PipsDish – Covent Garden Restaurant Feels Like Home:
Of course that’s not entirely the case but, the tiny PipsDish in Essex Street does have a homegrown feel about it. I last went to PipsDish when it was a pop-up in a disused garage in Islington. Now, Philip Dundas has come of age with not just one but TWO permanent venues (there’s a ‘Kitchen Studio’ in Hoxton too – you can go to a supper club there or hire it for corporate events). Mind you, each is tiny – Covent Garden could perhaps squeeze in 30 covers including the self-contained ‘hut’ and I believe Hoxton is even smaller with just one central table and space for 10 to 12 diners.
I loved the original pop-up and have been meaning to visit one of the permanent venues. When Hoxton first opened, I was invited but for various reasons ended up not getting there. And, before a new date was planned I heard that a Covent Garden restaurant would be opening. It’s a lot more convenient and I am far more likely to visit again because I often meet friends in Covent Garden. So, we fixed a lunch review and popped along there.
PipsDish is not somewhere to go with an expectation of an a la carte menu. The concept is that there is a simple blackboard menu of starter, main and dessert, with a cheese option and with vegetarians catered for on request. The wine list is short…a choice of one of each – red wine, white wine or prosecco, there are carafes of water on the tables to help yourself and the general feeling is that you have walked into a good friend’s kitchen. While you wait, a little dish of complimentary olives appears – almost as if the host is apologising for not having food on the table already. Lunch is £12.95 for two hearty courses, cheese or dessert will add £6 or so to your bill.
I started with home-made mushroom soup. The board had red pepper and tomato soup chalked up, but arriving at 1.30 pm for a late lunch, that was already over and instead we were served a thick, creamy funghi stuffed soup with a crouton and some olive oil drizzled over. Very delicious and warming on a cold winter’s day.
Main for me was a chicken sausage with ham hock on a bed of smashed potatoes. I am pretty sure there was cabbage lurking in there too and the interesting brown ingredient on the top turned out to be slices of pickled shallot – a hearty plateful of winter food, full of flavour and miraculously looking quite posh!
The Hedonist was limited to the veggie option – a butternut squash paperadelle pasta dish which looked fabulous. I tasted a bit and thought it was great though the pasta was erring on the side of al dente.
Portion size was generous and there’s no way we needed dessert or cheese, although the poached pear on offer was quite tempting. It’s obvious that the food is well sourced and seasonal. The cooking style is unpretentious and the result is tasty wholesome food. We thoroughly enjoyed our lunch and I can see myself meeting friends there regularly for a relaxed meal. It is a bit like having a best friend who lives in Covent Garden who welcomes you round for food so long as you don’t mind making a contribution to the cost. And a best friend who can actually cook at that. It’s something different for that area of London – I hope it’s a great success.
15 Exeter St,
London WC2E 7DT