Boqueria Battersea

A new branch of Boqueria opened recently on Queenstown Road in a prime spot near Battersea Park. It’s as much a deli, serving lunchtime treats to local workers, as a more formal tapas restaurant.


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Boqueria Battersea – new branch on Queenstown Road with roadside seating


On completing our D.I.Y. shopping chores (yawn) the other Saturday morning in a hired zip car, we spontaneously decided to delay doing said D.I.Y., in favour of trying a take-away tapas lunch from Boqueria Market.

A scorching hot day, this new branch was busy, with all five (circa) of the outdoor tables occupied. Now this branch is beautifully done out but those outdoor tables are still on traffic-heavy Queenstown Road and Battersea Park Road…

Indoors, some customers were sitting in the deli area on high stools having a leisurely lunch and cocktails, and a few were dining in the restaurant at the back. All looked to be relaxed and enjoying themselves.


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Deli counter – salads, snacks, tuna empanadillas, variety of cakes


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Simple rustic-feel restaurant area – small restaurant at the back


The deli counter displayed a tempting selection of salads and cakes, not to mention tuna empanadillas (tomato and tuna pie) @ £3.50 a slice so – along with all the tapas options too – there’s plenty of choice.


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Whole jambon


For the two of us to share I ordered:
~ Bread @ £1.60 + marinated olives @ £2.00
~ Patatas bravas – lightly spicy crispy potatoes @ £4.20
~ Chorizo in cider @ £4.90
~ Pork + beef meatballs in tomato sauce @ £6.00
~ Spanish tortilla @ £4.90


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Tapas take-away lunch


Our total lunch for two came to £23.90 – very reasonable for freshly prepared, good quality, and thoroughly enjoyable food. Certainly as good as Brixton Boqueria.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Spanish, tapas
~ Address: 278 Queenstown Road, Battersea, London
~ Postcode: SW8 4LT
~ Tel: 020 7498 8427
~ Nearest station: Battersea Park
~ Website + menus: Boqueria market website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Boqueria food
~ Location: Boqueria Battersea map


RELATED LINKS
More Battersea dining:
~ Dalila – top Lebanese restaurant
~ Nancy Lam’s Enak Enak – *best* restaurant on Lavender Hill (Indonesian / SE Asian fusion)
~ Santa Maria del Sur


Boqueria Market on Urbanspoon


		
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Dalila – Lebanese in Battersea

Any restaurant that opens next door to Santa Maria del Sur on Queenstown Road, Battersea, is going to have fierce competition.

It may not be surprising then, that Dalila’s predecessor, Tom Ilic – a French-style restaurant that looked like a carnivore’s dream – only lasted a couple of years. Disappointingly for me, it closed before making it to the top of my ‘to try’ list. Dalila, a classy Lebanese restaurant opened in 2013 in the same spot.

J and I came here on a Friday evening recently. At the end of a working week in the City where everywhere’s overcrowded and hectic, it was pleasing to get out of central London and unwind over great food and wine in the serene, spacious restaurant that is Dalila.


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Fresh n crunchy falafel – divine


We ordered very leisurely. Our server gave us help with food and wine choices when asked. Nothing was rushed. We shared a ‘mezze’ selection of both hot and cold dishes, accompanied by a dry white Massaya Blanc wine from the Bekaa Valley @ £21.50 (very reasonably priced and very well suited to the food ordered – it went down very well).

I eat a fair amount of falafal. I love it. Some of the best I’ve had being from street food stalls. But Dalila’s falafel (deep fried beans, chickpeas and fine herbs croquettes, served with sesame paste @ £5.95) is in a league of its own. It is quite simply the best I’ve had, coated in coarse, crunchy crumb and stuffed with fresh herbs.

Just writing this makes me want to go back right now and eat some.


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Hummus + moutabel dips with Lebanese pitta bread


The super-soft, stringy, melt-in-your-mouth halloumi was in a league of its own too. No rubbery squeaking here that you often get with supermarket longer life halloumi packets. Though I must admit I quite like a cheese that squeaks.

The moutabel (grilled aubergine puree with sesame paste and lemon juice @ £4.95), hummus @ £4.75 and fresh pitta bread, plus calamari pane (squid dipped in a spicy flour mixture and fried with garlic, coriander and chilli @ £5.95) were all an absolute treat.


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Mixed mezze: halloumi, calamari so tender it melts in your mouth + samke harra fish


We also shared batata harra (potato cubes sautéed with garlic, sweet pepper, chilli, onions and fresh coriander @ £4.95), samke harra (grilled fish fillet with onions, garlic, tomatoes, green pepper, red pepper and coriander) @ £6.95 and – even though we were stuffed – managed to squeeze in five *tiny* baklawa pastries between us (filo pastry filled with ground nuts, baked and then drenched in honey) @ £3.95.


