I don’t venture south of the river much. Which is a shame, as there are some amazing foodie destinations to be found if you’re willing to make the short train ride to Clapham Junction. Which I most definitely am. Last Thursday, I was invited along to a press evening at Social Pantry in Battersea, where we were treated to a fantastic three course dinner sampling some of their best dishes.
So, what IS Social Pantry? As well as the lovely, homely cafe itself, the company offers bespoke catering for events, weddings and corporate contracts. It all started with absolute #girlboss and company founder Alex Head, who I had the pleasure of sitting next to for our dinner. Her entreprenurial story is really inspiring – at 15, she started a sandwich business from the back of her bicycle. She’s also a really lovely person, fantastic to chat to, and was definitely amused by my beetroot fear. Which seems to be coming up quite a lot recently…
Social Pantry are led by their values – using fresh, seasonal and locally sourced ingredients from environmentally sustainable sources. And their community spirit is fantastic – they use suppliers such as Bad Boys Bakery, which is run from Brixton prison to help inmates develop their skills and experience for life after prison. And the team also regularly help feed the homeless at soup kitchens. Basically, the Social Pantry gang are most definitely Good People.
Oh, and their food? TOTALLY delicious.
We were greeted by the Salt PR and Social Pantry teams with a glass of fizz, some ridiculously good canapes and the chance to have a chat with some of the other attendees – a group of some of London’s best foodie blogger types (and lil’ old me, somehow). I also got to have a catchup with Frankie, who I haven’t seen in AGES, and met some lovely new folk and had some great chats.
The table was set and ready, and I loved the flowers and cute place settings. Seriously, having a name card on the table made me feel like I’d ARRIVED in the blogging world. After sitting down to eat and OMG-ing at the fabulous GOLD cutlery (where do I get my own please?), we were poured glasses of War Horse Chenin Blanc. I’m not the most knowledgable about wine but I loved this one – really easy to drink, and *insert some complimentary wine-talk here*. Basically, in non-wine-buff Milly terms? It was awesome.
In case y’all didn’t know, I grew up in a little seaside town called Cromer. As well as having a quite nice church and a pier that was in Alpha Papa and lots of elderly people, Cromer is also a bit famous for its crab trade. Which has given me a love-hate relationship with the stuff. I really do like the taste when it’s done well, but making 300 crab sandwiches in a day during a summer working at a local cafe? Kinda takes the fun out of it.
Thankfully, Social Pantry’s crab dish was up to this seasider’s standards. Served on crispy charcoal sourdough with thyme, chilli and lemon creme fraiche, it was flavoursome and moreish.
For our main, we were served up 12 Hour Slow Roasted Ox Cheek with Celeriac Mash. The meat was incredible – tender and tasty, falling apart beautifully as I slid in my knife and fork. You could definitely tell that plenty of time had been spent on the dish, cooking it to perfection. The Grilled Tenderstem Broccoli, Feta and Pine Nuts on the side were a perfect addition too – I LOVE feta cheese, and it worked so well with the broccoli and nuts.
The first thing I thought when the dessert came out was that the little flower on top looks REALLY like a monkey. As I’d had plenty of Chenin Blanc by this point, it actually gave me the giggles. The second thing I thought, when I slid my golden spoon into the Orange Blossom and Vanilla Panacotta was that it was AMAZING. Smooth, tangy and a good portion size, it provided the perfect end to an evening of fabulous food and great chat! As an extra, special bonus, Social Pantry kindly gave us some breakfast bags to take away for the next morning – tucking into their avocado and toast pot was the best kinda start to a pretty full-on Friday. Thanks so much guys!
Social Pantry’s dishes are very clearly created with a lot of heart, soul and a great knowledge of food. Although Battersea is a bit of a trek for me, if you’re in the area it’s really, really worth a visit. A wonderful little place with great, fresh, seasonal food and a conscience and great story behind it. What’s not to love?!