Cheesy Riders: Alpes

Nick Buglione slopes off to Pop Brixton’s Alpes.

You can tell the sun’s out. Pop is nice in winter, great in summer. So, it’s beautifully ironic that one of our latest arrivals has spiritually slalomed down from Meribel or Val d’Isere. Bonjour Alpes, new pied-à-terre for the Raclette brothers.

Their take on sea container chic is a stripped down, wood-lined ski shack, but it’s a warm summer night so of course we hit the (apres-ski) terrace.

Raclette, for first-timers, is a semi-hard cow’s milk cheese formed into a “wheel”, usually weighing in at around six kilos. Swiss and French alpine goat herders used to heat it on their mountain campfires, scraping the melted cheese onto bread or potatoes. Surely an upgrade on the ploughman’s lunch.

Having herded our “kids” into their nighttime pens, “Magic” Malcolm of yonder Brockley and yours truly have escaped for school-night Alpine bistro dining. Starring a huge cheese.

The Alpes menu is centred, of course, around Savoyard specialities but has more to offer than just extreme cheesiness.

They do a fondue savoyarde (minimum for two), a fusion meltdown of gruyere, ogleshield and raclette to dip unlimited baguette and pickles in till the goats come home, but we went for the classic raclette jurassienne, melted raclette theatrically scraped in front of us onto potatoes, pickles and crispy pancetta (optional).

What’s not to like? Indulgent and extremely more-ish.

I am not an éminence grise on the cuisines of the French/Swiss mountains, so someone else can establish alpine authenticities, but we also enjoyed some very deft small plate offerings away from raclette.

Arguably, and we did, highlights were the two veggie dishes – asparagus, wild garlic, butterbean hummus, hazelnut pesto followed by cauliflower, romesco, pearl barley. Precise cooking, heavy on flavour and texture, particularly the (right on seasonal trend) asparagus.

Carnivores can relax with a nicely subsiding slow cooked beef cheek, pancetta, shallots, pickled mushrooms or long braised pork belly, apple puree, purple broccoli. And they have a seriously good alpine wine list to frolic through, with lots by the glass.

I don’t normally do desserts, but we shared Alpes’ solitary offering, a nice rhubarb and almond mille-feuille.

Once again, Pop has come up with a new tenant doing interesting off-piste dishes and really the only thing missing at Alpes (thankfully) is endless shots of schnapps (the crack of alcohol) and a pre-Meghan Prince Harry in his less responsible party days.

We may have to go back for the fondue.

Pop Brixton, SW9 8PQ (upper level) | | | @alpeslondon