At a glance Elliot’s fools you into thinking it’s just another café, but dig a little deeper and it’s anything but. With Borough Market literally on its doorstep, there’s an opportunity here that hasn’t gone to waste.
With the sheer reservoir of produce at their fingertips, the kitchen – led by a former Hibiscus chef – need only step outside to cherry-pick or replenish ingredients at will: a kitchen’s wet dream. How many cafés can boast beef tartare and ox tongue from the Ginger Pig butcher shop on their starters?
The inside is humble and bare-boned. Exposed brick walls and concrete floors we are used to by now, but there was none of the pretence that usually goes with them. It’s all pretty makeshift. There’s a large gunmetal-grey table for groups in the middle with the remaining tables organised around it. Shelves are lined with organic and biodynamic wines, chosen by Isabelle Legeron a.k.a. THAT CRAZY FRENCH WOMAN, who champions sustainability and wines with zero additives.
Wild rock oysters £2 each
The service though a little slow is far more well-versed in the menu than you’d expect: My waitress not only knew the name of both cheeses in my burger but even the age; where the bread came from, and so on. They’d be just as at home in a more high-brow environment, but that doesn’t mean they are wasted on Elliot’s which is serving up food of worth. Wild rock oysters had that glossy finish. Plated simply on a bed of seaweed with two slices of lemon, they did their talking in my mouth: cool, slippery, and utterly fresh.
Squid, cauliflower and curry butter £9
Fellow blogger @hollowlegs said to try the squid, so the squid I tried. It was a good call, arriving as tubular coils with the perfection of the pan-frying evident in the visual. It came on a gossamer of creamy, subtly flavoured cauliflower and curry butter that caresses your tongue on every bite.
Cheeseburger & fried potatoes £12.50
As I was saying, the burger – only available at lunchtime – was topped with two cheeses: Ogleshield cheddar and 12 month old Comté which formed a rich lubricating film over a coarsely chopped patty of Ginger Pig rib-eye caps, flank, shoulder and shin cuts. The seeded brioche does it justice and conferred a faint herbiness in the form of a dill butter that lined the insides. There wasn’t much in the way of texture – specifically the pickles were lacking their crunch. This is a softy but handling it in no way structurally compromises it – a failing of many a burger as meat and toppings slip out the rear. As far as they go, this is graceful.
Chocolate mousse, coffee ice cream & butterscotch £8
Dessert met the same standards: Two scoops of rich chocolate mousse, another two of coffee ice cream, thick butterscotch and crumbs of milk solids. Regretfully calorific, but it won’t stop you.
Elliot’s isn’t so much a café as it is a bistro. Understated in nature from the point of entry to what comes on a plate, it’s the kind of place that lives or dies on the basics being done well. There’s no bells and whistles. This isn’t somewhere you’d come if you want to be seen, but it is a place you can come to get away from exactly the kind of person that does.
food : 7.5/10
service : 7.5/10
ambience : 7/10
value : 8/10
12 Stoney Street, Borough Market London SE1 9AD
020 7403 7436