Month: March 2017

The Little Taperia

We like tapas and have been to The Little Taperia in Tooting a couple of times since it opened. So, finding ourselves at a loose end on a Saturday night and with nothing inspiring in the fridge we booked ourselves a table for an early dinner.

The restaurant is small and cosy, and when it first opened it was walk-ins only and whilst the food is worth queueing for, being impatient, quite often we didn’t. The fact that you can now book a table means that we get to eat there more often, which is great. Even though we had an early booking at 18.30, it was reasonably busy when we arrived. The décor creates a warm and inviting atmosphere. For the first time, we were seated in the area at the back, which is where the kitchen is. This suited us perfectly as it was a bit quieter and a little cooler. We were immediately offered water for the table and then left to peruse the menus.

The bar menu comprises of a range of cocktails, wines and beer. From the decent choice of wine on the menu, we chose 1 glass of Lopez de Haro Crianza Rioja. It was also pleasing to see a G&T on the menu that featured our favourite gin, locally distilled Graveney Gin. So that was me sorted.

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Now, the trouble with tapas is, it can be tricky to order just the right amount of food. This is made even trickier when everything on the menu sounds so appetising.

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We opted for a few staple favourites: potatas bravas, padron peppers, gambas al ajilo and grilled chorizo, and then added scotch eggs, albondigas (meatballs) and the special which was lamb cutlets.  We have found that no 2 tapas restaurants are the same and they each have their own twist on these dishes. Here, potatas bravas is served with an aioli dip as well as (we think) a paprika dip, with more paprika sprinkled over the top (it’s not too much, honest!). The potatoes were crispy and well-cooked and I loved the 2 dips. The padron peppers are fried and served simply with rock salt, they are incredibly moreish.

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The grilled chorizo sausage is served on a slice of toasted sourdough with a pesto spread and piquilo pepper. It makes for a lovely combination of flavours.

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The scotch eggs are a bit of a speciality here and they are always perfectly cooked, runny in the middle with a rich surrounding meaty layer and crisp coating.

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The gambas were served still sizzling in their dish and were plump and well-seasoned with slices of garlic and chilli.

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We haven’t tried the albondigas before but with a juicy chunky tomato base, they were really good.

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Finally, the lamb cutlets, which were almost a course in themselves. Cooked perfectly pink, along with some crisp potato wedges and a lovely minty salsa verde. Fantastic.

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Finally we decided, perhaps unwisely, to share a portion of churros with some milk chocolate sauce to dip. They were a lovely end to the meal but, by the time we left, I couldn’t even mention the word food, because I was so full.

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Everything went well together and also worked as a dish by itself, and there was still plenty on the menu that we didn’t get to try, but we’ll save them for next time. Service was friendly and quick but we didn’t feel rushed at all.

As we said, we have been here a couple of times but, every time we come it seems to get better and better. The meal, including drinks came to just under £70. It was worth every penny.

 

http://www.thelittletaperia.co.uk

@littletaperia

 

 

Borderlaise

Through the wonder that is Twitter, we heard about the Tuesday night offer at Bordelaise, of 2-4-1 Flat Iron steaks. Now, we love a bargain and we also love steak so this was a deal that was too good to pass up.

Bordelaise is in Broadway Market, tucked away near the back, and the style of their unit means it is more of a self-contained restaurant than the ones in Tooting Market. They  have 14/ 15 tables, some of which are situated outside and the décor could be described as French. It is attractive and cosy without being over fussy. When we arrived at 7.30pm, the tables we ¾ full and the atmosphere was laid back and welcoming.  We sat at a table near the door and prepared for our meal.

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We were reasonably hungry so, after ordering a glass of wine each, we also chose some Elephant Bakehouse sourdough bread and Lescure salted butter. This was served on a board and was a healthy portion of 5 slices.

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The steaks on the 2-4-1 offer were flat iron steaks and are priced at £12 each (so only £6 each this evening!). The restaurant also offers rib-eye steaks at a price of £19, but being 2-4-1 night, flat iron it was. Having both chosen the flat iron, we also opted for some truffled mac and cheese, beef dripping French fries, creamed spinach and some caramelised madeira shallots (the sides were for us to share, not each!).

We’ve had several flat iron steaks before at the eponymous restaurant in central London. Originally known as Butler’s steak in the UK, it is a cut of meat that is becoming more and more popular at restaurants simply because it’s a cheaper cut but very tender and with great meaty flavour, more so than a number of more expensive steak cuts. It’s taken from the top shoulder of the animal, and when cooked well (best served medium rare), it tastes fantastic. Bordelaise serve theirs with a choice of either béarnaise or bordelaise sauces and we both opted for the béarnaise. When the meal arrived, each slice was delicious. The steaks were tender and flavoursome, the béarnaise rich and creamy, and all of the sides complimented the steak.

