MM Season 4, Episode 1

The current fad of ‘binging’ on TV box-sets has rather past the Revolt by, but in sitting down to pen this write-up of the opening night of Street Feast’s fourth season at the Model Market in Lewisham, it’s hard not to think of at as a series.  Will MM resume where it left off last year?  How might the cast change?  Will there be any dramatic new twists?  Just how messy is devouring one of Mother Flipper’s finest going to be whilst nursing a rum punch?  You get the picture.  But before jumping in to this series…

… Previously on Model Market:

Season 1

Season 2

Season 3

Season 4: And so, for the fourth successive time, a full set of Radicals, plus chums, descended on the Model Market and were pleased to be able to secure our favourite perch to enjoy an evening of street food and people watching. (You’ll understand of course if we don’t reveal where said perch is – nothing personal – except that it’s within easy striking distance of the main bar.  Obvs. ).  Thankfully the weather was kind, despite the dark clouds overhead, and indeed remained remarkably mild throughout the evening.  Aided by what seemed like more heaters than before and the familiar smokey warmth from the braziers.

One addition – we were perhaps a tad too excited to notice (though it gave us something to talk about) – was that of a roof over the street to the left as you look from the main bar (the one you enter the place on).  It also looked like the roof on the other side had been improved.  Which will be very useful when the weather does turn for the worse.  Enough on the roofs.

Raising the roof

There were also quite a few changes to the food outlets.  The much anticipated Namban – Japanese street food based in Brixton – was there.  And its Eringi mushrooms went down well.  Less popular was the new taco place (Tacos del Rey) which seemed to take an age to assemble and then underwhelmed when they were.  Worth a second visit though as it’s not impossible that having taken the spot of past favourite Yum Bun had something to do with the verdict.  The SE Cakery, which provided one Radical with a much envied, apparently very tasty, and resolutely un-shared, chocolate brownie, is now in place of what was the rather popular hot-dog shop.

Taco look at this lot

Back off the brownie!

As mentioned, stalwart Mother Flipper is still there as is Mama’s Jerk, whose jerk chips rather divided opinion, though were demolished in good order.  The Italian place (‘Cheeky Italian’?) has gone as has ‘Smokestak’, Rola Wala and no doubt some others we’ve forgotten.  There’s also a new Venezuelan place that was a big hit.  A new bar is due to open next week (in the shop opposite the main bar which seemed previously to be used for particularly, ehm, relaxed, people to sit in) and the main bar itself now offers Sierra beer which offers a very welcome alternative to the Frontier lager.

New bar? Oh well, suppose we better come back next week then…

Winyl is still there though no longer providing the music, with the DJ station having re-located to the main bar.  Despite the relocation the music doesn’t appear to have changed much, which prompted the other main topic of conversation of the evening (having calmed down about the roof and had a rather unexpected discussion about Winnie Mandela – don’t ask).

So, the problem with the music is that it consists of a series of tracks that contain familiar beats from popular songs (think Beat It, by Michael Jackson or some of the more bass-laden David Bowie tracks) but without actually breaking in to the up-tempo part of any of those tunes.  Which.  Is.  Very.  Frustrating.  And not at all conducive to people dancing, if that’s your thing.  A bit like having your songs on some sort of ‘first 30 seconds only’ shuffle so that you never get the opportunity to belt out the chorus.  It wasn’t always like this and indeed some of the Revolt’s first visits to Model Market were memorable for there being a great deal of dancing (which we observed in a dignified manner of course) but at the last few visits there has not, and in our view this is partly due to the music being played.

After another ale and having by now exhausted all sensible topics of conversation and resorted instead to sending people amusing whatsapp messages the Revolt finally left Model Market satisfied at having seen it open for a fourth year in a row.  Which is something worth reflecting on; what the people behind this place have done with a seemingly futureless site, and that it has been such a success for the past three years and still going strong, is really impressive.  It’s given the area something it lacked as well raising its profile across the city.  And, as our thoughts on the music no doubt reveal, it provides the Revolt with possibly the only ‘trendy’ venue that we attend with any regularity and, somehow, really like.

 

Tripping Over Ourselves

Your Radicals are leaving. No, not out of panic, in a hissy fit, or for good (sorry). We need to make this work and taking heed of advice that now is a period for calm reflection and taking the pulse of the nation… (don’t get political… Ed.) we’re off on a short trip to the North. Why on earth would you be interested in the movements of the Revolt? With Twitter we will never be far from local news and goings on and it would be as if we were in our living rooms, and I daresay you wouldn’t notice we were being intrepid had we not told you.

