Places To Eat In London: Lupin’s, Borough
My diary has been pretty full recently of exciting street food and world flavours, so when it came to choose somewhere to go to lunch on Saturday I had just two criteria: that I would not have to get on the tube to get there (something pretty easy to manage living in Borough, within walking distance of the market, Bermondsey Street, Flat Iron Square and the Southwark restaurant district), and that the chosen spot did something exciting with local ingredients in what has come to be the ‘British’ way, meaning that while there were some world influences and flavours in there, it was not religiously subscribed to one cuisine.
Lupins is a small, neighbourhood restaurant around the corner from Flat Iron Square. The menu consists of a small, curated and ever changing selection of small plates and nibbles, with everything arriving as an when it is ready with everything designed for sharing. With a small amount of tables upstairs and even fewer seats along the tiny open kitchen bar downstairs, I’d recommend booking in advance.
We started with some wine. They have a good, curated collection, and you can get most of the wine list either as a glass, carafe or whole bottle. We went for by the glass as we could not agree between white or red, but as a general rule get a bottle to share: the glasses are small and the wine is pricy, so it will be better value.
Typically nibbles come before the small plates, but everything at Lupins seems to just come out when it is ready so we started with a plate of cornmeal crusted spring onions served with the most wonderful chipotle mayonnaise. We both loved these, great to dig into (if not a little messy to eat), and our only qualm was that by themselves they can get a bit fatty – perhaps order these if you’re at a table with more than two of you? One good thing about the mess is the service at Lupins was fantastic throughout, and unlike other small plates places where they expect you to use the same little individual plates each throughout the meal, they kept on changing them out for fresh ones. It’s little touches like this that make a meal enjoyable.
Next our snacks came. The white bean crostini with capers and anchovies were punchy and simple, but the courgette, chilli and ricotta croquettes served with micro herbs and a wonderful spiced honey really stole the show. They were so wonderfully crisp and light, the filling was so more-ish, and we both decided they were one of the best things we tried from the menu – we honestly could have had so many more of them. If they’re still on (as I said, the menu follows the seasons) when you visit, order these.
Next we had the burrata with (what was listed on the menu as roasted white peach but was actually yellow), rocket and speck, with a generous amount of peppery extra virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar drizzled over. This really was a showcase of really great ingredients which I really enjoyed – however, I did not mind that there were not enough peach pieces as they were not really ripe enough. Also, while I loved all the balsamic as it is a flavour I crave, my lunch date found it a bit much.
Another one of our favourites was the Coronation scallop with mango chutney and a samphire pakora.The beautiful Indian flavours – bright, punchy and complex – provided a beautifully creamy sauce for our big, tender in the shell scallop (happily with the coral still attached), and the crispy bits of samphire were also fantastic. However, we should have ordered one each, so we were not splitting one scallop between two.
Next, we come to a dish we almost did not order, but ended up being hands up the best thing we ate at Lupins, and also one of the best things I’ve had in ages: this is another one of those dishes I simply have not shut up about since last Saturday. Our schnitzel pork chop was topped with an umami bonito mayo, chilli oil anointed rocket, lightly pickled cucumber cubes, and the most delicious and curious pickled shimeji mushrooms which added a real burst of flavour to every bite and really cut through the rich meat. This was delicious, different and complex, and I wish I had a plate of this with me right now, not just a photo of it!
Our final savoury plate was the rare bavette with crispy violet artichokes and an anchovy heavy bagna cauda sauce. The steak was beautiful, but the dish was a bit much – lots of rich, heavy flavours and a bit too much sauce. The artichokes really balanced it out, but get this if you’re into big, hearty flavours.
We got the two different sparkling wines that come by the glass to go with our desserts. The French cremant was beautiful and light, but the English sparkling (I can’t even remember the name it was that generic) was a bit disappointing – it certainly did not help in my campaign to turn my date over to English wine! Anyway, our desserts were lovely. The very rich chocolate mousse with sesame and salted caramel was the perfect size for sharing, and while he was not big on the sesame pieces, I found the smoky, slightly savoury shards in the crisp caramel really lifted the whole dish and cut through the chocolate. I was also very impressed with the lemon posset with a cherry compote (lovely, fresh bright flavours without being too much) served with an impossibly crumbly shortbread.
We had a lovely meal, in spite of a few niggles and walked home feeling very full! I’d really recommend visiting Lupins if you like food that is interesting, and while some of the dishes are not perfect, some of the plates that come out of the kitchen are so wonderful they more than make up for it. However, as well as booking allow lots of time for your visit, because while service is flawless, it is also a little slow, so you’ll be there a good few hours!