2 November 2020

Finding Comfort in Comfort Food at the Provisioners' Foodslut Residency

Things could be much worse, but I've had a tough few months, with work busier than ever — I work for a scientific journal so it's been non-stop COVID-19 research. And unfortunately, all of the six holidays that I had booked this year happened to fall during times when London and its UK were under more restrictive COVID-19 measures. My last hope of getting a proper break was the two weeks I had booked in November, initially to go to Thailand, then I thought I might manage Italy, before eventually booking  a last-minute trip to Athens, with a family trip to Devon as a back-up. My 'plan C' was to use my annual leave to visit lots of coffee shops and restaurants in London — I really feel for everyone working in the hospitality industry at the moment, and want to continue to show my support. And then, of course, the 'not-a-lockdown' second lockdown put paid even to that.

But coffee shops and eateries are still open for a few more days, so I decided to escalate my plan C and try to visit a few before the new restrictions come in on 5 November. First up was brunch at the Provisioners restaurant, inside the Dixon Hotel, just up the road from me near tower Bridge. I've been to the hotel for breakfast and cocktails a few times, and had been meaning to return to try Jack Whitehall's Foodslut residency at Provisioners. As it turned out, yesterday was its final day and as I was also greatly in need of comfort food, I booked myself in for a final brunch.

The main entrance to the hotel is on Tooley Street, near Tower Bridge Road, and it's well worth walking through the beautiful reception of the building, which once housed the Tower Bridge Magistrates Court. But the most direct route to Provisioners is via the entrance on Queen Elizabeth Street, on the north side of the block. I love this neighbourhood and often walk and run through the nearby streets on my way to and from the river. It's close to Tower Bridge and Shad Thames, but a little less frenetic.


After sanitising my hands and registering my contact details, I snapped a shot of the Jack Whitehall-inspired pumpkin and was shown to a table by the window. The interiors throughout the hotel are gorgeous, with gorgeous mismatched monochrome marble tabletops, leather booths and art deco details. There was an option to add bottomless Prosecco to the brunch menu, and a nice selection of cocktails, but I stuck to a pomegranate and elderflower mocktail while I pondered the food options.


I knew I wanted to order the 'slutty burger' but was trying to decide whether I would have room for both a starter and a dessert as well. When I found out that the burger didn't come with chips, I decided to go for all three courses. Who knew when I would next have the opportunity for a lazy Sunday brunch, after all? To start, I ordered the chicken parmo croquettes — a moreish trio of deep-friend shredded chicken and three cheeses, served with garlic mayo.

Then it was time for the main event: the slutty burger. Without chips on the plate, I could fully appreciate its immensity: two dry-aged beef patties, with brown butter sauce, bacon jam, bread and butter pickles and crispy onions. I wasn't asked how I'd like the burger cooked and it was a little more well-done than I usually order, but the beef was still juicy and flavoursome.

My comfort food requirements had already been met at this point, even without chips, but no matter how full I am, if there's a chocolate and peanut butter pudding on the menu, I'll almost always find room. I was glad I did because the peanut butter cheesecake was the star of the show. More spherical than angular, and with a softer, creamier consistency than traditional cheesecakes, it was served with caramel praline and chocolate sauce, arranged in a spiderweb design; it was All Hallows' Day, after all. You can find the recipe on the Foodslut website.

The pop-up has now come to an end, but Provisioners is open all day for coffee, food and drinks for the next few days — and hopefully again once the London restrictions ease. It's a beautiful space, with friendly staff and a lovely relaxed atmosphere. The cocktails at the Dixon's Courtoom Bar, most of which pay homage to the building's former function, are are great too.

Provisioners Cafe. 4 Queen Elizabeth Street, London, SE1 2LL (Tube: London Bridge or Bermondsey). Website. TwitterInstagram.


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