Dar – Broadway Market

On these hot summer days cooking at home is even less appealing so, yet again,  we decided to head to Tooting and see what took our fancy.
We wandered through Broadway Market and, as usual, were impressed by the breadth of choice on offer. It’s an ever changing range of options to appeal to any taste.
As we turned the corner we came across Dar, a Mediterranean restaurant that we hadn’t seen before. The waitress was very persuasive and enthusiastic about the dishes on offer. This approach of luring diners in reminded us of being on holiday somewhere and, the heat being what it was, only added to the overall effect.
The unit is nicely decorated with bench seating around the side with blue cushions. This reminded us of Santorini. They run a happy hour between 6pm-7.30 so we ordered a glass of wine and a beer and ended up with 2 of each. A great start.

The menu included flatbreads and a range of dips, such a hummus to start. There were then 4 green or vegetable dishes, a range of meat dishes and then fish and seafood.
We chose to start with flatbread and tzatziki. We were advised that most people order a couple of dishes each to share so we went for burrata, saffron chicken and fennel stew, grilled prawn kebab and spicy merguez sausages.

The tzatziki arrived and looked lovely. It had been adorned with pistachio nuts and some edible flowers. Flavour-wise, it was fresh and like the tzatziki we’d eaten in Santorini last year. The flatbread was nicely toasted and we made short work of it.

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The main dishes started to arrive and all looked fantastic. The burrata was served drizzled with pomegranate balsamic and with pistachios and slices of burnt orange. The cheese was creamy and light and the accompaniments went really well with it.

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The grilled prawn kebab was served on a flatbread with garlic yoghurt and some smoky burnt aubergine. This really complimented the grilled flavour of the prawns and the yoghurt cut through the richness of that nicely.

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The spicy merguez sausages were tasty, with hints of spice, sitting on a tomato salsa salad with harissa, which gave it a subtle hint of heat.

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Finally, the saffron chicken and fennel stew arrived which smelt lovely. The two pieces of chicken were well cooked, and had a good amount of meat. It was nicely flavoured by the saffron and fennel.

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This was a really nice meal and whilst eating it, it was easy to forget we were actually sat in a market in Tooting rather than somewhere in the Mediterranean.

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Kova – Broadway Market

It’s hard to keep up with all the new eateries opening in Broadway Market these days, with what feels like a new one popping up each week. As space becomes a premium in Broadway market, new eateries are being located further inside, down passageways which have previously been closed in the evening. Kova is one of these eateries housed a bit further into the market, just past The Sea Garden. Its offer of a menu from the Basque region was enticing, and we were looking forward to trying it out.

We were warmly welcomed and chose somewhere to sit at the 3 long tables they had set up in the walkway. The menu has been devised by three Michelin starred chefs in Spain and, like the other places in the market, was short and focused. What was really clear, right from the start, was just how passionate the owner is about this venture and the food. The chefs too, seemed to be enjoying the opportunity to come up with new dishes and they had already added an additional dish and an additional dessert.

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To get us going we decided to order some bread with 3 different flavoured butters. This was all really nice and included a coriander butter, a paprika butter and a pepper butter.

Next we chose some pinxtos, selecting the roasted peppers and the mackerel. We then selected one of each of the small plates (we were writing a review after-all) and to wash it down we chose a glass of wine each.

The pinxtos arrived and both were served on toasted bread. The peppers were packed with flavour which was enhanced by the accompanying aubergine cream and pickled onions. The bread was a little over-toasted for my liking, which made it hard to cut, but that is just a personal preference.

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The cured mackerel was also served on toasted bread, along with avocado puree, cubes of pickled cucumber, and sliced olives. Again, the toasted bread made it a little difficult to cut neatly, with it breaking apart all too easily. The mackerel was a little over-powered by the avocado and olive, but the pickled cucumber added a nice bite of acidity and freshness to the dish.

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The first of the small plates to arrive was the Arroz Negro, which was cuttlefish ink rice. This was served with small spots of aioli around the side (it needed a bit more of this). This dish had a really good depth of flavour and a silky texture. There were also bits of cuttlefish in there which made it really enjoyable to eat.

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The other 2 small plates were served at the same time, and these were easily the best dishes of the meal. The Txuleta was made up of two pieces of grilled beef with padron peppers, spring onions, mushrooms, celeriac puree and a piquillo pepper sauce. The beef was tender and nicely cooked although perhaps it lacked a little in flavour, which was strange given it had been hung and dry aged for quite a period of time. The other items on the plate worked well and complimented the beef, but a bit more sauce would have been great.

