Friday, November 22, 2013
Hawker House (Street Feast), 15th November
What can I say about Street Feast that I haven't said before? It's a fantastic concept and with every new venue or new iteration they seem to improve upon it. Having moved on from Dalston Yard in the autumn, they are now ensconced in Hawker House for the winter (well, pre-Christmas winter).
This time roughly the same 10 outfits are there every week, but to keep you coming back for more, the menu is changing every weekend. So, Spit and Roast I have had on many occasion, and may normally overlook, but then they decide to offer things like spit roasted pork belly, or chicken braise with sausage. As it happens, these weren't enough to tempt me on my visit because there were some other places I hadn't yet tried at all, but you can see how they're managing to keep the spark burning amongst even their tried and tested customers.
But, much as I love them, and Yum Bun, and Breddo's, I was lusting after new blood that night. And Stephen was there to help me. After grabbing a drink from the Hot Bar (serving a pretty good range of hot, boozy drinks, from hot toddies to mulled wine, via various hot rums - I had the buttered variety which was delicious) we did a quick circuit to decide where to start.
I veered back to Rola Wala who I hadn't tried before. I'd already read the weekend's menu before and thought the rolasliders sounded good. Being cooked on the tava, they looked it as well, so I decided to have just one as a 'starter'. The meat du jour was pulled pork, from piggies we were assured were living a happy life, well, until the day before the day before when it sadly ended for them. This was piled on a mini naan and then on top of that pickled, minted red onion, mango sauce, savian crunch, some other sauce and for an extra 50p a shot of scorpion chilli powder. The bread was slightly crunchy itself from being on the tava but pliant enough to be folded around the meat so it could all be stuffed into my waiting maw. Delicious.
Stephen tried out the sliders from Breddo's (they're resident at the Sider bar don'tchaknow) and thought they were amazing. 'Why are sliders so much tastier than regular-sized burgers?' he mused. He'd already said the classic slider was a good'un but he was even more enthusiastic about the 5 chilli cheesburger he had right after.
Not keen to rest on our laurels we headed for round two straight away. I'm so glad Stephen wanted something from Smokestak as I was very tempted by them, but Bob's Lobsters had been calling to me. A bargain compared to the one you get at Burger and Lobster and just as good I reckon. They look bloody impressive with a big lobster claw sticking out the top and have just the right amount of mayo and other relish. The lobster itself tasted a little cajun which was a pleasant surprise. It was well worth the worrying minute or so when my lips started tingling and my tongue started itching and I'd do it again!
Stephen had what would win 'most impractically-served dish' of the night - a big, juicy, saucy bit of beef rib, in some brown paper, which got pretty soggy pretty quickly. You can't really go wrong with a well cooked bit of BBQ, though Stephen's bit did have maybe a little too much fat. Naturally he ate it, but felt really guilty afterwards.
I was feeling pretty done by that point but we didn't want to give up just yet so we had a drink while we digested. I wanted to give StreetVinWine a go, although the Whiskey bar, at which they have managed to create a tiny speakeasy-type den was also tempting. But wine it was and I ordered their cheapest red, thinking this would still be pretty good if they were priding themselves in serving good wine. And it was. And then I did something silly, and used up all my money bar £3.70 buying Stephen a glass of rioja. Why was this silly? Well, I hadn't realised he only had £3 left himself.
So it came to 'dessert' and we discovered we didn't have enough money between us to buy the chocolate, venison and beetroot ravioli from Cooking Cooks at £7 we'd had our hearts set on sharing. As we watched the stall looking slightly neglected compared to the other traders, we (as in Stephen) decided to risk rejection and ventured to ask if they might accept £6.70 instead of the full whack. This they generously did, and, I hasten to add, were instantly met with good karma, as us buying a dish immediately attracted a mini-queue.
I am really glad we shared this as eating it on my own would have been too much - it was a very rich, dense dish. Each element was noticeable but it worked really well together. As you put the raviolo in your mouth, the chocolate aromas filled it, but as you bit into it the beetroot and venison overpowered this to make it a very savoury dish. It was served with a gorgeous brandy and butter sauce, which I could have happily had more of, and some parmesan shavings. Not just an attention-grabbing gimmick but a really tasty, well thought out plate of food. The styrofoam bowl and my photography skills don't do it justice!
Having spent our very last pennies, and feeling completely full, we departed after an hour and a half. It was just warming up in terms of atmosphere, but by all accounts things really got busy about a half an hour after that so if you want to go - get down there early! You'll also avoid the £3 charge they're using to help crowd control after 7pm.
I shall be back again tomorrow. Venison rolasliders, I'm looking at you!