Salon Brixton pop up with Joey O’Hare
As a fan of Masterchef, I have been lucky to meet a few contestants and eat their food and in some cases, become their friend too. One of these is the lovely Josephine O’Hare, whom I first met about a year ago when I attended her regular supper club Hare on the Hill in Clapham and loved it. Since then we’ve been in touch and have become friends, but I had not been able (for reasons obvious to regular readers) to go back to one of her events. Finally, the time came and I booked two tickets for her pop up collaboration with Salon Brixton. This almost ‘local’ restaurant was somewhere I had heard a lot of and been meaning to try for a while, so it seemed the perfect occasion. Joey’s food is natural, seasonal and vegcentric and I had already been impressed by her skills in extracting incredible flavours from humble vegetables.
Under a pouring rain (so much for summer), we made our way through the Brixton market, where now a lot of funky and fancy eateries are located. We were welcomed by a vodka based cocktail (pineapple weed & rhubarb with foraged herbs) and ushered upstairs to our table, where we found a few familiar faces and friends already. Joey’s events are usually part ‘your own dish’ part sharing so it’s good to be at a table with a mix of people you know and some you don’t.
Fresh bread was on the table already, focaccia and soda bread to accompany foraged vegetables, pickled by Joey and some delicious pickled allottment tomatoes by Nicholas Balfe, the friendly chef of Salon itself. The only meat item of the night was also amongst the starters, a light rabbit rillette prepared by Joey.
Seasonal and inventive
Soon more food arrived: an off the menu dish of fried squash flowers with chilli flakes (found at the market in the morning!) and a globe artichoke with a cod’s roe dip. I absolutely loved the chunky, fleshy leaves of the artichoke, and picked one by one until we got to the sweet, tender heart.
A light, chilled ‘soup’ followed: almond and kefir soup with allottment cucumber, fig leaf oil and fresh fig, this was a great dish and very pretty too. My iphone photos don’t do the food justice but I had been way too lazy to bring my camera unfortunately.
Next a dish of lentils, roasted mushrooms and mushroom ketchup by Nicholas. I enjoyed it, but thought the portion was a bit small and looked a bit lonely on the big plate:
Joey’s skillet soufflé with goat’s cheese & hazelnut followed, served still in the process of cooking at the table: it looked impressive, and it was super airy, but perhaps too light? Goat’s cheese is a strong flavour but did not come across through the light texture, which I still loved as well as the inspired crunch of the hazelnuts. A beautifully colourful salad of carrots and beetroot was served too and this is where I wasn’t so keen on sharing because I managed to get s single slice of beetroot, and one or two carrots 🙁
Dessert time! I had been waiting to try Joey’s amazing ‘cheesecake’ since last year’s supper club: it did not disappoint, served with macerated summer berries, it was just to die for. How she manages to create such a beautiful texture and mooreish cake with cashew nuts is beyond me.
A coffee cup arrived at the table, with Nicholas’ chocolate and salted caramel pot. Again, I wasn’t too happy this was to be shared amongst 4 or 5 of us, especially because it’s a spoon dessert…maybe better served in small espresso cups next time? It was however really good, dark, intense flavour of raw chocolate and fresh creme fraiche on top.
At this point we had to rush off – it was already 10pm and 3 hours are enough for us – Cinderella style, we said goodbye and left, still under the pouring rain.
We had an enjoyable night with some great food and lovely company, despite the weather. It was a pleasure to know Nicholas and try his food as well. Joey is a talented chef and a super nice person, and I am looking forward to trying her food yet again soon.