BY PALOMA LACY
Streatham’s dining scene is well and truly back. Slowly but surely empty restaurants are being filled with corkers that might just take the high road back to the former glory days of decades gone by.
The newest opening, Carmine, truly made my heart sing when I visited last Thursday evening.
Named after the infamous Soprano’s mafia boss Carmine Lupertazzi, it must just be pure luck that it opened its doors last month, around the same time the Soprano’s film launched.
Either that or there’s some seriously strong Hollywood connections that we’re yet to know about.
A collection of small and large plates, designed with sharing in mind, the menu had a familiar style that I couldn’t quite place my finger on but upon learning that Ozzy Marin Peer’s in the kitchen, it made sense.
Known for his work at Peckham Cellars and The Ivy West Street, he’s now brought his magic touch to Streatham.
I like a menu that changes my mind and that’s just what happened here.
Fried olives stuffed with feta sounded like a dish I wouldn’t enjoy.
Taking a high fat ingredient and adding calories to it seemed an unnecessary step but worked beautifully.
The biggest surprise of the night was burrata, scotch bonnet pickled pineapple, fresh anchovies and rocket.
My companion turned her nose up at the mere suggestion we give it a go but she was glad I’d insisted, once we’d tucked in.
A balanced dish full of confidence and bold flavours, tempered by the coolness of burrata – this is culinary innovation at its finest.
Karaage fried chicken, with nori garlic aioli, was pretty sensational, delivering crunch, juicy meat and well-seasoned flavour, before it even touched the dip.
It’s moreish and we held ourselves back from ordering more but only because rarebit, cheddar and beer croquettes arrived to keep us quiet.
This dish pipped the others to the post as my personal favourite of the night and I’d go back for these alone.
Smooth, silky, cheesy filled golden balls, served with a tomato and chilli relish, a knock out combination.
Grilled lamb chops, roast aubergine, cannellini puree and chimichurri and mussels in cider and nduja broth were solid choices but would probably have received greater appreciation from hungrier people.
We didn’t leave a morsel of the starters, including Blackbird sourdough and whipped sage butter.
There was just one dessert on the menu – chocolate tart with raspberry and pear – which felt a little odd.
While it wouldn’t have been my usual choice, I enjoyed the freeze dried raspberry topping.
Carmine, 20-21 The High Parade, Streatham High Road, SW16 1EX.
Lovers of doughnuts, ice cream and cookies from Crosstown will be pleased to hear of the new home delivery service of festive flavours, plus gifting options, with many of these vegan.
The Christmas doughnut range includes miso caramel, pecan chocolate, Cointreau custard with a mulled wine glaze, and cranberry matcha cake.
Taking its small batch ice cream up a level, the new range includes Bailey’s, gingerbread and chocolate orange.
Also new for the festive season are ginger, hazelnut and chocolate chip cookies – baked with a crisp exterior and a soft, yielding centre, bursting with warming winter spices, dark chocolate, and a hint of candied orange.
These are studded with whole toasted hazelnuts for the perfect crunch.
Order for yourself or gift wrapped for loved ones.
Last deliveries will be on Christmas Eve. Go to www.crosstown.co.uk Fairfields
Farm calls it Christmas dinner in a packet – roast turkey and stuffing crisps, combining the flavours of a juicy bird, with the herby taste of sage an onion stuffing.
Nothing says Christmas quite like a festive crisp, the perfect accompaniment to drinks.
Lovingly-created using the very best, hand-selected potatoes grown on Fairfields Farm and hand cooked in its purpose-built crisp factory using 100 per cent renewable energy.
They are available in 150g bags from Co-op and independent retailers across the UK.
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