Turnips by Tomas Lidakevicius – An Idyllic Restaurant in Borough Market
It's in an idyllic spot, this one. A good 10 minute stretch of the legs from London Bridge, and through the famous Borough Market, Turnips is striking. Tucked behind the main grocery unit, the restaurant is situated right under the thrum of the trains above and in the heart of the market. The original family-run greengrocer has been a fixture of the market for over 30 years, but the birth of the restaurant arm was incepted from lockdown. Offering both a Tasting Menu and small plates, the fare has a central focus on the namesake humble vegetable.
Supplying groceries to an array of the finest restaurant establishments, including Le Gavroche and The Dorchester, Fred Foster of Turnips had always held the desire to open a restaurant. This dream became a reality, where chefs from their supplying restaurants came to help deliver food boxes to the needy during lockdown, and both Tomas Lidakevicius (previously executive Chef from City Social) and Fred crossed paths with the idea. With the shared belief that only great produce can deliver “truly unparalleled flavour”, the dynamic duo created the restaurant.
Hispi Cabbage, Coconut Curry
I visited the restaurant on a Wednesday for their lunch tasting menu. Charred hispi cabbage presented in a cylinder with a delicate crescent of coconut curry started us off. 2022 has been my year of mindfully eating less meat, and I have really enjoyed incorporating more vegetarian options into my diet. You'd think charring a piece of green wouldn't be the greatest test of a restaurant's skill but the dish was phenomenal; delicate, light, fragrant, and packed full of flavour. This was great.
Freshly baked bread with Black Garlic butter
I thought to make a special mention of the black garlic butter which came with the bread, which was essentially heaven in the mouth. It was so good that dipping the bread greedily in the pot and shovelling it in my mouth was not enough; I resorted to spooning the butter out of the pot raw with the spoon. No regrets.
Sarthe Celeriac Parmesan, Baeri Caviar
What followed was a marvel to look at; a perfectly plated celeriac woven into a circle dosed with caviar and lashings of parmesan crumb. The creamy bisque that was poured over was delightful. I've never eaten anything like it before, although I believe it's a relatively common bistro dish in certain parts of the world, and I swore after mopping up the last remnants of the sauce with the (excellent) house bread that this definitely wouldn't be my last. Heavenly.
Jerusalem Artichoke, Buckwheat, Te Mana Lamb
Lamb with Jerusalem artichoke and buckwheat was the only dish that wasn’t vegetarian on the lunch tasting. These two slices of juicy lamb were topped with a creamy jus (if 2022 wasn't the year of eating less meat, it may be the year of the lamb), dollops of dressing and a parsnip for good measure. Perfectly seasoned and bursting with earthy flavours, it was a combination I'd not seen before but worked brilliantly.
Yorkshire Rhubarb: Madagascar Vanilla, White Chocolate, Pistachio
We were having so much fun, giggling with joy as each new dish appeared before us, that after the mains were gone we couldn't let the evening end and ordered dessert. As if all that wasn't enough, the standout dish in an afternoon full of standout dishes – a concoction of Yorkshire rhubarb, vanilla, white chocolate and pistachio. Imagine an impossibly creamy but light casing filled with stunningly flavoured crumble, milk and hints of mint. Having spent four years living up in the rhubarb birthplace Yorkshire during University, I’ve become a bit of a rhubarb aficionado. And I can definitely say this dish hit the nail on the head.
Despite opening only last September, Turnips is already shaping up to be a much more mature and accomplished operation. My lunch experience was a joy from start to finish. Staff were friendly and professional, knowledgeable about the wines and enthusiastic about the food, and the atmospheric dining area we ate in – towards the back of the market with the open kitchen – is truly unique. I can't wait to go back, to work my way through the rest of the menu and dinner, have another fix of the lamb and artichoke and get slowly and naturally sozzled. It's a restaurant with everything going for it, and everything to recommend. Go now.
All images courtesy of Eva Piskadlo.
Turnips, 43, Borough Market, London SE1 9AH, United Kingdom, +44 20 7357 8356