Date Night at Naughty Piglets

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Now, I’ve been back and forth on whether to share this little hideout of mine with you. A colleague whispered the recommendation across the office to me about a year ago, after spinning his head around to check if anyone was listening. It was as if he was sharing some sort of dirty little secret. When stepping out of Naughty Piglets after my first visit, I got it. This is one of those incredible hidden gems that you just want to keep all to yourself. But, I’ve decided, it’s just too good to stay hidden…

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Naughty Piglets was set up by the most delightful couple: Joe and Margaux Sherratt. Margaux came to London to study wine and met her future husband Joe whilst they both worked at Trinity in Clapham, where Joe was head chef.  Yes, they are your ultimate power couple.

You’ve probably spotting a trend here – anyone who works at Trinity goes on to open an incredible restaurant. If you haven’t already seen it, check out my review of Restaurant Story opened by Tom Sellers, who also put in a stint at Trinity in his early days.

Anyway, back to Naughty Piglets. Let me show you around this teensy tiny restaurant.

There’s an open kitchen – which I absolutely love – and you can eat at the bar.

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Perched under the hanging shelves stuffed with cookery books, you’re right in the action. You can watch as the chefs bustle around assembling plate after plate of delicious French-inspired food.

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The whole place is effortlessly cool – panelled with horizontal wooden slats and lit with dangling filament light bulbs.

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A giant blackboard setting out the weekly-changing menu…

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And it just gets better and better – you can actually book in advance. Yes, you heard right. No waiting for hours in queues with a rumbling stomach here. But with only room for 30 diners at a time, weekend slots gets booked weeks in advance. There are a handful of high tables in the front section of the restaurant and then a very small number of standard tables in the back dining room.

As always, we were met with smiles from everyone and shown to our lovely table.

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Somehow, even with the minimal vibe, they manage to nail that perfect romantic setting. Flattering candlelight, fresh flowers on the table and a relaxed atmosphere. All the ingredients for a perfect date.

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The wine list is hefty but the beaming Margaux is only too happy to help you navigate the various natural wines on offer. I kicked off with – yes you’ve guessed it – some bubbles. To be specific, the aperitif of the week, a sparkling Chenin Blanc.

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Now, the best bit. What’s on the menu this week? Although the menu changes weekly, we were relieved to discover on our second visit, that they always have their signature dishes. Once you sample one of their ham croquettes, you’ll know what I mean.

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According to their website this husband and wife team serve up simple and tasty food but in my opinion, there is nothing simple about these dishes. They are all exceptional. I’m the food nut in our house but – and I quote – Mr Kelly even says that this food excites him.

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It’s a tapas-style, try a bit of everything place, which is my favourite kind of restaurant. We tried to order the entire menu but Margaux reigned us in and we settled on six, which turned out to be the perfect amount.

Nothing else to do but sit back and relax…

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The most delicious fresh French bread appears with real French butter. In one mouthful you’re transported across the Channel and into bread heaven. Here we go again – heading straight for the bread trap…

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The first to arrive are the life-changingly-good ham croquettes. These are literally the things my dreams are made.

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Two little mouthfuls of perfection…

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Ever so lightly fried so that they’re crispy on the outside but soft and pillowy in the middle, with that amazing meaty flavour.

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Sheer bliss…

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Then it was on to the red stuff. You can see how well my January health-kick is going. Although, in my defence, it is only a  carafe and not a bottle!

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Next up was another one of my favourites from their signature dishes. Grilled pear, Jerusalem artichokes, hazelnuts and blue cheese…

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Followed by Devon crab, pickled cabbage and peanut, with a zingy lime dressing.

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I would never have dreamt of putting crab on a bed of fancy peanut butter, but wow!

Then for the show-stopper. Before trying this dish, I had never tried beef tartare. The idea of raw beef gave me the creeps. But Mr Kelly persuaded me on our second visit to Naughty Piglets to try this…

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Raw beef fillet with a coffee mayonnaise, topped with crispy fried onions, spring greens and sorrel. Now if, I mean when, you go to Naughty Piglets, please don’t leave without trying this. It’s way too good to miss.

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Especially when washed down with that delicious red…

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Then it was time for scallops with XO sauce, yuzu and cauliflower purée, topped with pork crackling…

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And finally – another winner of a signature dish – BBQ pork belly, sesame and korean spices. I normally stay clear of pork belly. Usually I think it’s just like eating mushy fat whilst searching for the odd strand of meat, but that is most certainly not the case with this dish. As with everything else, it’s perfect. And, trust me, you’ll want to eat that fermented chilli paste by the bucket-load.

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Finally, it was on to dessert.

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After the usual, “we really shouldn’t but, sod it you only live once” conversation, we ordered the crème caramel to share. Half a pudding is basically no pudding, isn’t it?

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Oh and we didn’t want to risk missing out on the full experience so we threw in a glass of dessert wine. Margaux’s recommendation to go with our pud: the 2014 Côteaux du Layon.

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Which was an amazing, syrupy, nectar…

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Perfectly matched with this beauty!

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I don’t care what Kate Moss says, there are actually some things that do taste better than skinny feels…

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And this was one of them!

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We left, pleasantly stuffed, promising to be back soon. As always, we were very grateful for that ten minute walk to the tube!

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And super-exciting news: this power couple are gracing the London food scene with a sister restaurant in Victoria called The Other Naughty Piglet. It opens its doors on the 13th February and it’s 50% off food for the opening week. Of course, we’ve already booked our table so make sure you book yours before you’re too late. Find all of the details here.

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London-based foodie with a shopping addiction, a love for swanky interiors and an obsession with white sandy beaches.

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