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Samke harra fish mezze


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Baklawa


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Total bill for two including a 10% service charge was £78.16


The verdict: Dalila might be off the beaten track (it’s a few minutes walk from both Queenstown Road or Battersea Park rail stations or a good 15 minute walk from Clapham Common tube station) but it’s well worth a visit. Some of the best middle eastern food I’ve ever had. I can’t wait to go back.

The a la carte menu is reasonably priced as it is but they also offer set menus. And if you go during off peak hours, they accept Tastecard (currently 2-for-1 for a max of two people) but check the website for latest offers.


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: Lebanese
~ Address: 123 Queenstown Road, Battersea, London
~ Postcode: SW8 3RH
~ Tel: 020 7622 0555
~ Nearest train stations: Queenstown Road, Battersea Park (or Clapham Common tube station)
~ Website + menus: Dalila’s website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Dalila’s food
~ Location: Dalila’s map


RELATED LINKS
More Battersea fine-dining:
~ Nancy Lam’s Enak Enak – *best* restaurant on Lavender Hill (Indonesian / SE Asian fusion)
~ Santa Maria del Sur


Dalila on Urbanspoon

Bombay Bicycle Club Battersea + Balham – CLOSED

Bombay Bicycle Club (BBC) has a new ‘Back to our best’ (old) menu.

They’ve got rid of all the interesting dishes that differentiated them from every other Indian restaurant/ take-away on the high street, and are back to offering bog-standard basics. Examples of starters include onion bhajees, samosas, kebabs, mixed grill; examples of mains: madras, masala, korma, dansak – either fish, chicken, lamb or veggie.

In my previous post on BBC I mentioned that their delivery service can be poor although food was top-notch. At that time (June 2010) they were running incentive schemes for customers through their Curry Lover’s Club.

We decided to get an Indian food delivery last night. Spoilt for choice by the number of good Indian restaurants in the area, we opted for Bombay Bicycle Club over the others as I fancied getting their masala calamari starter (‘crispy masala salt and chilli calamari with sweet chilli chutney’).

Their current incentive scheme – as advertised on a recently received menu – is to order online and collect ‘Penny Farthing’ points. However, when I went to order online their website was a holding-page saying ‘under construction’ and to make any orders by phone.

So I phoned, and the masala calamari was – unfortunately – no longer available, but we still ordered with them anyway: a chicken dansak (K’s favourite, and his benchmark dish) and a chicken murgh aishwaria (sliced chicken in a rich, almond sauce).

Had I made either of these dishes at home, I’d have been quite pleased as I’m not a specialist at cooking Indian food. But they were disappointingly bland and boring. There was no depth of flavour, just a lack of spiciness. Very middle of the road. And the aishwaria (almond sauce) was more sweet and sickly than nutty.

It would seem then that Bombay Bicycle Club’s reduced menu and “back to our best” strapline means they’ve cut back. They’ve down-graded and simplified their food, but by trying to appeal to everyone they risk appealing to no-one.

I mentioned this to a friend today and she’d had a similar experience with Bombay Bicycle Club Balham recently. She also found their food to be quite tasteless and disappointing. On the plus side though, she has to walk past the Balham restaurant on her way home every evening and isn’t remotely tempted or enticed by them!

Bombay Bicycle Club is off the menu.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 2 / 5
~ Type: Indian
~ Restaurants: all over London including SW6, SW8, SW12, SW15, SW17, SW20, W6, W9, N1, N11, SE10, SE11, SE22,
~ Website: Bombay Bicycle Club

Balham rank:
Bombay Bicycle Club on Urbanspoon

Battersea rank:
Bombay Bicycle Club on Urbanspoon


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BBC Battersea’s final attempt to generate custom – cheese and onion samosas, March 2012
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The BBC Battersea branch has since closed.

And then re-opened as ‘New Bombay Bicycle Club’ – http://www.newbombaybicycle.com/

Khan-a-Punjab – CLOSED

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Lardbutty restaurant of the week: Khan-a-Punjab
Sabzee sizzler (vegetable platter) + matar paneer (cheesey peas)

This amazing restaurant opened five months ago, and – along with Santa Maria del Sur – puts Queenstown Road in competition with neighbouring Lavender Hill, when it comes to fine dining.

Specialising in low-fat, colour-free Indian cuisine made from carefully sourced ingredients, Khan-a-Punjab has an interestingly varied menu with some Punjabi specialities, and is very reasonably priced for such quality.

The sabzee sizzler starter is a tandoor-roasted vegetable platter of courgettes, aubergines, potatoes, tomatoes and onions. It certainly does sizzle and is great for sharing. Matar paneer – one of my favourite Indian dishes – serves as my benchmark between different restaurants and passed the test with flying colours here. Delicious.