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The cod was cooked perfectly, breaking up into flakes of meat when pulled with the fork. The crispy fish skin was lovely, as was the asparagus and the quail egg which added a touch of richness to the dish. There was only a small amount of potato puree which wasn’t a problem, but again a bit more of the Kova style pilpil sauce (a sauce from the Basque region, traditionally made with olive oil, garlic and chili) would have been great.

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Finally, one of us opted for a dessert and chose the manzana a la cidre. This was served in a glass and consisted of spheres of apple which had been marinated in cider, with a white chocolate cream, spots of mint and lime gel and, intriguingly, a celery foam. This went down really well, including the celery foam which actually quite refreshing.

It may not be a great photo, but it was a lovely desert.

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We enjoyed our meal at Kova, we’ve no doubt that they will be updating their menu regularly so we’ll be back again soon, and we think it’s definitely worth checking out if you fancy some tasty treats from the Basque Country.

Nazmins

Nazmins is on Garratt Lane, a stones throw from Earlsfield Station. It’s our nearest Indian restaurant and when we first moved here it quickly became our favourite. In recent years though the food has deteriorated, the restaurant was reduced in size, and they stopped having an alcohol license. All of this led us to look for a new favourite curry house, of which there are plenty in Tooting.

However, having not tried Nazmins for at least 2 years, we thought it would only be fair to give them another go and we are really pleased that we did. We had a table for 4 on Saturday evening at 7.30pm, and our initial impressions of the decor and ambience was good, it was warm and inviting.

We were seated at a table near the front and ordered some papadums and a pickle tray to munch on whilst we looked at the menu.

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The pickle tray included an onion salad, mango chutney and raita. All were lovely and came in a generous sized portion for us to share.

 

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Between us we ordered a mixed starter, onion bhajis and a king prawn butterfly. For our mains we went for a chicken dansak, a chicken tikka masala, a chicken dopiaza and a chicken madras (lots of chicken, we know!). We also chose a garlic naan bread, a peshwari naan, a mushroom rice and a pilau rice.

The starters arrived and looked and smelt delicious. The onion bhajis were a very generous size and came with a raita dip alongside them. They were cooked to perfection; nice and soft in the middle and crunchy on the outside with a good amount of flavour and seasoning. The mixed starter, with its chicken and lamb tikka, was also good.

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The prawn was interesting. I think we were expecting 2 or 3 prawns. Instead we were served one very impressively sized prawn that had been butterflied and then battered. It was nicely cooked and tasted great too.

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At this point , we were wondering why it had taken us so long to come back here so were keen to see how the mains fared.

We were not disappointed. The mains were all really tasty and it was pleasing to see that the ratio of meat/veg to sauce was very good. All in all, our chicken dishes were very tasty, and they were thoroughly enjoyed. The chicken dansak was a lovely combination of hot, sweet and sour and the chicken was moist and tender. It was absolutely delicious. The chicken dopiaza, with its tomatoes and onions and mild heat was lovely.

The dopiaza at the top of the pic, the dansak at the bottom.

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The chicken tikka masala was just as you’d expect; good colour, lovely flavour, and it went brilliantly with the very coconutty peshwari naan.

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Finally the madras, with its thick sauce and a lovely kick of heat to it, went down very nicely indeed.

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By the end of the meal we were all very happy with what we had eaten and were left wondering why we had taken so long to give Nazmins another try. Since our last visit the food has improved massively and we really enjoyed the atmosphere in the restaurant. Seeing as Nazmins is so close to us, we are really excited that they are back on form.

Rosa’s Thai Cafe

When Belpassi Bros closed in Tooting we were a little disappointed, so when we saw the signs promising that a new eatery was taking over the site, we were really pleased. Rosa’s Thai Cafe have numerous other branches across London including Brixton. Being reasonably new converts to Thai food we were really looking forward to seeing what was on offer.
We booked a table for 7pm and when we arrived, we could see that the layout has remained almost the same as when Belpassi Bros were here. There are several tables in the front area of the restaurant with a bar preparation area. Towards the back is the open kitchen and a larger communal or group table is behind that. The place has been given a lick of paint and it has a cosy and modern feel to it. We were seated at our table and left to explore the menu.

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We selected a range of starters to get us going which included, spring rolls, chicken wings, prawns and prawn crackers. To wash it down we chose a beer and a gin based cocktail.

The starters all arrived on really nice green crockery. The prawn crackers, with good flavour and a nice crunch, were accompanied by a satay dip which was a nice change from the sweet chilli sauce that everything else came with.

