DOCKLANDS SOUTH EAST LONDON

Mudchute Farm and Kitchen

April 6, 2010

Mudchute Farm

[Edit: Mudchute Kitchen has changed hands since this post and apparently this is not a good thing. I haven’t been recently and so I can no longer recommend it. Please see comment from Hana below].

I think I was  more excited than my mates’ 4 year old daughter at the prospect of visiting Mudchute Farm. Promises of llamas, goats and ‘giant rabbits’ drew me in almost as much as whispers I’d heard about the decent kitchen. Mudchute is London’s largest inner city farm, apparently. 32 acres sit slap bang in the middle of the Isle of Dogs; sheep graze to the backdrop of towering skyscrapers in Canary Wharf. It’s a striking juxtaposition and it’s also extremely quiet; if it weren’t for the concrete and glass peeking through trees and over hills, you’d be forgiven for thinking you were out in the sticks.

What at first looked like it might be an exercise in familiarity with different types of mud, soon brightened up into a peaceful day of ambling around the farm pausing occasionally to watch chickens either fighting or mating, stroke billy goats’ beards or laugh hysterically at a woman taking llama spit to the face at point blank range. Apparently the smell is quite overpowering.

There’s nothing like the combination of a mild hangover, a couple of hours walking and the responsibility of entertaining a small child to work up an appetite and we raced towards the Mudchute Kitchen with a mixture of ravenous zeal and nagging concern that it would be the usual tourist-trap café, defined by the attitude that people have nowhere else to go so they can jolly well be grateful for a lump of dry, over-priced cake. Thankfully, it wasn’t.

The menu was short and dominated by hearty, no-fuss dishes. Both the boys chose pot-roast beef with mash, sharp red cabbage and wilted spinach (about £8 I think), which arrived in a monstrous portion and looked like it had been dished up by my mates’ daughter but tasted fantastic. An outrageously tender, juniper scented hunk weaved with strands of melty fat. The boys almost beat their chests with manly excitement.

My ‘Mexican eggs’ (£6-ish) was served by the same generous hand. Properly soaked and cooked black beans came poured over 2 gooey fried eggs on a piece of home made bread. A lengthy cooking had bubbled away any risk of a bland, watery result, leaving rich, meaty beans. A parsley flecked yoghurt brought sharp contrast.

The real stars of the show though, were the cakes. My pistachio and lemon was dense, squidgy and speckled green with nut chippings. Lemon perfumed butter-cream icing was spread to just the right thickness to deliver ultimate satisfaction. The boys’ cookie and chocolate and hazelnut options seemed to be going down well at the one point I came up for air.

There are definitely things that could be improved at The Mudchute Kitchen – the mash for example had the odd lump and the bread under my eggs would be much more enjoyable toasted. The presentation of the food is carefree to say the least and the service a little scatty. These things were all forgiven however because the food is so tasty. Most of the ingredients come from the farm and the freshness shines through. Let’s also not forget that the portions are huge.

The best way of describing the food would be as ‘good home cooking’; a bit like going round to your keen cook mates’ house for dinner. There are no frills, no pretension and it’s not trying to be anything it shouldn’t. After a couple of hours walking on a crisp spring day you just want a damn good feed, and Mudchute Kitchen is there to give it to you.

Mudchute Park and Farm (and Kitchen)
Pier Street
Isle of Dogs
London
E14 3HP
Tel: 020 7515 5901 (Park and Farm)
Tel: 020 7515 5901 (Kitchen)

www.mudchute.org
www.mudchutekitchen.org

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26 Comments

  • Reply Jonathan April 7, 2010 at 9:24 am

    Never mind the animals and cakes. Did I spy a clay oven lurking in the edge of one of your pictures?

  • Reply gastrogeek April 7, 2010 at 9:27 am

    Those eggs look gorgeous, were they fresh from the onsite chickens?

  • Helen
    Reply Helen April 7, 2010 at 9:30 am

    Jonathan – Yes! Here’s a picture I took just for you http://www.flickr.com/photos/foodstories/4492903721/in/set-72157623774296428/

    Not a patch on Cassius, of course. We did have a look inside but nothing going on, sadly. I think the jars of ‘wood roasted’ peppers must have been cooked in there though and I really, really hope they do pizzas in the summer.

    gastrogeek – Ooh I don’t know! I should have asked that *slaps wrist* – the chickens were spectacular too – all head dresses and feathery feet.

  • Reply Sarah, Maison Cupcake April 7, 2010 at 9:33 am

    Thank you thank you for a brilliant suggestion where I can take my 2 year old during the Easter holidays. It looks so much better than my local city farm in Leyton which has a miserable “Snack Baaa” that I have never to this day seen selling any snacks.

  • Reply Knit Nurse April 7, 2010 at 10:01 am

    A great place that I visited last weekend for the first time in about 20 years of living in Lewisham! (yes I know, what a shocking oversight!) My coffee and cardamom cake topped with buttercream and fresh pomegranate was fabulous.

  • Reply Lizzie April 7, 2010 at 10:52 am

    I had never heard of this place – it sounds like loads of fun. Llamas, despite fluffy appearances, can be MEAN. The dishes look heartily good too.

