We were not sure what to expect, to be perfectly honest, when we accepted an invite to dine at Great Guns Social, a former local boozer on a corner of Southwark Bridge road, somewhere in between the mighty foodie mecca of Borough Market and the gastronomic tundra of Elephant & Castle.
We knew the venue from’before’, that is before music and media company Great Guns took over and refurbished it completely, and we had not really done our research on the evening’s pop up restaurant called fodder.
Yet, as soon as we walked in, the vibe was already different from the days of yore, when it was a fairly anonymous local pub: we found ourselves in a clean, spacious interior with modern decor and plenty of rock and roll photos on the walls, a bar glittering with spirits of unusual and artisan brands, and recognised a few names from the London food scene, such as eco chef Tom Hunt and chocolate connoisseur Jennifer Earle.
Fodder is a pop up restaurant, brainchild of two former Fera chefs (Michael Thompson and Ollie Downey) along with co-founders Jenny Novitzky and Louise Stapley.
They seek inspiration from the seasons and environment around them, foraging ingredients and experimenting with produce.
At the heart of fodder’s ethos is a desire to work closely with suppliers and collaborators, showcasing a community of local producers and craftspeople from ceramicists to mushroom growers.
They like to think of it as ‘fine dining gone wild’ and it’s a pretty spot on definition. The finger food we sampled was indeed pretty mad, but incredibly satisfying.A large pork croquette was clad in crunchy, puffy pork skin bits, and was very good;’pork and squeak’ was a cube of breadcrumbed pork meat (from a lesser cut) served with a lightly sweet apple sauce. The best of these however was a jerusalem artichoke’crisp’ with goats curd and spiced pear, beautifully textured morsel of intense flavour and contrast.
The first of the mains took us by surprise. A small, charcoal black pie filled with the most delicious pork and smoked eel, served with a creamy, buttery mash (Ã¢â‚¬Ëœfilthy’ with 50% butter); the crust of the pie was a touch sweet and had great bite; probably our favourite dish of the night.
The discovery continued with the two vegetarian mains; a celeriac cream served with a leek dressing and a confit yolk was a luscious, wintry dish which was finished off by oyster mushrooms which – we discovered in amazement – are grown on used coffee grounds in nearby Elephant & Castle (seriously).
A bowl of seasonal Jersey Royal followed, tiny and soft, clouded in rich, deep chicken fat broth and accompanied by the softest, gooiest’dumplings’ made with no flour, but with a strangely named Japanese roots, which had an emerald green sheen to them, and a pungent aroma of wild garlic, foraged within London boundaries of course.
We ended the meal with a chocolate mousse served with a nettle sorbet and doused in sancho pepper, a fairly adventurous and odd but deeply satisfying dessert, yet another discovery of seemingly mismatched ingredients, married with delightful results.
During the evening we got a chance to talk to the fodder team, friendly and passionate about what they do, and rightly so: the food we tasted clearly required a lot of skills and set to high standards, but the settings make the whole experience easygoing and relaxed.
Maria Elia, the chef who curates Great Guns Social’s residencies, was present and stopped to chat to everyone too.
While Great Guns Social is definitely a welcome addition to the neighbourhood, the fodder residency is a not to be missed opportunity to try some truly special food. It starts 20 March and lasts for three months.