I’ve got a real soft spot for St Werburghs and there’s something almost smug about going to a pop-up (“yeah, I’m so on trend!”), so I was delighted to visit the highly commended Cafe Mulino.
We walked through the incredible Eco village with open mouths. Developers wanted to use the wasteland for another faceless estate but the community got together about five years ago to create these amazing, self built, ecological houses that are architecturally fascinating. It’s hard to describe, unique doesn’t cover it. We arrived at the community space on the edge of the Eco village where Cafe Mulino resides on a Friday evening.
Above and beyond but not over the top
We were greeted by Clarrie and were shown to our basic but nicely dressed table. She told us how Cafe Mulino was born. It’s the brainchild of the Harveys (Clarrie and her brothers Ben and Joe) who have impressive experience from local eateries and a flair for food and hospitality. That family feeling really came through in everything. I felt warm and fuzzy inside and you could sense the local community spirit and passion that had gone into it.
The restaurant was in the good books before we even got there because it’s BYO and there’s no corkage charge, but the offer to keep it cold and open and pour it for us (and most importantly, keep us topped up) was above and beyond. The service all night was exceptional; personable, attentive but not over the top.
The kitchen was in view, which I love, the chefs were hard at work and there was some soft, eclectic music in the background.
We had some bread and olives brought over almost as soon as we sat down, it’s always nice to get a little extra treat at the beginning like that, and it wasn’t long until they brought over the very professional looking starter. They change the menu every week but we had a salad of braised ham hock, mozzarella, blood orange, fennel and black olives. What an absolute explosion of flavours! I was a bit apprehensive when I read it but it really worked. If I was going to be a grumpy knickers I would say the bread could have done with some butter but that is being seriously picky.
The fact that they ‘go French’ and we kept the cutlery from the starter just added to my relaxed state. Then, oh my goodness, a surprise pallet cleanser that blew my mind. I freakin’ loved it! It was apple, ginger and lemon sorbet and it was thoroughly delicious.
The main came out and didn’t disappoint. There was a veggie option but we went for porcini stuffed ballotine of free-range chicken wrapped in lardo, served with cannellini bean puree, asparagus and sweet herb butter. Don’t ask me what ballotine or lardo is but it was goood!
But, in my opinion, they saved the massive party in my mouth until last! They brought out the Campari and raspberry jelly with mascarpone ice cream, a biscotti, fennel seed and hazelnut crumb….mmm hazelnut crumb. I have got a special second stomach for pudding but I really could have eaten that again, twice over! It was divine!
Go there! As soon as you can! It’s crazy that this is just set up in a community centre on a Friday night. If you’re looking for top quality, local, seasonal, posh nosh but in such a relaxed environment, this ones for you. I really enjoyed having the decision of what to order taken out of my hands too, it keeps it simple and there was nothing I didn’t like. Yummers!