Tuesday, February 9, 2010

Fun at the Hart & Fuggle

The problem about pop-up restaurants is that by the time you hear about them they’re gone. Or are totally booked out as was the case with Hart & Fuggle which is currently being run off Brick Lane by Alice Hart and Georgie Fuggle

Fortunately I knew one of the chefs for the night who tipped me off: James Ramsden aka The Larder Lout aka one of my co-authors of The Ultimate Student Cookbook. Another contributor, Signe Johansen and I decided it was a great opportunity for an authors’ reunion so along we went with Sig's boyfriend Tom.

The meal was held in a building called the Rag Factory, no doubt at one time a clothing sweatshop but now a very cool space. The tin-topped tables (above) looked amazingly pretty. Alice and Georgie had borrowed them from the Petersham Café and decorated them with pots of spring flowers. Even the jugs of water, filled with finely sliced lime, looked inviting.

James’s meal was more Moorish than the Moroccan Night billed on the menu. A very Moro-esque chestnut soup with chorizo (and a nice hit of cumin), a gently spiced lamb tagine with pomegranate couscous (above) and spiced roast carrots and a Tunisian orange cake (below). He also threw in some babaganoush and homemade warm flatbread to keep the wolf from the door when we arrived and homemade chocolates and fresh oranges with mint tea to finish. All delicious (though obviously we were biased). And there was a cute pot of ‘St Clement’s Curd’ to take away.

The cost was £30, not unreasonable for that amount of food and the amount of effort that must have gone into getting the restaurant up and running. And half the proceeds went to Centrepoint so I doubt anyone is making much if any money on it. Good for them.

We were discussing at table whether pop-ups are here to stay. At the moment they have the virtue of novelty - getting in is like managing to get tickets for a rare gig by a cult band or being invited to a very large, rather cool dinner party but that may wear off as more and more people get in on the act. Anyway it was a great evening - the best Monday night I’ve spent for a long while. Well done, James. Well done, Alice and Georgie.

Have you been to a pop-up and what do you think about them? Do you think they’ll last?



  1. Ah! This one did loiok intriguing, sadly I missed the tickets. The food sounds lovely and I love the idea of the little take home pot. How lovely! Nice venue too. Well done all.

  2. Was a lovely evening, and definitely one of the better Monday nights out in a long time I agree! Haven't been to many pop-ups at all, but the setting for this one was just right. We shall see if the pop-up has staying power...

  3. It was really nice - a much more personal experience than going to a restaurant though obviously it helped to know the people who were running it. About to consume the curd for a late breakfast ;-)

  4. I'm not sure pop-ups do have the advantage of novelty anymore. The first one's popped up, pardon the bad, bad punning, a year or so ago and if they have made it into the scripts of BBC comedies (aka Material Girl) then they're not exactly sitting on the cutting edge.
    I hope they stick around as long as they continue to give people (new chefs/foodies and alike) an opportunity to try their hand at restaurantaur-ism a go without having to start up a full-blown venue. It also gives an attractive sense of exclusivity that Londoners LOVE. We shall have to wait and see ..

  5. pop-ups need more of a USP than merely being pop-ups, especially if charging restaurant prices

  6. Good point, Anne. It is an opportunity to see if you actually like being at the sharp end without going to the immense expense of setting up a business.

    And I agree, Patrick. They need to have something going for them other than just being a pop-up (in H & F's case a great venue/art for sale/charity aspect) Themed food from cuisines that are rarely cooked would tempt me too.