The Revolt has been irregularly reviewing local establishments since our inception and have decided it is quite good fun. What better then to combine a trip up to the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District with a bit of a culinary tour.

Those familiar with the 2010 Coogan/Brydon series ‘The Trip’ may see a parallel. This is absurd. The Revolt will tour only four of the six restaurants and in a different order. And our Michael Caine, Roger Moore, Richard Burton, et al. impressions are not as polished. We were inspired mind you, but when reviewing the route taken by Messers Coogan and Brydon and applying our well honed logistical skills (many a road trip has been planned before, and this one was done in the newly refurbished Red Lion on Shooters Hill Rd) we realised the route they chose was not the best way to do it. We are also pretty certain no-one else will have thought of doing this before, in the same way no-one will have shouted ‘I don’t believe it!’ when seeing Victor Meldrew actor Richard Wilson, or ‘You’re Fired!’ to Lord Sugar.

We’ll be packing the boot of the mini metro (be assured, it will be well packed) rather than a Range Rover and heading for the Inn at Whitewell in the Trough of Bowland first (admittedly this was the staging point for the other chaps too), staying at the rather fine sounding ‘Hark to Bounty’ in Slaidburn – cue Anthony Hopkins impressions from ‘Muting on the Bounty’ (god help us, Ed.).

From there the obvious way to go is on to Hipping Hall in the Yorkshire Dales for Sunday lunch, via a day trip on Saturday to Bolton Abbey (not, confusingly, anywhere near Bolton). Staying at The Pheasant just outside Kirkby Lonsdale.

Ambleside in the Lakes is next with lunch at Holbeck Ghyll on Monday. By this point your Radicals may be in a Roger Moore impression stand-off. A couple of nights at the Unicorn Inn.

The final stop will be Cartmel and L’Enclume, with a night at the Royal Oak Inn.

Routes have been planned in detail, packs prepared, tyres checked (kicked knowingly), and we’re almost ready for the off.

So, with apologies for the self-indulgence, you will no doubt see a few tweets and a write up of this trip.

Model Market Season 3 – we got it covered

IMG_1555It takes more than a bit of weather to deter your intrepid Radicals from keeping an engagement planned sometime in advance.  Especially when that engagement is now established as firm local favourite – the opening of Lewisham’s Model Market (see our reviews of the first and second season opening nights).  And so it was that we trudged to the Model Market for the start of its third season, with dark clouds over-head and new rivers forming alongside the Quaggy amongst the trenches and cones that now mark Lewisham.  Yes, it was bloody wet.

But that didn’t seem to deter people.  Like us, there were plenty of hardy hipsters who had made it out for the opening night and the weather only served to amplify the great atmosphere at the Model Market, as well as to provide a reminder of how much of the place is actually under-cover – including the High-Line Bar that opened last year and which provides great views on the rest of the market.  We managed to bag a banquette at the back and as each Radical and chum arrived it provided an effective base for forays to and from the bar and the extensive choice of food options.  In the end, the combination of the over-heard cover and gas heaters, and the permanently lit braziers, meant that it was all rather cosy – like urban camping.IMG_1562

And – finally 0n the weather, promise – the organisers, the excellent Street Feast (@StreetFeastLDN), had even provided umbrellas to keep the dampness at bay.  A nice touch.

So, what’s changed at the Model Market in season three?  A number of new food vendors to try, such as Club Mexicana (lovely looking burritos and the like), Hot Box (barbecue / smoked ribs) and SE Cookery (cookies and sweet things).  Plus familiar favourites such as Yum Bun, Rolla Wolla and Mother Flippers Burgers.  It was Mother Flippers that we looked to for our first round of grub and, to be honest, it was so filling that it pretty much finished us off.  Succulent, juicy beef burgers and equally appetising bean burgers (according to the two veggies in the group) with generous portions of fries.  Be warned, it’s not a pretty sight trying to eat the things, but well worth the mess.

Otherwise it’s very much as you were at the Model Market.  Winyl are once again providing the background music – which, if anything, was slightly more to our taste than last year.  The loos are, well, ‘real’.  The main bar is big, has at least one extra ale but otherwise is the same selection (of slightly pricey) beers, lagers and – very well received – cocktails.  First night nerves may explain the slightly erratic service behind the bar (some very friendly and efficient young bar staff plus some who seemed a bit overawed by the whole thing) but nothing to detract from the general vibe of the place, which is great.

