A few weeks okay I was invited to the Camberwell Love pop-up at the newly refurbished Steam Passage Tavern in Islington.
I must admit, I hadn't heard of the Camberwell Love pop-up before but when I was told it was James Cochrane's venture (The Ledbury and Harwood Arms) that started in Camberwell and had just moved to Islington for a couple of nights, I was excited to attend.
It might have seemed incongruous to serve a fancy 8-course meal in quite an average pub on Islington's Upper Street but I liked the fact Camberwell Love didn't just do the obvious and were more creative in their idea for the location.
We arrived at 7pm and were greeted with a cocktail of Spiced Rum with Apple, Elderflower, Green Pepper and Soda. It was a slightly odd taste with the fiery green pepper but it was wintery and warming and I liked it.
We were seated with a couple of fellow bloggers and we were only told what food we were eating as they brought each course over to us. I enjoyed the surprise of it all and it made a nice change not having to choose what I was having to eat.
After nibbling on bread and butter, we were brought some canapés of Cheese and Ale on toast with truffle, Smoked cods roe with potato crisps and Beetroot crisps with goats curd. All three canapés were inventive and delicious, particularly the Cheese and Ale on toast which was a little mouthful of naughtiness. We were all delighted when they brought some extra ones around on a tray and we didn't have to be asked twice to try another.
Our first course was Pickled mackerel and oyster fritter with sea vegetables and shellfish tea. The tea consisted of cucumber ribbons & dice, raddish, nasturtium and nori powder and was poured over the mackerel at the table. I am not a fan of oysters but I was brave and decided to try the oyster fritter which actually tasted like scampi in the golden breadcrumbs and was quite pleasant.
Next came Celeriac, chocmalt, hens egg, smoked bone marrow and nuts. On paper this would not appeal to me at all but it was actually really tasty. I didn't eat the hens egg, as I am not an egg fan at all, but the flavours all worked well together.
When the next course arrived, it was instantly my favourite so far. It was a beautifully presented plate of Cornish cod with cauliflower beignet, shaved cauliflower, romanesco, cod skin crisp and curd. I love cauliflower and it worked so well with the perfectly cooked cod, which was well seasoned and just melted in your mouth.
However, the next course pipped the cod at the post. Head and cheek of pork, roast challots, rye crumb, sorrel and ogleshield. It was DIVINE. The pork was deliciously sweet and sticky and my only complaint was there wasn't enough of it. I could have eaten it again and again and the caramelised shallots and rye crumb, which was almost like crackling, matched the pork perfectly.
Camberwell Love brought some youthful fun with the next course and it was the only part of the pop-up that you would relate to the usual 'diner' style pop-up, with a Bourbon, maple and vanilla milkshake. I don't usually like milkshakes but I enjoyed this one. It had heat from the bourbon and the maple and vanilla gave it a pudding like quality without being too sweet. They came in paper cups with neon coloured straws and I think they definitely contributed to my slight hangover the next day (I am sure the copious wine drank throughout the 8 courses was largely the cause).
To end the meal we were presented with a slate board with 4 perfectly sized chocolate parfait slabs covered in Pearl barley and chocolate malt popcorn. The parfait and honeycomb crumbled over the top were delicious but I did find the barley and malt popcorn gave the dish a slightly odd crunch and bitter aftertaste.
I had a really enjoyable evening at Camberwell Love. It's a pop-up that is unique, talented and fun and very reasonably priced at £45 for 8 courses and a cocktail. James Cochrane is a young chef that will go far and he and his pop-up are definitely ones to watch.
Dotty Dishes was a guest of Camberwell Love.
For more information and to keep an eye out for the next pop-up visit https://www.facebook.com/camberwelllove.