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The prawns were tasty, with a good crispy batter and were well cooked. The spring rolls were hot and not too greasy, with a decent amount of filling. The chicken wings were a let down though. They had a strange texture and lacked any meat on them. Whilst the little meat that was there came away from the bones easily, they didn’t really have any flavour which was disappointing. As we said, all of these came with a sweet chilli dip. We felt that some variation to this would have been good; perhaps a soy based one, for example.

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For our main courses we had decided on a pad Thai and a Rosa’s specialty butternut squash red curry with a portion of sticky rice to go alongside it. Again, the dishes were served on very nice crockery making them look appealing and they smelt good too.

The butternut curry had flavour and a nice amount of heat to it. However, it lacked any substance. The chunks of butternut were few and far between and slightly firmer than I would have liked. The sauce was tasty but it quickly became like eating a bowl of soup. This dish was priced at £10.50, without the rice, so it felt like a very expensive bowl of soup to be honest

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Sadly, the pad Thai was also lacking. Now I’m far from an expert on Thai food, in fact this is only the 2nd pad Thai that I’ve had, so I can only compare it to the other one which was at Kaosarn. This one lacked any real flavour and was quite bland in comparison. No sweet or sourness from the tamarind, I couldn’t taste any egg, even the crushed peanut lacked in flavour. Disappointing.

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Every time we’ve been past Rosa’s they seem to be busy, which is good to see. For us though, the meal didn’t quite hit the mark. We left with full tummies but an emptier wallet than we would have liked.

Daddy Bao

We have been eagerly awaiting the opening of Daddy Bao on Mitcham Road in Tooting for a few months so we felt pretty smug about being able to bag a table for their soft launch this weekend. The only time we’ve tried bao buns is at Tootopia earlier this year so we were really keen to find out what all the fuss was about.

We were greeted warmly at the door and instantly embraced by the warm and inviting atmosphere created by the décor and red lanterns hanging from the ceiling. We chose to sit at the bar area, which was next to the kitchen, on high stools. We were given an order pad which was a clever way of presenting the menu. Basically, we just had to decide which dishes we wanted and write how many we wanted in the boxes next to the descriptions.

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Everything sounded delicious so, after some deliberation, we opted for some snow peas, chicken poppers and sweet potato chips from the share section of the menu and a Mr Bao, Pork Belly bun, a beef brisket bao, and a drunken prawn bao. To drink we chose a gin xuan tonic and some sake.

We didn’t have to wait long for the food to start arriving and once it did, it came pretty much all together.  It’s going to be hard to find enough superlatives to describe the food so, just to be clear, we loved it.

The snow peas, although a simple idea, were served in a soy glaze with sliced ginger on top. They had been cooked perfectly and tasted really good. We hoovered them up.

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The sweet potato chips came with a wasabi mayonnaise and had been cooked in a light batter. Again, these were perfectly cooked and the mayo had a nice amount of heat to it which complimented the sweetness of the chips themselves.

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The chicken poppers were soft and sweet, having bags of flavour and provided just the perfect mouthful.

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Now, as mentioned before, the only time we’ve had bao buns before was at Tootopia and whilst they tasted good, the buns were good but perhaps a little cloying in their texture. Not so at Daddy Bao. The buns were like light pillows that didn’t stick around your teeth at all. The fillings in all of them had lots of flavour and a good mixture of textures with spring onions, red cabbage pickles, peanuts and pickled mooli.

Pork belly:

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Prawn on the left, and brisket on the right:

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We were hooked! So much so that we decided to go for it and order some more (we know this is greedy but we just couldn’t resist). So, we ordered a three cups chicken bao and a shiitake mushroom bao and some fried chicken.  Whilst we waited we also ordered a negroni. It tasted great but a couple of those would be pretty dangerous!

The fried chicken arrived and, like everything else we had eaten, it tasted fantastic. The chicken was lovely and tender, with the coating nice and crunchy, and the dip had a perfect amount of heat to it.

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The final 2 bao buns were also a triumph. The three cup chicken, which was slow braised and served with pickled red cabbage, spring onions, coriander, and a honey sauce was delicious; a real mix of flavours that worked well together, and the mushroom bao was equally fantastic.

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When our bill came it was just over £60, which we were more than happy to pay for all that food and drink. However, as it was a soft launch, they corrected the bill and took 50% off the food taking it down to just over £40! Considering the amount of food we had eaten, how good everything had tasted, the great service and drinks, we felt like we had had a real bargain.

All in all, we really hope that Daddy Bao is a huge success. We are already dreaming about our next visit and just hope that next time we head that way, we can get a table.