If you’ve been before, and especially if you’ve never been, you really should take advantage of the Model Market over the course of the next 25 weekends that it is open.  The Revolt will be back and hopefully so will the fine weather.

 

 

Support local traders and check out the Lewisham Card

Sparkling service

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The firework display last weekend on Blackheath was, as always,  a great event.  The display itself was spectacular – and for us, all the better for the lack of accompanying music (I think we can all do without Coldplay at full blast, as per last year) – and the occasion was great for the village and surrounding area.  Indeed, the extra footfall caused by the fireworks provides an interesting perspective on the pubs and restaurants in the village and on their readiness to cater for such an increase in demand (80,000 people by all accounts).  Here are the Revolt’s reflections having covered a good number of establishments over the course of the afternoon/evening (and as mostly reported in Tweets at the time).

The Crown:  first port of call and a very good impression overall.  Even early doors the place was busy but service was efficient and friendly.  Extra bar staff and an outside bar helped a lot.  They moved pretty rapidly to plastic glasses, which is understandable, and as the evening progressed the Crown became as busy as we can ever remember it being.  Thankfully it was mild enough to stand outside.  Having left following a couple of pints we returned later (disappointed with subsequent visits – see below) and though now absolutely packed, the bar staff worked hard, and – importantly – in an organised manner, to ensure everyone was served.  Top marks.

IMG_1378The Princess of Wales: after a quick trek round the village taking advantage of the closed roads (which always feels slightly naughty/thrilling to do) we headed up to the Princess.  Like the Crown they’d sensibly put on an outside bar; and, like the Crown, it was, unsurprisingly, very busy (see picture, courtesy of the bar itself).   Your entripid Radicals entered and one dutifully took his turn to go to bar and secure some ales.  Not long after getting to through the crowds to the bar, that most wonderful of all questions was asked: ‘what can I get you’.  But, being sticklers for such matters, the response that came was ‘Thank you, but I think this lady was before me’.  So far, so good.  There then followed a long – very long – wait during which more people arrived and bar staff swapped positions and generally did their best to cope.  But what about our ales?  Eventually one member of staff asked the nearest person, who’d arrived a long time after your Radical, what they wanted.  When, politely as you might expect, the point was made that in fact that question should be directed elsewhere (i.e. to us) the response was an infuriating ‘oh, well I’m working down the line’.  We left straight away.  This really is an annoying feature of a lot of bars these days – the inability of bar staff to keep track of who is next, combined with some punters’ unwillingness to observe such niceties.  Now, you might say that on a busy night such things are inevitable and that really it isn’t the end of the world.  True.  But to be honest the service at the Princess has always suffered from style over substance, even when half as busy.  Poor show.

Hare and Billet: and so it was that we stomped across the Heath, glad of having taken our own advice earlier on Twitter to wear sturdy shoes given the dampness of the ground, and determined to get a pint at the Hare.  No such luck.  The large, mostly drink-less, crowd outside might have been a clue but it was only once we reached the door that the bouncer said it was ‘one in one out’.  What?  This is a pub not a night-club.  How can it be one in one out?  Sure it was very busy.  And no doubt there were safely concerns at play.  But still, a bit of a shock as you might imagine – especially as by this stage it was getting on for half an hour since our last drink .  Very odd.

Le Bouchon: following a return trip to the Crown and a swift pint stood on the road in front, we crossed said road to have a pre-fireworks glass at Le Bouchon.  Again, it was very very busy but as usual the service was impeccable and we secured both table and drink in next to no time (it helps, of course, knowing the menu by rote!).  Patron Jean-Philipe had sensibly hired in extra staff and the place was a buzz, with the sound of samba music streaming in from outside thanks to the excellent South London Samba.  We polished off a glass and headed happy to the display.  Tres bien. 

…there then followed the firework display, which was full of ooos and ahhhs and all very jolly.

The Dacre Arms: finally we hot-footed it through the village (at the head of the crowds leaving the Heath) and up the hill towards Lee and to Revolt favourite, the Dacre Arms.  Ah, the Dacre.  What a relief it was to make it here and to be greeted by its cosy interior, its real glasses and its lack of music.  Not to say that it was quiet – far from it, the Dacre was very busy and it was only our forward-planning and fast walking that meant we arrived before the firework crowds and bagged a table and a packet of scampi fries.  Needless to say that with this set-up we didn’t move till well past last orders.  Superb. 

So, what to make of all this?  Well, its great that the village and surrounding area was so busy.  A positive lesson to all, we’d argue, about welcoming events that attract outside crowds.  And, that with a bit of thought and hard work it’s perfectly possible to accommodate this additional demand and give a good impression in the process.  But, most of all, it’s prove if prove were needed that lessons in bar etiquette should compulsory.

