Once upon a time, French-born Margaux came to London to study wine, met Joe Sharratt, Head Chef at Trinity in Clapham, they got married and started up a restaurant where they could combine their passions. What better way to start a new business venture, than with a love story?
But that’s just one of the many reasons I love Naughty Piglets. There’s also its location away from the crowds on Brixton Water Lane, the to-die-for wine, their status as an independent and fairly priced restaurant nobly offering seasonal produce and natural wine, and of course the fact it’s called Naughty Piglets. Right up there at the top of that list is the food.
The interior is what you’d expect from somewhere like this – simple and no fuss, yet stylish and elegant. Décor follows a more personal take on the tried and tested combination of chalkboard paint, enamelware and Edison light bulbs and there’s a long galley-style bar with views into the kitchen at the rear. Its small size means it’s cosy and with just 30 seats, booking in advance is a good idea.
The wine sold here is all ‘natural’, meaning there are no chemicals involved in its making and in most cases is created with hand-picked grapes. As you’d expect from a restaurant with a wine expert at its helm, both the white and the red I sampled (guzzled) were divine. I took recommendations based on the food ordered, which I would encourage you to also do unless you know your Pouilly-Fumé from your Grüner Veltliner. Wine is Margaux’s passion and she’s pleased to give anyone a hand.
The menu changes regularly and familiar items come and go, but it sticks to the general format of a few snacks, four medium sized dishes and four more substantial ones. All are reasonably priced. We were advised to order five to six plates between two but you could get away with the more traditional set-up of starters followed by mains if you preferred. You can keep up to date with latest menus via their Instagram account, @naughtypiglets.
Following some delicious bread and butter, we nibbled on our first snack-sized courses of padron peppers – deeply roasted and generously salted – and ham croquettes which were crunchy on the outside and gooey on the inside.
We then moved onto the burrata which comes served with chunky wedges of roasted fennel and pistachio cream. This is such a great combination, mixing the creaminess of the cheese with the earthy pistachio and the lighter freshness of the fennel.
Then it got meaty. The boudin noir (that’s black pudding to you or I) was probably the softest and crumbliest I’ve ever tasted, with not a hit of dryness which is so often disappointingly present. It came topped with zingy, salty capers as well as cuttlefish, cut into such fine and silky ribbons that the texture suggested noodles.
My personal favourite dish of the night was a generous slab of BBQ pork belly, topped with shredded greens. Served on the side was a well matched and insanely rich miso paste, packing a punch from just the tiniest dot. The whole plate was peppered with sesame seeds, giving it a lovely nuttiness and taming that miso.
Sad that it was coming to a close, we faced our final dish. A hunk of tender beef, lacquered in a deeply rich and reduced gravy packed full of flavour, came supporting a topper of earthy East-Asian shimeji mushrooms. A side of smooth celeriac lifted the dish whilst the parsnip chips on top added crunch.
Naughty Piglets will turn one this March and I feel I’ve missed out having only just been there. This is without doubt some of the best food and wine I’ve eaten in Brixton and I’m already excited to plan my next visit. It just goes to prove that a little love really can go a long way.