Chalk Farm Road
Made in Camden, the new bar and restaurant attached to the Roundhouse is one of those places you mentally bank as a place to re-visit. It's location at the front of the Roundhouse, will no doubt draw in a decent chunk of the pre and post-show crowd, but its accomplished menu and laid back atmosphere is likely to bolster this new restaurant's reputation all the more.
When we arrived, the Julius Caesar crowd had flocked into the theatre for 3 hours of Shakespearean verse and prose, wrapping its way around weighty issues of conflict, political powerplay and manipulation. We were left meanwhile, to study Made in Camden's A4 menu which thankfully offered up no emotional trickery, but a little conflict when it came to choosing something from the small plates selection.
Head Chef Josh Katz (who grew up in the area) leads the team in the kitchen. Previously from Ottolenghi, his menu calls on a Mediterranean style of cooking, with a mix of tapas-style smaller dishes, and a handful of large plates for bigger appetites. Large plates range from heartier dishes such as braised venison with mash & poached quince (£14), and sweet & sour brisket (£13) to the delicious likes of beetroot risotto with mascarpone and chives (£11), and sweet, spiced chickpeas, flaked almonds and feta (£12).
We opted for the smaller plates, in a bid to get as much variety into our bellies as possible. Highlights included the poached pear, edamame, caramalised pecans and goats cheese salad, with all of the ingredients working moreishly together to create a mouthwatering dish. Another plate that was particularly good (and perfect for warming you up from a wet, rainy night outside), was the spiced calamari. Served up with peanuts, coriander and tomato chilli jam it slapped our taste buds with a hint of fire and seduced them with just the right amount of sweetness. A great dish which went beautifully with the bottle of crisp, crisp Viognier we had started on (£21.50). (The bar incidentally, is the only local stockist of all of Camden Town Brewery’s beers, whilst Bibendum close by supplies the wines). We also tucked into tasty little plates of grilled onglet with smashed parsnips and horseradish cream (£7.50) and some satisfying crab cakes accompanied by a dollop of lime mayonnaise (£7).
Dessert was an equally great-tasting affair, with the peanut parfait (pictured) and the chocolate moelleux grabbing our attention. The parfait looked like a work of art on its serving slab, complete with chocolate mousse and salted butter caramel sitting underneath a deft sprinkling of sweet nuttiness. But it was the chocolate moelleux that stole the show as it was set down on our table. Not for aesthetics (although it looked suitably indulgent), but more for the crackling sound emanating from the cherry mousse. A crackling which turned out to be space dust. You might remember as a kid, the sheer brilliance of space dust. Whilst other penny sweet varieties offered a sherbert tang, or a challenging chewiness, space dust won hands down for the sensory explosion of crackling sugar that set off the minute it landed in your mouth. If you were also one of those kids that used to give space dust to cats for fun, you might recollect that combined reaction of surprise and mild feline outrage a cat sports, as the treat they thought might be tuna, starts spitting like a firecracker on their tongue. Whether my dining partner had partaken in such childish diversions back in the day, I don't know, but he excitedly exclaimed "space dust!" in between mouthfuls of chocolate and cherry like a big, happy kid.
So yes, you can make Made in Camden part of your trip to the Roundhouse for drinks, dinner or even coffee and cake, but your stomach wouldn't grumble if you just set foot inside to enjoy the full menu, fill your belly and tell all your friends that for your next birthday, you'd like some space dust. Cat optional.
**“J is for January” at Made in Camden **
If you have a first name or surname beginning with the letter J, visit Made in Camden any day during January 2011 for a complimentary half-pint of Camden Town Brewery Beer with every meal. The offer extends to all those eating on the table. (Brewed by expert beer master Jasper Cuppaidge, these beers have been created a mile away from Made in Camden, using the freshest ingredients to produce brilliant lagers, wheat beer, and pale ale).
(Made in Camden is managed by the Roundhouse. All profits will support The Roundhouse Trust which, as a charity, helps over 3,000 young people every year realise their creative potential. The Roundhouse also delivers creative projects for 11-25s, including radio, music production, drama, circus, poetry, TV, sound engineering, photography, VJ skills and much more).
**Reviewed by:** Helenka Bednar