“These sausage rolls are almost as good as your Mum’s” says the excited voice down the phone, you must blog about this place it’s amazing. I’ve left them one of your cards. “This place” was Rosalind’s Kitchen and the enthusiastic call was from Mr. Coincidentally, I had just discovered Rosalind’s Kitchen a few days before, although I’m sad to say it’s been open for a year and I’ve been working around the corner for two. Rosalind’s is take-away only, and whilst Little Portland Street isn’t a main pedestrian route, it runs parallel with Upper Regent Street and Great Titchfield Street and both of those streets are off Oxford Street so it’s incredibly easy to find.
One of my colleagues from the newsroom, Alice B drew me to it after she told me about ‘Milk Tea and Pearl’ which is next door (see separate blog). And sure enough not only has she good a good nose for news, she’s got excellent taste buds because Rosalind’s food is really delicious. Not the cheapest compared with the slew of high street chains we have on offer, but you really do get what you pay for and it’s a welcome alternative. All their meat is from Sheepdrove Organic Farm, fish from Southbank, they use Yeo Valley organic milk, Coombe Farm cheese and they get their olive oil and chorizo from Brindisa. The flour used in their sublime all-butter pastry is milled at Shipton and their coffee is made by Has Bean, using ‘original’ beans.
I don’t think I have tasted a better savoury tart (sautéed mushroom, caramelised onion & herb) or sausage roll in a very long time but then that’s all to do with how fresh the product is. Made in the kitchens of the Cookery School, which Rosalind Rathouse also runs, (and by the way is her full-time love and passion), the food is literally walked across the road to the shop. Mixed slaws, and a variety of salads from chunky potato and herb, winter tabbouleh, roasted vegetables, mixed rice, green lentil and mushroom and what has become my favourite the market, are just some of the salads on display each day. There’s also a soup of the day, which changes each day.
Breakfast service includes home-made granola, Bircher muesli, homemade fruit compote and spiced buns. The morning I had yoghurt the compote was pear, apples and quince without a single grain of sugar in it, naturally sweet. A generous helping of granola contained cranberry, pumpkin seeds and fig and a great start to any wintry day.
Another great thing about Rosalind’s is that she offers samples of all the food on the menu each day. No, liggers, it’s not an excuse to come in and fill up, purchase nothing, and then leave. It’s a perfect opportunity to try-before-you-buy and to be honest once you taste a couple of things you’ll want them all. From spiced buns, delicious cupcakes (our office favourite is the Passion Fruit), Spanish tortilla, Pollock fishcakes, and fat fish fingers on Friday, making Captain Bird’s Eye’s look positively anorexic. There’s also a loyalty scheme on the go but I always forget to get my card stamped. If you do remember it,
Rosalind has been championing sustainability for years, well before “celebrity chefs” made it trendy to mention the ‘S’ word. It’s always been part of the Cookery School’s ethos before the likes of the Sustainable Restaurant Association and Sustainable Fish City were born, although she’s a member of both. All the fish used is sustainably sourced, they focus on saving energy, have reduced their water consumption, and as the Christmas season rapidly approaches, be rest assured they’re steaming their puddings under the turkey – keeping the bird moist and saving on fuel. They’re also meticulous about recycling. All deliveries are made in metal or glass containers, and use recycled foil. If there’s food left over at Rosalind’s the local offices luck out so she’s also doing her bit for the love food, hate waste campaign. And, their kitchen food waste is composted and none of it ends up in landfill. She even hosts an annual fundraiser for Action Against Hunger and throughout the year donates to local London and national charities.
So what of this Cookery School? Well Rosalind is also the brains behind that and she’s totally obsessed with food. She’s worked as a professional cook, run her own cookery business and taught cookery to both adults and children for years. In her kitchens she grapples with the fears of the least confident cook by teaching in plain simple language. She runs individual or group classes and there are courses in seasonal vegetables, fish, rare breed meat, how to cook with leftovers and cooking for the pot. Ingredient laden benches for a corporate cookery class were being laid out when I arrive and Rosalind also offers evening classes that start at 19:00. What a perfect end to the day, leaving for home with a new skill and a freshly baked loaf, cake or pie and by the way a brilliant gift for the hard-to-buy-for.
Oh, and once last thing. If you’ve not had time to make your own Christmas cake, Rosalind’s selling a weighty 1.4kg cake for £25.00. It’s made with all-organic ingredients including ground almonds, fruit, eggs, Shipton Mill flour, sugar and brandy. Not for the under-age or tee-totallers in your life she’s been soaking glacé cherries in alcohol for the past few months. And, if it’s anything like the cupcakes, I’m only sorry I’ve made mine.
Rosalind’s Kitchen, 12 Little Portland Street, W1W 8BJ
Open Monday to Friday 0730 to 1600.