 

 

Plot

The last time we visited Plot was about a week after they opened, almost a year ago. At the time, we could see that there was real potential but they were still ironing out a few teething problems. Every time we have been to Broadway Market in the evening, we have seen how busy Plot can get so it seemed the perfect time for a revisit.

We had seats at the counter which is helpfully equipped with hooks to hang your bag on. The menu offers 8 dishes plus 2 dessert options. We’ve walked past a few times recently and looked at the menu and it seems to change quite frequently.

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We chose a glass of wine each and placed our order for the food whilst munching on a slice of lovely bread with a cardamom butter. Last time we came we had some delicious marmite butter and this one was just as good. To eat, we chose the leek and cheese tart and the haggis scotch egg to get us going, followed by the Wiltshire ricotta gnudi, and the roast cod.

The first dish served was the leek and cheese tart and this was served with mustard leaves. The filling was soft, light and mousse-like, and the pastry was thin and nicely short. It was packed full of flavour.

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Next up was the haggis scotch egg (only half shown in the pic below). This was served cut in half making it easy to see the perfectly runny yolk and the haggis meat surrounding it. It smelt great so we had already tucked in before we remembered to take a picture! This was full of meaty flavour and was served with a  celeriac slaw which cut through the richness of the egg perfectly.

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When we ordered the Wiltshire ricotta gnudi, we weren’t really sure what to expect. Gnudi are gnocchi like dumplings made with semolina instead of potato. This was a bowl of pillowy, cheesy goodness. They were served topped with pesto which provided a good contrast to the other rich and creamy flavours in the dish. The only thing I’d say here was that the temperature of the dish was inconsistent. The outside of the dish was hot but in the middle it became lukewarm. This didn’t detract from the flavour of the dish but did make me wonder what temperature is was supposed to be.

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The last dish was the roast cod served with chick peas and chorizo. The piece of cod was thick and cooked perfectly, flaking apart into lovely chunks of meat. The only thing we weren’t sure about were the chickpeas as an accompaniment. Unless they’ve been whizzed up into hummus, they tend to taste a bit like cardboard. Even though these had been cooked in a sauce which I think was tomato and chorizo based, they still had that flavour which didn’t really compliment the lovely piece of cod.

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When we sat down we were both hungry but, by the end, we were too full for dessert. That didn’t stop us getting food envy as the chocolate ganache was being served to those sat near us. It looked incredible and we still had good memories of the dessert here last time, which had been fantastic.

Just like last time, the service was also very friendly and we weren’t waiting long between dishes. All in all, the food at Plot is really nice. It looks good, smells good and tastes good, so we’ll be back again.

The Sea Garden & Grill

Having seen pictures of delicious looking cocktails and tasty food on Twitter and Instagram, we knew we had to try The Sea Garden and Grill in Broadway Market for ourselves. We booked seats at the counter so that we could get a good view of the kitchen and headed there on a Friday evening.

The unit looks fantastic. It is modern and the décor and lighting makes it easy to forget you are in a market. As well as the counter seats, they also had 4 longer tables with space for about 30 diners in total.

We were greeted warmly and shown the menu. The drinks menu included 4 cocktails, gins, wine and beer. We chose a cocktail each to start us off and this proved to be a great decision. Food wise, we were spoilt for choice as everything sounded so appealing.

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To get us started, we had some warm sourdough bread and olive oil, which was lovely. We then chose the special of scallops with a celeriac puree, a dish called Textures of Jerusalem, the crab risotto, and the battered fish along with some triple cooked chips.

The first thing to say if how beautifully everything was presented. The dishes looked, and tasted, like some we have eaten in Michelin starred restaurants.

The scallops, though small, we cooked with a lovely caramelisation and the celeriac puree complimented it well, providing just the right contrast between savoury and sweet.

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The textures of Jerusalem (artichoke) was another triumph. It came with pickled mushrooms and sweet potato crisps which meant it was a good selection of flavours and textures which all complimented each other to make a really good plate of food.

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The crab risotto was creamy and full of flavour, with the rice being perfectly al dente. I could have done with a little more crab meat on top, it was very tasty.

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Finally the fish and chips, which was sprinkled with malt vinegar powder. The chips were crispy and the vinegar powder kept them that way. The fish had a nice thick and crispy batter whilst the flesh of the fish itself was succulent and flaky.

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Every mouthful was delicious and we really enjoyed everything we tried. We had a glass of wine each with the food and the bill came to £63. This felt like really good value for money for food which was this good.

 

Sitting there, warmed by the newly installed heaters in the market roof, it was easy to forget it was a dreary, cold January evening outside and that we were sitting in a market. The food here was fantastic and we really can’t wait to visit again.