Tupi had done so well at their first eater in Peckham they decided to open up a second branch in the new Elephant Park where the clientele would be slightly different from the hipster crowd of SE15. To my amazement, at the Elephant I found I was socialising with a real porn star from the days when fetishes were catered for in Soho bookshops rather than online and your magazines came from under the counter and not off the top shelf, writes Michael Holland.
This was Tupi’s Exclusive Taster Night where the mixologists could show off their cocktail shaking skills and the kitchen amaze us with a hotshot menu. Its huge window walls look out over the container shanty town on the other side of a no man’s land of pavement. I was with Doreen from the Co-op sipping on a Queen of Bahia, where from our vantage point we watched beautiful young things exit the station and make their way across the square to their new flats in one of the new tower blocks surrounded by tower cranes building even more tower blocks. The cocktail made with cacacha, passion fruit and mint was a lively opener that prepped the palate for a succession of appetisers soon to be landing at regular intervals. First a bowl of olives came, then Halloumi and Guava Jam, Truffled Polenta and Mushroom, Crispy Squid, Crispy Chicken and Black Mayo, while betwixt these delicacies such joyous cocktails like Castle Romance, Latin Lover and Slippery When Wet graced our table. The squid and chicken plates were probably the best, and the chef has done a good job of making polenta palatable – No easy task.
Doreen was rather taken with the squid and black mayo, plus the wonderful array of cocktails that were finished off as quick as they came. As she became more loquacious the conversation moved from squid recipes to West Ham’s resurgence as a mid-table team. Again, no easy task.
It was now time to order a main course. Our server talked me into the Short Ribs: tender beef in a lime and black bean sauce. Very nice they were too. Doreen, went for the Black Risotto with prawns, squid and clams – the rice darkened with cuttlefish ink. Black isn’t the best colour for a plate of food, and it wasn’t long before Doreen’s lips, tongue and face were smeared with a substance usually squirted at predators in the dark depths of the ocean. This worsened when she peeled her juicy prawns, the ink was now covering her fingers and thumbs. ‘You look like you’ve just done a shift down a coal mine,’ said I.
‘I’ll never get this ink out from under my nails,’ she cried before confusing the customers on the next table by adding, ‘I need another Castle Romance!’
After a good 15 minutes’ clean-up operation in the toilet, Doreen was back to her old self and ready to share a Flourless Chocolate Cake. While we waited she finished off another Latin Lover and slurred the immortal words, ‘I used to be a porn star.’ She then regaled me with escapades of being Linda from Liverpool while hanging washing out topless; posing awkwardly on an armchair as Carol from Colchester, and several other tales that brought back sweet boyhood memories of Readers’ Wives. ‘We actually shot them all in a house in Clapton,’ said the lady who I will now struggle to think of as Doreen from the Co-op ever again.
The ‘flourless’ cake was quite dry and actually tasted like it had lots of uncooked flour in it. However, the accompanying ice cream sorted that out.
Tupi is a hybrid Brazilian and European restaurant where the staff are eager to please. And they needed their smiles because having so many people in at the same time for this opening event meant the kitchen struggled to keep up at times, but the guests were kept happy with a conveyor belt of cocktails.
Their menu is designed for modern trends with plenty of vegetarian options – all with the latest ‘Superfood’ included somewhere in each one – and should just about please any customer. Ultimately I think this branch of the Peckham success story will work well in its new surroundings.
This was a tasting event, so the bill is not reflective of what you would normally order, but a guideline to prices.
Tupi, 2 Castle Square, Elephant Rd, London SE17 1EN
0207 703 7701 – www.tupilondon.com
Mon – Fri: 8am – 10pm; Weekends: 9am – 10pm
Queen of Bahia x 2 17.00
Castle Romance x 2 17.00
Latin Lover x 2 17.00
Slippery When Wet x 2 17.00
Truffled Polenta 7.00
Crispy Squid 7.00
Crispy Chicken 7.00
Short Ribs 14.00
Black Risotto 13.00
Red Wine x 2 10.00
Chocolate Cake 4.50
Main Photo: Michael Holland