I am sure the name was intended to conjure up a back-to-basics attitude to locally grown and sourced produce, a nod perhaps to the allotments that pepper south-of-the-river London, but Plot’s a pretty good name for another reason, too.
This, after all, is a restaurant where the diner never really enters. Instead of a traditional, four-walled eatery, the seating area is a long, marble kitchen-bar counter, with a few trestle tables staked out on the side of the walkway that leads through this decades-old covered market. It’s more of a space, a plot, than a dining room. But all the better for observing the theatre of the food preparation, we say.
We don’t want to get into the gentrification debate – and are well aware that the stallholders at neighbouring Tooting Market are currently trying to battle the imminent threat of Crossrail 2 – but let’s just say that while you wouldn’t have found somewhere like Plot in this part of the city a few years ago, the move to bearded baristas and artisan pizzas feels slightly less all-pervading than what’s happened at nearby Brixton Market and Village.
The compact menu outlines a number of small plates and snacks, but these are decent-sized serves and there’s no skimping on flavours. Owners Mark Kimber and Harry Smith suggest you order two per person, so with a few of you at the table (or counter) you can get through the whole menu in a sitting.
First off, bread comes out with a tasty Bloody Mary butter, which is almost Willy Wonka in its ability to replicate the tomato juice-based hangover cure in dairy form, followed by sourdough toast that’s oozing with grilled Tunworth cheese, truffle honey and pickled mushroom.
It kind of puts us in mind of Salon in Brixton – as does the big kilner jar of cucumbers just pickling away happy on the back bar.
A daily special supplements the menu options – on our visit it was gin-cured Chalk Stream trout, with aforementioned pickled cucumber and treacle soda bread. So light. So fresh.
Shetland scallops with garden pea sees Trealy Farm chorizo offer a crumbly, spicy contrast to the delicately sweet shellfish.
Harissa goat ragu has a subtle heat – not spicy but a deep, satisfying warmth – and we loved the Middle Eastern influence here. It’s served on chunks of roast aubergine and a cooling cucumber yoghurt.
Peppered Norfolk Horn lamp rumb is cooked on skewers and is insanely tender. Served with a refreshing English garden salsa it rounds off a menu that confidently draws on influences from across Europe and Asia, but saying that, with the hustle and bustle of Broadway Market going on around you, it’s not likely you will lose your sense of place.
Sadly – and this only proves quite how unwell I was the evening we visited – we didn’t stick around for dessert. But both options looked great as they came out the kitchen – sweet basil panna cotta or a gooseberry Bakewell tart – so we are plotting to make a return visit soon.
Plot Kitchen: 70-72 Broadway Market, 29 Tooting High Street London SW17 0RL