Spoilt for choice from these chicken specials, I asked the Sultan which dish he’d choose if he was going on his break right then. On his say-so, I opted for the galina sha coo tee (“the most complex of all curries from Goa” comprising over twelve spices) and wasn’t disappointed.

And next time, I’ll be trying the ‘Foot path hotel curry’ (Delhi style rogan josh dish of diced and minced lamb cooked with exotic crushed reshampatti chillies, tomatoes and herbs). Roll on next time.

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Fine, quality food – paneer tawa masala, pilau rice (with cardamom pods, cinnamon cloves, saffron + caramelised fried onion), puri + galina sha coo tee

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4 / 5
~ Type: Indian
~ Website, menus, book online: Khan-a-Punjab website
~ Postcode: SW8 3RE
~ Nearest stations: Queenstown Road (mainline) Clapham Commom (tube)
~ Location: Khan-a-Punjab map

Amazing Thai

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Amazing Thai on Lavender Hill

‘Amazing’ might be a slight exaggeration, although this Thai restaurant is pretty good. I’ve eaten here a few times over the years and it’s usually not busy, even on a weekend evening. On one particularly quiet evening, one of the female staff showed us how to fold fancy serviette shapes when I was intrigued by her folding talents!

Food is good, from perfectly squidgy and tasty tord mun pla (fish cake) starter @ £4.95, to green chicken or red beef curries (about £6.50) or gang mussamun @ £7.50 (lamb curry with potatoes and peanuts, served in a clay pot). However, it is quite expensive considering it’s at the ‘wrong’ end of Lavender Hill and slightly off the beaten track.

Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 3 / 5
~ Type: Thai
~ Postcode: SW11 5RL
~ Nearest station: Clapham Common (tube) or Clapham Junction (mainline)
~ Website: n/a
~ Location: Amazing Thai map

Amazing Thai Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Santa Maria – Lardbutty restaurant of the year 2010

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Santa Maria del Sur – Lardbutty restaurant of the year 2010

SW8’s best kept secret is well and truly out: Santa Maria del Sur.

In Gordon Ramsay’s F Word series 5 he told the world that the steak at Santa Maria del Sur was the best he’d ever tasted. Could there be a higher accolade? This small and cosy restaurant was always busy but now it’s advisable to book a couple of months in advance.


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Parrillada Deluxe – mixed grill for two comprising 350g sirloin steak, 250g fillet steak, Argentine-style sausage, black pudding + provolone cheese


I was introduced to parrilladas (mixed grills to share) on my first visit here in 2006. This is clearly what the restaurant specialises in, so I’ve stuck to them on every visit since, also sharing other plates and starters so I can work my way through the menu(!) without sacrificing the perfectly cooked meats.


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Parrillada deluxe meat fest with grilled mushrooms


The grilled tuna steak, empanadas (Argentine pasties), provoleta (grilled cheese), morcilla (black pudding) sausages, sirloin and fillet steaks are consistently perfect (with fillet outranking sirloin). Given the quality and size of the portions, £25 per person for the parrillada deluxe is well worth it. And there’s a good selection of reasonably priced wines (malbec from £15.50 a bottle – *update April 2014: excellent Famiglia Bianchi Malbec Reserva 2011-12 ‘world’s best wine’ @ £38*).


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Cosy interior – with soft lighting


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Pancake dessert


I’ve visited on different days of the week and at different times and all have been good. We spent a lovely leisurely Sunday afternoon here last September (for K’s dad’s birthday) when service was exceptionally good (perhaps because it wasn’t as frantic as it is sometimes in the evening). We visited last night, a Monday evening, with my parents. The restaurant was fully booked – people turning up on the offchance of getting a table were turned away. We left four very happy customers.

So, does any restaurant deserve full marks or is there always room for improvement? Santa Maria currently ranks top of the Lardbutty index, scoring 4.5 out of 5. It’s so close but doesn’t quite warrant the full 5 marks, as on one Friday night when the restaurant was packed and hectic, we were a party of five squashed on a table for four. We were short on table space for the parrilladas and shared plates, and the fifth person was seated in a busy gangway. We overlooked this slight discomfort – of course – as everything else was exceptional.


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Sample bill for two – as of April 2014


Restaurant info:
~ Lardbutty rating: 4.5 / 5
~ Type: Argentine
~ Address: 129 Queenstown Road, Battersea, London
~ Postcode: SW8 3RH
~ Nearest station: Queenstown Road, Battersea Park mainline stations
~ Website: Santa Maria del Sur website
~ Photos on flickr: images of Santa Maria del Sur food
~ Location: Restaurant map


FourAndHalfStars

Santa Maria Del Sur on Urbanspoon