Jimmy’s Secret Garden is the latest culinary venture from Jimmy’s Secret Pop-ups. Straight opposite Clapham North tube station is the Clapham North Pub, an unassuming bar – spread out and plainly decorated. At first glance, I believed this to be where the pop-up was to be held and was utterly disheartened. Luckily, a very obliging barlady directed me to a heavy wooden door round the back of the restaurant with the words “Jimmy’s Secret Pop-up” emblazoned on the wall – that was my first clue.
The interior of Jimmy’s is truly delightful. There are leaves on every wall, fairy lights tucked into every nook and cranny, birdcages hanging from the ceiling, and candles burning on each available windowsill not already overgrown with ivy leaves. I felt like I had stepped back in time into one of my favorite childhood novels. There was even an ornate tree stationed in the center of the room looming spectacularly over the dining room.
The theme of the pop-up is simple – a quintessential English picnic. Although the main menu on offer was tempting, each and every customer I observed chose the deluxe picnic for two, at £25 a head. As my guest was late for the evening, I thought that ordering it would make me seem like even more of a charity case to the loved up couples that infested the tables around me.
But, alas, luck struck again and my dining partner showed up just before I was about to order. The look of triumph on my face was succeeded almost by a roar of victory as I smugly stood up to welcome him in front of the amorous couples on the tables next to me. “Take that,” I thought, “I too can order the picnic and wallow in romance!”
The décor of the restaurant coupled with its clear popularity among couples made Jimmy’s Secret Garden appear a low-cost, infinitely more enjoyable Clos Maggiore. For those of you who have not been (and I would not recommend it), Clos Maggiore is a famed restaurant in Covent Garden, said to be the most romantic restaurant in London. What these people don’t tell you, of course, is that the romantic flower and garden setting in the conservatory is booked up weeks in advance, so you’ll most likely be shoved onto one of the claustrophobic tables by the front door to be charged ridiculous prices for a rack of lamb and a dribble of the house wine.
For those who are strapped for cash but would like to treat a loved one to a romantic evening without the Clos Maggiore price tag, whisk them away to Jimmy’s this instant. The romance in the air is infectious – even I couldn’t stay mad at my guest for long; I only sulked in silence for a mere twenty minutes after his arrival.
The picnic for two is reasonably-priced and (adorably) presented on a miniature picnic table. For £25 each, diners are treated to: smoked salmon scotch eggs; pork and apple slider burgers; pork and apricot sausage rolls; crispy calamari; foie gras parfait with onion confit on toasted brioche; last but not least, chunky slabs of Chateaubriand.
If you’re thinking that there’s enough food on that menu to feed a buffalo then you are indeed correct. If, however, the only complaint I have about Jimmy’s pop-up is that I couldn’t force one more slider burger into my mouth after I’d demolished the rest of the food, then I’d say that’s an accomplishment. The textures of the picnic melded perfectly together and there was a variety of flavors to complement each other very well. The Chateaubriand was cooked pink and seasoned to perfection, the smoked salmon scotch eggs contained a tangy lemon zest that tickled the tongue, and the pork and apricot sausage rolls were an indulgent addition to the traditional picnic feast. I use the word “traditional” sparingly, however. The most exotic my quintessential picnics got as a child was an extra slice of tomato on my mother’s cling film-wrapped ham sandwiches.
I’m sorry to say that the sheer volume of the feast rendered me incapable of sampling the puddings – but diners who have the build of a buffalo are very welcome to try a dessert hamper, ice cream, or the innocuously named Jimmy’s Edible Garden… I’ll leave the many puns in my readers’ capable hands.
In short, if you’re one of those cool and chic people who likes to keep up-to-date with the best pop-ups in the city, drop everything and head to Jimmy’s right now. If, however, you are a mere mortal, simply not trendy enough to visit every one of London’s innumerable pop-ups, let alone one, then I would advise you to choose Jimmy’s to take your pop-up virginity. It is reasonably-priced, immaculately-decorated, and provides great tasting food for the summer. So go on, pop that picnic blanket away and give Green Park a miss this Saturday – Jimmy’s has you covered.