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The truffled mac and cheese is lovely. The truffle gives it an earthy tone which adds another dimension to a favourite of mine.

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The fries were well cooked and crispy as you’d expect and the spinach was lovely too, but my favourite thing were the Madeira shallots. Those I have been thinking about all day. They are caramelised and make the perfect accompaniment to any steak. Absolutely gorgeous.

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Our only slight criticism was that our plates weren’t warm so the food got cool quite quickly. But, everything tasted so good, so this was just a minor thought really.

Our bill came to less than £40, which for steaks that tasted that good and all of those sides, plus a glass of wine each, we felt was a real bargain.  It definitely justified us going out on a school night.  One thing to note is that the restaurant is cash only.

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Bargain steak Tuesday!

Rock & Rose (Richmond upon Thames)

So, we did something a little crazy last weekend and took the opportunity to eat away from Tooting! Why would we do that you may ask, well it wasn’t planned, we were just in the wrong place at the right time. Finding ourselves passing through Richmond upon Thames, some friends, who were child free for the afternoon, invited us to join them at Rock & Rose at a table they were lucky enough to get after a previous booking failed to show up. Rock & Rose can be found on the Kew Road just on the edge of Richmond. We’ve driven past it many times and it’s a curious and slightly eclectic looking place from the outside.

It was late Sunday afternoon and it was busy. The restaurant has a unique sense of style which shouldn’t really work, but somehow it does and it feels decadent. The menu includes a similar eclectic mix of dishes. Some with Asian influences, some more traditional, and because it was Sunday, they were offering roasts. We didn’t go for this but many were taken to tables around us and they looked great.

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Two of us chose the cocktail special which was a salted caramel martini. It came adorned with a toasted marshmallow. It was lovely, a bit like a glass of Baileys, only nicer.

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For starters we went for a shared baked Camembert and a portion of the chilli salt squid.

The baked Camembert was really lovely. It was melted to perfection and served with plenty of lightly-toasted chiabatta along with some mini sausages, cornichons and a red onion chutney. It was a perfect start.

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The lightly battered squid, with a squeeze of lime and a chilli dip that gave a good kick of heat, was also given a thumbs up.

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For mains, between us we chose: lobster mac and cheese, butternut and wild mushroom gnocchi, whole back glazed ribs, and the monkfish and tiger prawn curry.

Firstly, the lobster mac and cheese. It was sublime. It was one of those dishes which you will find yourself craving at random moments. Lovely creamy cheesy macaroni, half a lobster tailed added for extra meaty richness, a piece of toasted garlic buttered chiabatta, and tasty mixed salad.

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The monkfish curry was fragrant and perfectly spiced, with plentiful pieces of meaty monkfish making a very filling dish (no pic, sorry!).

The ribs were sweet, tender, with a good BBQ sauce, and a generous amount of meat which was falling off the bone, just as it should be. Skin on fries and a creamy crunchy slaw are perfect accompaniments for these cracking ribs.

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The gnocchi was flavoursome, with the sweetness from the butternut and earthy wild mushrooms, green leaves and parmesan shavings on top. Quite filling.

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In a packed restaurant, the service was very friendly and well timed, and we didn’t have to wait long for our starters or mains to arrive. For an impromptu Sunday afternoon treat, this really hit the mark.  We all left feeling happy and satisfied, and ready for a Sunday afternoon nap. If you happen to be over that way, it might be worth popping in for very tasty meal.

 

 

 

Belpassi Bros

Meatballs were on the menu on Saturday evening as we had a table booked at Belpassi Bros, right next door to Honest Burger. We haven’t come across a restaurant offering just meatballs before but one of the great things about Tooting at the moment is the fact that many of the restaurants specialise in one thing and they focus on doing that really well.  In fact, Honest is a good example of this and we hoped that Belpassi Bros. would be another.

The decor inside is warm and cosy and we were quickly seated by our very friendly waitress. The menu is pretty simple. They do 5 different types of meatballs (including a vegetarian option) and you can either have meatballs and a sauce, or meatballs with a base and a sauce. The price point is reasonable with the meatballs, sauce and base costing £9.50. There are also a selection of side dishes and some cicchetti (small snacks) which can be served as starters. We ordered 2 portions of the squash and sage bruschetta and 2 portions of the arancini balls to start (we’re not that greedy, there were 4 of us).

Even as I write this, the thought of the bruschetta is making my mouth water. Quite simply, it was delicious! The smooth and sweet squash was complimented by small pieces of Gorgonzola and every mouthful was a delight.

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The courgette and mozzarella arancini balls, which came with a tomato based dip, were also lovely; well-cooked with a lovely crispy outer shell and soft, warm filling. Compared to the arancini we had at Brick & Liquor which had chorizo instead of courgette, perhaps they weren’t quite as good, but there isn’t much in it.

