The Secret Garden review: Inspired culinary creations in a relaxing summer pop-up
Returning to Clapham this summer, pop-up supremo Jimmy Garcia has opened not one, but two pop-ups. Last year I checked out his supper club at DVine Cellars (which is back again for 2015) and had an amazing culinary adventure. However, this year I went along to visit his long-term pop-up restaurant The Secret Garden. Situated above the Clapham North pub, The Secret Garden could not be more of a contrast from the venue downstairs. While the pub can is a bit of a party venue at the weekends, the restaurant is relaxing, earthy and comfortable.
Entering through an old wooden door on Landor Road, the whimsical theme is set with flowers and greenery as you wind your way up the stairs. The light and airy first floor contains a small bar and restaurant, with the kitchen service window located in what looks like a caravan, which is a fun touch. The room was full of plants and garden furniture, really bring the ‘outside inside’, making it feel very summery. The Secret Garden prides itself on using fresh and seasonal ingredients, sourced from independent farmers and foragers. The menu had changed a bit from the one on the website, but the dishes looked amazing. You have the choice of the traditional à la carte menu or the Deluxe Picnic for 2, featuring sharing dishes served on a mini picnic table. While we perused the menu, my friend and I chose some of the botanical cocktails. I ordered a summer spritz with elderflower and bubbly, which was light and refreshing.
To start, my friend and I both opted for seafood/fish options. I decided on the Octopus, which was served with garden vegetables. The octopus was full of flavour, an easy texture to chew and was well complemented by the sauce and vegetables. My companion thoroughly enjoyed the tuna tartare. I’m a frequent connoisseur of salmon and aim to go for other fish when I dine out. However, at the Secret Garden I couldn’t resist a fillet with breadcrumb and herb topping. I have to admit it was one of the best pieces of salmon I’ve ever tasted, the breadcrumbs and herbs really brought out the traditional salmon flavours in a different way. It was accompanied by puréed peas, tomato, edible flowers and mashed potato – again one of my favourite things to eat – so the dish was a win-win all round for me. My friend plumped for the oxtail, served with summer vegetables, which she said was incredibly filling and rich.
By the time it came to dessert, we were feeling pretty stuffed. However, we were intrigued by the ‘Edible Garden’ so decided to share one. The Edible Garden was a chocolate pudding topped with watercress, meringue mushrooms and edible flowers. The watercress with the chocolate was definitely an unusual combination but it worked. The chocolate was rich and tasted delicious, but I was glad to be sharing it as it would have been too rich for me to eat the whole thing.
Overall, we really enjoyed our Secret Garden experience. The staff were friendly and enthusiastic, regularly topping up our water glasses. All of us dishes were rich in flavour, fresh and delicious, while the summery and light cocktails complemented our meal well. The Secret Garden is only open until the end of August, so I recommend you get down there before it goes.
- The Secret Garden, 409 Clapham Road, Clapham North, SW9 9BT. Nearest station: Clapham North. Is open from 25 April – 13 September 2015. Opening times: Mon-Thurs – 5-12pm, Fri – 5pm-1am, Sat – 12pm-1am, Sun – 12-7pm. For more information and booking, visit Jimmy’s Pop Up website.
Disclaimer: Metro Girl was a guest of the Secret Garden restaurant for this review.
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