- The Dish: Bubble and squeak, slow-roasted pork belly, cajun bean stew, green chilli salsa verde, crackling
- The Place: Bubble& Café Bar, 161 High St, Amersham HP7 0DH
- The Chef: Rupert Smith
What? For those that didn’t grow up with this traditional British bite, bubble and squeak is a dish made with leftover vegetables from a roast dinner. It usually consists of potato, cabbage and other greens, which are then mashed and fried together until its brown on all sides. The dish earned its name as the cabbage made a bubbling and squeaking sound during the cooking process. Traditionally, it’s been served as part of a cooked English breakfast, either on Boxing Day or on a Monday morning after the classic Sunday roast. Hardcore fans may insist on veg like Brussels sprouts, because it’s what they got as children, but when it comes down to it, the dish can be thrown together with whatever hasn’t been devoured – a win for food waste indeed.
Husband and wife team Rupert Smith and Marita Lietz have taken on this dish with their concept Bubble&. Smith spotted a gap in the market while working at a gastropub as head chef; bubble and squeak was a big seller, but was traditionally known as a leftover dish. He believed it could be as versatile as pizza and pasta, and proceeded to give up his job and open a food stall. Smith and Lietz launched their concept in 2013 and in 2014 won two Great Taste Awards. Last year, however, was their big break: they won My Million Pound Menu, where they were offered a development deal by chef Atul Kochhar.
Now that deal is finally coming to fruition with the new Bubble& Café Bar. Its menu will include traditional fare like bubble and squeak with a soft poached free-range egg, smoked streaky bacon and hollandaise sauce, as well as more adventurous eats like its bubble and squeak with roast butternut squash, halloumi, coconut curry sauce, fried onions, spiced cashew nuts, lime pickle and fresh coriander.
There’s also a surf and turf version with pan-fried salmon fillet, béarnaise sauce, caramelised chorizo and cucumber pickle, as well as veggie option made with a poached free-range egg, goat’s cheese, hollandaise sauce, spinach and fennel pesto, Cajun carrot chutney and toasted cashew nuts.
You can even grab-and-go with a sweet potato bubble and squeak in a 10-inch tortilla with baby gem and harissa yoghurt.
Where? The Bubble& Café Bar will open at Kochhar’s Hawkyns on February 25. While the Amersham restaurant, which has two AA Rosettes, will continue offering pan-Indian cuisine, the Bubble& team will takeover the bar, with dishes starting at £5 per plate.
Kochhar went to see Bubble& in action at their pop-up restaurant in Manchester as part of My Million Pound Menu and then confirmed he would invest in their venture following their winning performance.
“It’s really fantastic to see Rupert and Marita in the kitchen, they are incredibly passionate about the food they create, and they’ve developed a fantastic concept that really works – a modern version of bubble and squeak,” Kochhar commented.
Why? Number-one reason has to be the nostalgia factor, which people like innovator Jonny Bingham and Co-op’s Breige Donaghy tipped to have an increasing influence on food last year. Bubble and squeak tugs on the heart strings, evoking those happy childhood memories for Brits that grew up eating the dish.
Bubble& has also elevated this fry-up to offer it in popular formats like grab-and-go, along with veggie versions and influences from international cuisines, moving it away from just traditional fare to appeal to a broader audience – including those who might not be so familiar with it.
Plus, it’s a fun way to eat your veg and the ultimate dish in kitchen recycling.