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For our main dishes, 2 of us chose the pork & fennel option and 2 of us went for Angus beef. Again, 2 of us opted for the San Marzano tomato and basil sauce, and the other 2 chose the amatriciana sauce (tomato, pancetta & chilli). We also had a mix between the chilli greens or rigatoni pasta as a base. We were each served a portion of 4 perfectly formed nicely sized meatballs.

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There was a good hit of fennel with the pork meatballs which worked really well with them, and the beef was rich and meaty. They weren’t drowning in sauce, which was a good thing as the flavour of the meatballs shone through and were allowed to speak for themselves. The rigatoni was cooked al-dente and was lovely. The chilli greens provided a tasty alternative with the chilli oil adding a lovely flavour.  We had also ordered rosemary fries and a portion of zucchini fritti. Now, I am not a fan of courgettes but these were lovely. The batter was light and crispy, not dripping in oil, and they were a real winner with all of us, in fact, my mouth is watering again as I write this just thinking about them.

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We ended the meal with ice cream or tiramisu. The ice cream on offer came in a range of flavours and we went for mint choc-chip (the best ice cream flavour in the world!), pear and whisky caramel (lovely pear and subtle whisky, they worked well together) and dark chocolate and orange sorbet (who doesn’t like chocolate and orange?). They were yummy with a smooth creamy texture, and really tasty.

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The tiramisu was quite a substantial portion which was rich, creamy, and generously dusted in cocoa powder.

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Along with our food, we also had a lovely but quite potent Negroni which was mixed and then served in a small neat medicine bottle, a can of pale ale (Beyond the Pale – London Beer Factory), a Sailor Jerry rum and coke, and a glass of Chianti which was quite decent and went really well with the meatballs.

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We really enjoyed our meal. The service was very friendly, attentive and not rushed. We left a full restaurant feeling comfortably stuffed and very satisfied.  Belpassi Bros would be a great place to visit for a date, a family meal or just a catch-up with friends. They might only serve meatballs, but they are a great core ingredient for a really good hearty meal.

 

http://www.belpassibros.com/

@BelpassiBros

Tooting Pop

Having been reading about it on Twitter for the last couple of weeks and discovering our fridge was empty, we made our way to the newly opened Tooting Pop for dinner. Tooting Pop is just along from Tooting Broadway station and houses a bar and 2 pop up kitchens. These kitchens will change every 6 months, and the first 2 that have the honour of getting Tooting Pop established are Raclette Bothers and Every Juan Loves Tacos.

When we arrived we were greeted by a bright, uncluttered space. The bar is in the middle with tables and seats on either side of it. The drinks menu was projected onto one wall, and the movie Cocktail was projected onto the other. The focus here is on craft beers but they also had a small selection of wines, 80’s inspired cocktails and spirits. The seating is mostly at communal canteen style benches which seat 6 comfortably, 8 at a squeeze. Early on in the evening, people were spaced out around the tables but they certainly filled up as time went on.

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We ordered a pint of Northcote Blonde and a glass of Chenin Blanc and sat down at one of the tables. Both Raclette Brothers and Every Juan Loves Tacos were new to us so we decided on trying the tacos to get us started.

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One of the great things was that the food was relatively cheap. Tacos were priced at £3 each or two for £5.50. We chose to share one of the beef brisket and one of the balsamic pork tacos. They were speedily delivered to our table and we prepared for our first real experience of tacos. A bit messy, in a good street food way, they were delicious. The beef was rich and tender and the accompaniments created a warm explosion of flavour. The pork with pineapple, lime and onion, was sweet and juicy, and the habanero salsa gave it a nice kick of heat. Good stuff.

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The tacos above had more colour to them and looked a lot more appealing than in the photo, it’s just that there is neon lighting on the walls around the seating area, and this gave quite a strange pink glow to our photos, which we’ve tried to remove.

After a short break  we decided to treat this experience a bit like a 3 course meal, so we ordered beef bourguignon buns with chips (one cheesy, one plain). This combo was priced at £9 each. Again, a really reasonable price and believe us, it was worth every penny.

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The beef bourguignon was served in a brioche bun with gooey raclette cheese, slightly bitter rocket and béarnaise sauce. It was rich, tender and delicious. The cheesy chips were topped with melted raclette. It was a filling but very tasty meal. We loved it.

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After that, it seemed rude to not go for dessert so we went back to Every Juan Loves Tacos for some Churros. When they were served the smell of cinnamon wafted towards us and they were drizzled with a chocolate sauce. Perfectly cooked, crunchy on the outside but pillowy and soft in the inside, these were the perfect end to a slightly eclectic meal.

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By the time we left, the place was packed, and we had had a really good evening. We were both absolutely stuffed and felt very satisfied.

Tooting Pop is another welcome addition to Tooting. It’s something a bit different to what is already on offer and we will definitely be back. The weekend brunch looks great so maybe next time we will give that a go.

http://www.tooting-pop.com

@tootingpop