The concept of the Graze events - which will be (or have already been) held in a number of 'foodie' streets across London over the course of the two-week festival - is for diners to stop for one small dish (accompanied by a free glass of wine) in each of the participating restaurants.
Exmouth Market in the daytime
My boyfriend and I were fairly late in setting off on the trail: while the event kicked off at 6pm, we didn't make it out until 8.45. This was a shame as it meant we didn't quite manage to complete the 'circuit' (Caravan was closed by the time we finished our fourth dish at Moro), but to be honest, I think we would have struggled to eat another bite in any case!
I'll be coming back to try the Capricciosa pizza: the combination of ham, artichoke and egg sounds right up my street! They do takeaways too - a cheaper, tastier, and healthier alternative to Dominos for those nights when you can't face cooking.
The salt marsh lamb was amazing (I'm not usually a fan of lamb, but it was exceptionally good). The diminuitive cutlet - served atop a pile of delicious bean stew - was meaty, succulent and incredibly flavourful (causing us to severely regret our decision to share!). The bavette - a small-but-perfect hunk of rare steak, topped with a creamy dollop of fiery horseradish sauce - was also excellent, as was the accompanying pile of gravy-drenched chips (having spent my uni years up in the northern reaches of Durham, I am a BIG fan of the chips & gravy combo*)
After vowing to return to Medcalf in the near future - I hear they do a good Sunday roast - we crossed over to Bincho, where we were offered a tasting plate of different chicken skewers alongside two overflowing glasses of sake.
Fried chicken was delicious: the moist breast meat - encased in a beautiful coating of golden breadcrumbs - far exceeded my expectations of this dish( lowered by previous fast food experiences). The next skewer was home to a trio of chicken meatballs: incredibly light, these had a lovely ginger flavour and were coated in a glossy sauce. Next up was the chicken skin - consisting of tiny rolled up portions of deep-fried chicken skin, this was more appealing than the name would suggest. My boyfriend ate his with relish, but I couldn't face more than a taste of mine...a little too much grease for me! Chicken and spring onion is an old favourite (I ate my way through quite a a few of these skewers on our last visit!), and chicken thighs were also good.
It was already past 10 at this point, and we spent some time deliberating over our final destination. In the end, we chose Moro over Caravan - we've been to Caravan quite a few times for brunch, and the memory of the fantastic tapas at the recent Morito event, and the mouth-wateringly good wood-roasted seabass I had last time I ate at Moro, made us certain that their Graze offering was going to be something really special.
Even at this late hour on a Tuesday evening, every table was full (no wonder it's always so hard to get a reservation!). We were seated at the bar, where we paid £6 each for a glass of wine and a little clay pot filled with a gorgeous mixture of chanterelles, rice and prawns. The dish was fantastic: juicy, garlicky, and deeply savoury; it was replete with nutty chanterelle mushrooms and sweet prawns, and topped with a dollop of mayonnaise (a surprisingly perfect accompaniment to the flavourful rice stew).
As well as being a fun night out, the Graze events are the perfect opportunity to try some new places - I'll definitely do my best to attend one or two more (perhaps Charlotte Street, Brixton Village, or Soho) before the festival ends.
*preferably smothered in melted cheese, drenched in garlic mayo, and eaten from a takeaway box on the walk home...but Mecalf's version was probably a little more dignified!