  • Reply Gourmet Chick April 7, 2010 at 11:24 am

    That first photo is hilarious with the sheep and skyscrapers. Love the sound of the lemon and pistachio cake – just bought a massive bag of pistachios in beirut so might have to attempt that one.

  • Reply Leila April 7, 2010 at 1:16 pm

    Thanks for a great post — no shame in being more excited than a 4 year old! I’m going to go soon 🙂

  • Reply Jonathan April 7, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    That’s a pretty sweet oven. I hope you’re sitting down. But Cassius collapsed just after Christmas. It’s very sad news. But Cowie is hopefully going to build a new one.

  • Reply Margaret April 7, 2010 at 2:53 pm

    it all sounds lovely!

  • Reply heather April 7, 2010 at 2:55 pm

    an inner farm — what a concept! why can’t the u.s. get behind something like that? if london weren’t such an expensive travel destination, i’d be there in a jiffy.

    cheers,

    *heather*

  • Reply tasteofbeirut April 7, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Great place! need to ask my Londoner-cousin Andrew about it! I will bookmark it for my next visit! Thanks

  • Reply Tv Food and Drink April 10, 2010 at 8:00 am

    Gorgeous pics. The skyline reminds me a bit of Seattle just outside of the Farmer’s Market viewing up from the entrance to the Seattle Aquarium. Your pics are always so enticing. Thanks!

  • Reply Jenn AKA The Leftover Queen April 10, 2010 at 3:03 pm

    This is totally my kind of field trip Helen! Great pictures, and the food looks so good too!

  • Helen
    Reply Helen April 12, 2010 at 3:26 pm

    Sarah – I honestly can’t believe they called it ‘snack baa’

    Knit Nurse – That is the other cake I wanted. I such a hard time deciding between that and the pistachio. Hard life innit?

    Lizzie – Llamas – watch out, that’s all I can say. MEAN indeed. Spitty and mean and smelly but oh so hilarious to look at.

    Gourmet Chick – It’s a great idea for a cake flavouring to be sure. I look forward to seeing it on GC very soon!

    Leila – There would have been no stopping me even if there was.

    Jonathan – Luckily I was sitting down at the time of reading that sad, sad news. I can’t believe it! He served you well and shall be remembered in all his flamy glory. Will you be naming the new oven after him? RIP Cassius.

    Margaret – Yes! It was a superb day, if a little muddy.

    Heather – I dunno! Maybe they do?

    tasteofbeirut – Yeah I bet it’s much better in the summer too…

    TV Food and Drink – Thank you!

    Jenn – It makes such a refreshing change for one of these places to actually make something edible. I was chuffed to say the least.

  • Reply Dangerous Variable April 13, 2010 at 10:18 am

    I was there on Saturday and was impressed with the food. I had Mexican Eggs and wifey had the Roast Pork Belly which had an awesome crackling. Good value for money I would say. Would definitely go there again!

  • Helen
    Reply Helen April 13, 2010 at 10:25 am

    Dangerous Variable – It’s good isn’t it? Not fussy but just tasty fodder. Glad to hear they do a good crackling too. Thanks for your comment.

  • Reply Pauline July 24, 2010 at 11:15 pm

    We very nearly stayed near Mudchute last weekend when visiting London but in the end because of the scheduled tube disruptions and an early morning start in central London we decided to stay in the centre. But another time I would love to visit – loved the photo with the sheep and Canary Wharf in the background.

  • Reply Hana August 17, 2010 at 8:10 pm

    Beware – mudchute kicthen has changed hands – and that is not a good thing.

    Food and service were poor today. I loved the previous incarnation. boo hoo, hope they get their act together.

  • Helen
    Reply Helen August 30, 2010 at 12:15 pm

    Thanks Hana, I’ve left a message at the top of the post. This is so sad as it was such a good place.

  • Reply Chris September 19, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    When I last visited, the cake was covered with flies and wasps. the counter was dirty, the tables were dirty and the floor filthy. I appreciate it is a farm but the standard of hygiene is appalling. We have complained before about the toilets etc., but nothing seems to be done about it. I shall not be eating there again.

  • Helen
    Reply Helen September 19, 2010 at 2:50 pm

    Hi Chris, is that just since it changed hands or before as well?

  • Reply Chris September 19, 2010 at 4:10 pm

    The most recent incident was June 2010. If it has changed hands since then, we would gladly give it a try!

  • Helen
    Reply Helen September 19, 2010 at 4:52 pm

    Well I went in April and it was great, as obviously I said in the post but then Hana commented above saying it has changed hands. If you went in June though this is not good news! Perhaps I was just lucky?

  • Reply partytent huren helmond August 21, 2014 at 12:44 pm

    Couldn’t be written any better. Reading this post reminds me of my old room mate! He always kept talking about this. I will forward this article to him. Pretty sure he will have a good read. Thanks for sharing!

    • Helen
      Reply Helen August 21, 2014 at 3:24 pm

      Excellent, I hope he enjoys it.

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