Jimmy’s Underground Pop-Up Restaurant review: A gastronomical adventure in a Clapham cellar
Last Friday, I was luckily able to score two places at Jimmy’s Pop-Up Restaurant in the cellar at DVine Cellars in Clapham. I recently blogged about the for-a-limited-time-only culinary destination ahead of its return to SW9 following a successful turn last year and was eager to try out the food on offer once it opened. On the night in question, Jimmy Garcia and his team were serving the ‘Ethically Sourced 5 Course Menu’, which included all food for £30. Its prime location in the cellar of a wine shop meant you could pick a glass or bottle of wine to suit each course. On your table was a menu (which changes weekly) with different drink recommendations for each dish. Although I was slowly nursing a glass of sparkling white as I wasn’t in the mood for drinking too much, my friend followed the recommendations from the sommeliers upstairs and ended up trying three different reds.
The cellar is an intimate, cosy space with seating for 26 diners with the kitchen in full view so you can see the chefs in action and smell the – quite frankly amazing – scents wafting out of the oven and hobs. We ended up on a bench in the middle of a table of around eight-nine other diners so it was a good opportunity to meet new people from a variety of jobs and backgrounds. Upon arrival, we were greeted by Jimmy who was friendly and chatty and gave us a quick introduction to the night’s proceedings – advising us to keep hold of our menu because it doubled as a raffle ticket – nice touch! To start with there were a selection of canapés, such as salmon on cucumber or soft cheese profiteroles, which didn’t last long at all, a clear sign everyone was hungry and ready to get cracking on the main event. As a pescatarian, I was well catered for, but carnivores (as my friend was) will really be in their element with duck and game on the menu.
For our first proper course (if you don’t include canapés) we were given the choice of Duck & Orange Salad or Pea and Mint Soup. I opted for the latter which was served in a resealable jar which was a novel way to serve soup and also a handy way of keeping it warm. The soup was of a cream, thick consistency with the two main flavours complementing each other perfectly. My friend absolutely loved her salad which was served on a black slate with good sized portions – after all we did have three more courses to follow. Next was the ‘surprise course’ to cleanse the palate – mango sorbet, mango salsa and Thai-style beef cheek which was refreshing and did exactly what it said on ‘the tin’ so to speak, preparing our tastebuds for the main course.
For mains, there was a choice of Duo Of Wild Rabbit, Stuffed Loins, Leg Ragu, Potato Fondant, Pepper Emulsion and Baby Veg (which my friend had) or Seared Tuna Steak, Samphire, Sauce Viege and Lemon Potato Cylinders (for me). I often don’t eat tuna steaks because I’ve often had them under or overcooked and find them too chewy, however this one was perfect. The right texture, a good, fresh flavour and no epic chewing needed to digest it. I particularly liked the Sauce Viege, which tasted gorgeous with the fish and vegetables.
Finally, we just about had room for dessert – a unique fusion of savoury and sweet with Nutella Ice Cream, Homemade Chocolate Brownie, Morello Cherry, Hazelnuts and Black Pepper Shortbread (that’ll be the savoury!). I smelt the brownies before we ate them, with the lovely scent filling the room providing a fanfare for its arrival on a black slate. The Black Pepper Shortbread was an interesting twist, which my friend actually said she preferred to regular sugary shortbread, meaning it wasn’t so sickly sweet. The brownies were delicious and the Nutella ice cream was a perfect accompaniment… in fact I could have eaten more of it (something I didn’t think I’d say after five courses).
Overall, the meal was superb. The food was gorgeous, the wine went down a treat and we met some interesting people. The atmosphere was fun, relaxed and comfortable, while the presentation was brilliant. I loved being served food on things other than your typical circular plates – although my ice cream was making a bid for escape down the slate at one point! For £30, you get an extensive, filling menu and the chance for a ‘dining experience’ rather than a standard ‘meal out’.
- Jimmy’s Underground Pop-Up Restaurant bookings are available on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays from 8 May until the end of July at 7.30pm for an 8pm sitting. All menus are £30. Bookings must be done in advance. DVine Cellars, 74 Landor Road, Clapham, SW9 9PH. Nearest tube: Clapham North. For booking and further information, visit Jimmy’s Pop-Up website. To keep up to date with Jimmy’s other pop-ups, follow @southwestsupper on Twitter.
For a list of Metro Girl’s other restaurant reviews, click here.