some pudding. Chocolate mousse, milk & salted caramel was rich and moreish. The vanilla panna cotta, strawberries & shortbread didn’t look that impressive in comparison with some of the other dishes but my god it was good.
The night was still young, and with a(nother) bottle of wine on the go we decamped to the bar to keep drinking and talking rubbish. Then one of the husbands popped in on his way home, and even though the kitchen was closed, they rustled him up some croquettes to tide him over (until he could get a kebab on the way home no doubt!).
It’s not the cheapest place in the world with dishes being between £7-£14 each, which racks up if you’re having a few, and our bill did have a 2 at the start, but then we did have four bottles of wine, and, ahem, a few other drinks… The food is great though and it really does feel like a brilliant little neighbourhood place tucked away from all the usual Brixton hustle. A place to feast, glug and recharge your batteries, whatever the weather.
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