Open Kitchen #2: Freddie Janssen
Carousel is welcoming esteemed chefs from the continent in a culinary kiss-off to Brexit. The monthly series celebrates the unique cosmopolitanism of London's dining scene, thanks in part to the varied nationalities represented. For the second edition, catch Dutch transplant Freddie Janssen, a pickling pioneer who heads up F.A.T. pickles and formerly worked as a chef at Lyle's. Forty-five quid will get you a Mexican sharing feast, where zingy, experimental tacos are the star. The price also includes complimentary wines and surprise cocktails.
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As semi-fast food spots seem to spread, DF Mexico bring their own version to Tottenham Court Road. In a big, dimly lit stripped down space with plenty of urban art decorating the place, the vibe is just about right with plenty of choice on the menu. The Tortas were our highlight - a Mexican sandwich served in a toasted brioche bun with smashed avocado, slaw and house pickle. The DIY Mexican boards also give you a choice of fillings to do it yourself, though the tortillas were a bit small. Normally sides can be a bit of an afterthought: but the stuff here adds a whole new dimension to the plates with both the cup of corn and chilli fries being excellent. To wash all that flavour down, they do three frozen Margaritas (the Raspberry was our pick) plus a special Lupolo pale ale made specially for them by Brixton Brewery. All in all, a satisfying spot - good for an afterwork meal especially.
Taco heavyweights and street food favourites Breddos Tacos have opened a permanent taqueria in Clerkenwell which is big on cocktails, big on vinyl and crazy about tacos. Of course the main focus here is on the tacos - come for lunch and you'll be spoilt for choice with tacos layered with baja fish and lime mayo, beef rib eye and pickled jalapeno or Sichuan style chicken. Come for late brunch and it's all about the blueberry churro French toast. At dinner things get more restauranty with heavier dishes like spit roast Iberico Pork on the menu.
The hugely successful brothers behind London's favourite Spanish mini-chain - Barrafina - have had a change of heart - they're now all about Mexican cooking. Sod Spanish food. Under the railway arches of London Bridge, El Pastor is an industrial taqueria serving all your Mexican faves alongside a couple of lesser-known surprises. This is where the al pastόr comes in - a Mexican kebab made with marinated pork shoulder, caramelised pineapple, finely sliced onions and chopped coriander. Combine that with a tequila cocktail and you'll be well away.
Monograph London is a pop up supper club which is taking the concept of experiential dining one step further. They'll be offering their specialised dining experiences over four Friday evenings for the next month, where patrons will be given coordinates for a secret location, prepared a three-course dinner, and encouraged to mingle amongst themselves in the communal dining space, which promises to evoke the sights and sounds of Tokyo. On the menu are simple, fresh ingredients expertly prepared: a watercress salad with sesame dressing to start, followed by Sanuki udon in an umami-rich dashi broth served with Scottish smoked mackerel and mixed seaweeds, then 24-hour marinated Scottish salmon in a white miso sauce, and Japanese sweets selection for dessert. The event is BYOB, or you can opt in to the sake flight option for an extra £19. Dietary restrictions can be catered to, just give advance notice.