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With a family run greengrocers to its name, this is a restaurant that puts seasonal produce centre stage, says Abigail Spooner
Set under the historic railway arches in the heart of bustling Borough Market in London.
Turnips has been a family-run greengrocers stall for more than three decades, but is now a thriving restaurant from Wednesday to Saturday too, with a focus on tasting menus. Working alongside many chefs during the pandemic sparked the change (Turnips was sending produce boxes to people in need), with Tomas Lidakevicius (previously executive chef of Jason Atherton’s City Social) appointed in 2020 as chef patron. Naturally, quality produce takes pride of place with market seasonality reflected in the regularly changing menu.
Nestled amongst sprawling crates of fruit and veg, with strings of industrial-style fairy lights and rumbling trains overhead, the space feels rustic and unpretentious despite the fine-dining style of food.
A sparkling glass of Chapel Down Brut kick-starts our evening in style, and we opt for the tasting menu experience with wine pairings. We generously spread freshly baked bread with a creamy mushroom butter, before three dainty canapés are presented to us. Flaky samosas filled with celeriac and melting mozzarella are the highlight, closely followed by a light-as-air cauliflower crisp with tiny shimeji mushrooms. Every mouthful is an explosion of flavour.
Continuing the winter roots theme, a spiral of rolled celeriac is topped with herring roe and a golden crumb, and sits in a luscious pool of Parmesan sauce. Galician octopus is the star of the show for our next course, dotted with a seaweed mayo and textures of radish. Different chefs bring out different courses and take the time to passionately describe each dish in detail to us. Meanwhile, the restaurant’s sommelier is a fount of knowledge as he pours us expertly paired glasses of red, white and rosé.
Next, chargrilled hispi cabbage truly showcases the wonder and versatility of veg. It is meaty, umami and bathed in a golden-hued coconut curry sauce that packs flavour by the spoonful. To follow, tender black leg chicken with sweet Cevenne onion purée and nutty spelt is brought together with a glossy red wine sauce enriched with baby capers.
A savoury dessert is certainly new to me, but it goes down a treat. Carrot ribbons, sharp Sicilian lemon and a quenelle of carrot sorbet is the perfect palate cleanser before our final dish, which can only be described as a work of art. Textures of tart, flamingo-pink rhubarb contrast with creamy white chocolate, Madagascan vanilla and pistachio to end our tasting menu on a high.
Exquisite flavours and presentation with quality produce and wine at its beating heart.
The humble hispi cabbage elevated to new heights.
Visit restaurant.turnipsboroughmarket.com for more information.