Thursday, 26 February 2009

The Flea Pit

The Flea Pit is one of my favourite places. It's on Columbia road right next to the little bit of park near where the flower market starts. I'm not sure if it is classed as a bar or a cafe. Anyway it's called the Flea Pit as it has a tiny cinema in the back room. It's normally hired out for private screenings and sometime has musical events. I have never been to any of these events and I've never been in to the back cinema. I've only walked by the doorway on the way to the toilet.

What I love about the Flea Pit is the front bar/cafe. It's nicely decorated with simple white paint and simple furniture and light fittings from the 60's and 70's. It looks expensive but I've been informed by the staff that most of the stuff was bought for bargain prices on eBay about 10 years ago.

The bar tends to be quite calm given the area it's in and you can most of the time get a seat even on a Friday or a Saturday night when the place is at it's busiest.

Now the thing which really makes the Flea Pit a gem and keeps me coming back is the amazing selection of beers. The only thing on tap however is Freedom Organic larger although I have never tried this. The rest of the beers are (the more interesting ones) are bottled.

I've been to the Rake in Borough Market and the Dove in Broadway Market but I feel you get bombarded with a huge choice of bottles which are mostly indistinguishable Belgium beers. What is great about the Flea Pit is the selection although smaller is more concise and the drinks on offer are variations of English brews. This does not however mean they are all brewed in the UK as is evident from a South American porter called Porto. Although a lot of beers stocked are brewed in British micro breweries with some even inside the M25.

A helpful menu guides a good description of what to expect but what even better is just asking the staff what they recommend. I go to the Flea Pit a few times a month and it feels nice that I am remembered and recommended new drinks that the staff think I will like every time I'm in.

Porters and stouts seem to be the drinks that I have been drinking mostly and two drinks in particular have become my favourites.

The Flea Pit also serves proper coffee and has a limited menu of organic food.

First is the Power Station Porter from the Battersea Brewery. It's a very nice mellow Porter which has a subtle depth to the darkness of the flavour. A reassuring drink that's very easy to drink all night. This drink unfortunately hasn't been available for about six months now and I've been informed by the Flea Pit that orders have been placed but the brewery has not supplied them.

Secondly is O Hanlons Port Stout which as the name suggests is a stout enriched with Port. . It's a far more indulgent drink than the Porter and feels more like a treat. It's rich, deep and sweet and feels just like the kind of thing to drink during winter.

Meat Monday

An autumn Saturday last year, inspired by the amazing meatloaf that Fran had just cooked and the lament that some of us were not as carnivorous as we wanted, a group of us made a solemn promise that from that day forward Mondays would be Meat Mondays!

Each Monday one of us would take it in turns to cook a meal around which the main focus would be meat.

Since that day Monday has seen steaks, pot roasts, pork belly, pheasant, shepherds pie, stews, bolognese, casseroles and numerous other meaty wonders.

The plan is that every Tuesday from now on will feature a post about the previous days Meat Monday.

Today, though, I am going to write a little about probably the highlight of these meals:

Lewis received from his girlfriend Mathilde for Christmas this cookbook. It is written by the owner, Fergus Henderson, of the famous London restaurant St. John.
There are many amazing dishes in that book and hopefully we will have a chance to write about some of them in later posts. I would love to eat at St. John and you can be sure that if I do a review will follow!

This particular Monday, however, Lewis's friend Ben, an excellent cook who has just started his first restaurant job, was going to make us something particularly special from it's pages.

As a starter we ate fried lambs brains, the main course was home-made salt beef, I don't think we had any room left for pudding!
The brains were delicious, very crunchy on the outside the inside was creamy, rich and subtly flavoured.
Here they are after being poached in stock and still quite clearly brains!

After this they were split in to lobes, dipped in egg, breadcrumbs and deep fried. We ate them served with a bowl of green sauce or salsa verde again using a recipe from Nose to Tail Eating.

If you are not picky about food you should definitely try brains, you'll be glad you did!
We ate the salt beef with green vegetables and mashed potato and lots of strong mustard, delicious.

I don't have any photos of the meal on the plate, hopefully future Meat Monday posts will have some of the food more attractively presented.

Tuesday, 24 February 2009


This is a blog about food.
A blog about meals we have cooked, about meals we have bought.
It is about things we have drunk, restaurants we have eaten in.
About recipes we have found, recipes we have invented.
It is about anything else that you might put in your mouth.

It is written by me, Dominic

and by Lewis