It's not fancy, it's not big and it's not clever, but the scrag end is delicious. For simple, honest opinions on restaurants, recipes, supper clubs and what not, you've come to the right place.

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

The Old Hat Club, 11 July, somewhere near Angel tube station

Disclaimer: I should declare an interest. The Old Hat Club is run by some of my favourite people, and my experience there was the reason for the launch of this blog. So you should take everything that follows in that context. That said, it’s still an amazing little place, and I don’t think my generous review would have been any less so if I hadn’t already known Harry, Emma, Ami and Tim (or HEAT, if you prefer).

First, the clientele: you know this scene has got a little bloated when more than half the guests at a pop-up restaurant are food bloggers. That’s like, cannibalism, man. The reason was all the lovely Prosecco, supplied by Riccardo, who had invited said bloggers to promote his rather good drink. A good reason, indeed.
Guests were welcomed with a cocktail – a strawberry and Prosecco concoction laced with black pepper. A little bit of summer in a glass, and something to lubricate the vocal chords. Outside in the garden, next to the frankly intimidating (in a manly way) wood burning oven, we were offered some super black pudding pastry canap├ęs, and some even superer red pepper and bottarga follow-ups, all fresh from the aforementioned oven.
Then inside for lunch proper, and scrowlers stuffed with herbs (the fennel and dill stood out, but there were others) on tomatoes on bruschetta for starter. This was the course of the day, seriously good. A note on scrowlers: they are sardines, but clearly someone thought the world needed lots of words for that particular fish, so some Cornish folk call them scrowlers. Even more impressive was that some unlucky soul had successfully removed every single bone from the fish before stuffing – not easy. The contrast between the sweet tomatoes and fishy, salty scrowler is one that others have exploited in the past. But that’s because it’s great. Sometimes, there’s a reason for doing it like they do it in the Med.

Then onward, to a main course that played on the same tongue-lust for salt and sweet. The slow cooked pork with crackling was melty enough to feel indulgent, yet robust enough to give you something to chew. This atop a sweet, smoked, butternut squash puree – that magic oven again – and some ridiculously naughty, crunchy, goose-fat and smoke covered potatoes. Only something so wrong could taste so good.
That the pork was the least interesting course should tell you everything you need to know about the dessert. A kind of Moroccan citrus tart with sorbet, it was sweet, bitter, giving and cakey in one easy mix. The ginger and sour cherry Florentines that followed were the icing on the cake (or rather, the crunchy biscuit on the tart).
For £30, you won’t do a lot better in London. Anywhere. Really. Just ask all those bloggers.

Phil Letts' take: 9/10


  1. Hold on, which one in the crowd were/are you then??

  2. Ah, well that would be telling. Also, thanks for making the first comment on my blog! I feel like I should give you a prize. Will my eternal thanks do?

  3. Glad you like the Riccardo Prosecco!
    I hope you had enough to properly sample it. If not, let me know and I'll send you the coordinates to find our bottles in London.
    The "bowler hat" club it's a great place: we enjoyed very much!


    I think I can take you.

  5. That's a terrific idea. Thanks Tim.