 

 

 

Small Beer

This intrepid Radical deputised a couple of chaps (known to our dear readers from other beer related forays such as, er… beer festivals) and set off to deepest, darkest, Kentshire for the start of a micro pub crawl that would take us from Crayford to Eltham via Welling and Blackfen. The relatively new phenomenon sees entrepreneurial types (or just beer lovers) converting vacant shops in to small pubs. The focus is very much on good quality real ale sourced direct from breweries – no pubcos, no disappointingly generic selection of too cold, too fizzy, hipster ‘craft beer’.

Some may find the concept a little intimidating or a bit ‘old man’ – yes, most seem to have a no mobile phone policy, but that is mainly because the pubs are very small and as we all know from the Wants to Look Very Important Person Who Has To Talk Loudly On Their Mobile Phone On The Train, this can be irritating in confined spaces – but the owners and staff are very friendly and if you like ale or want to try good ale, fancy a quiet pint etc. these are good places to go.

Your Radical had time to ponder these issues as he looked out on the green fields on the short train journey IMG_0507from Lewisham to Crayford. The Penny Farthing, a short walk from the station was the first stop. We took a perch by the window and realised that by chance we had turned up during their beer festival so had a choice of 7 ales (along with a selection of wines and ciders). Table service is offered but as it was pretty busy we deployed the newly learnt skill of loitering by the beer board (not every micro pub has a bar!) and then settled down to three good pints (Peerless Red Pocks, Slaters Rye IPA, Cottage Starlight IPA). We then moved on to the Great Newsome, Moles, and Arundel Castle. The Slaters Rye topped the scores.

IMG_0508On to a bus (25mins) for Welling and The Door Hinge, which is situated near the football ground. As well as the front bar (pretty lively for mid-afternoon) there is a snug in the back with sofas and a fireplace. A smaller selection of ales – most tend to have four or five on the go – but we managed both Rockin Robins on offer (equal first), the Titanic, and Southwark. As with the other micro pubs The Door Hinge offers a window on the beer casks. A brewery tour recently initiated your Radical on the difference between cask and keg, and without being a bore… Cask is on the hand pump, keg is on the tap and is kept colder and more pressurized. What difference? the deputies (and I’m sure you) ask. Well, the short walk and bus journey to the Broken Drum in Blackfen enabled your Radical to go into beer bore mode. Quite a bit is the answer. The temperature and fizz makes a big difference. In short, the hipster friendly fruity American style pale ales are better suited to the tap which is why you will see the now ubiquitous Camden and Meantime Pales on the tap. Cold and fizzy provides a big but short flavour hit whereas warmer (12C rather than 8C if memory serves correctly) allows a more complex flavour to develop as you drink the pint. If you get an opportunity to try the same beer from both cask and keg you’ll see – pubs generally don’t as they’ll buy one beer for the pump and a different one for the tap but a brewery bar sometimes does.

IMG_0510IMG_0509The Broken Drum is only about 10mins from The Door Hinge by foot and bus. Open for only a couple of months we gather it was doing a decent trade. Unlike the other two it was less like a traditional pub inside, instead opting for simple white décor. Once again we found the Slaters, which bested the Madcat, Tonbridge, and Leeds beers on offer. You may have noticed that between three of us we were aiming to cover off most beers in each place so the bus journey from Blackfen to Eltham is a little hazy.

IMG_0512 IMG_0511Still, we made it to the end of the tour and The Long Pond in Eltham. As on a previous visit the sight of all the casks lined up is one to behold. The largest of the four, it has decent back room to compliment the front bar. And the bowls of pork scratchings are magnificent. At this point, suitably sozzled (on the Old Dairy, Kent and Goachers, followed by the Whitsable, Rockin Robin and Pond Life), we agreed that micro pubs are indeed A Good Thing. Size does matter as by being small they can fit in to small shop units rather than requiring a big building and so provide a bit of a boost to any local high street or parade of shops. They support smaller, and often fairly local breweries. They provide variety too. We noted that they are either in places not served by a pub or with pretty average places nearby. Finally, they provide a bit of character. Real character, not the bought in identikit and sticking on of a couple of keg beers and claiming to be a ‘craft ale’ pub ‘character’ (maybe we are turning in to grumpy old men as the other half of one of our group claims). The pubs are opened by people who enjoy real ale and that shows.  Hussar to that we say, hussar!