A Taste of Spain on my (Old) Door Step
Guest post by Sarah James:
Fiona had kindly invited me to accompany her to Boqueria on Acre Lane about a year ago, and I thought that the food was fantastic on that occasion, so when she asked if I’d like to review the new Battersea restaurant I jumped at the chance. There are quite a few restaurants on Queenstown Road, mainly at the end near the Wandsworth Road, and I had assumed that it would be somewhere down there. When I did look closely, I got the biggest shock; it is right next door to where I used to live from 1989 to 1994, only in those days it was a Barclays Bank.
My maisonette is the one with the green door to the left (in fact, I don’t think it’s been painted since I moved 20 years ago!). This part of Battersea is starting to thrive; the long awaited development to the Power Station is at last happening, the American Embassy is due to move to Nine Elms, and people are realising how well connected it is for public transport. The arrival of Boqueria is an indication of that optimism; the owner told me that he likes to pick sites which aren’t already full of good restaurants and in this way fill a local need.
I couldn’t wait to get inside and see what they had done with the place. As well as the outside seating there is a bar area, and then the restaurant to the back. The place is modern, but retains a cosy feel with quirky touches such as upside down baskets hung from the ceiling. You know that you are in for a treat when you see the selection of hams awaiting. (If you are a carnivore that is!).
The staff are all from Barcelona, and are very knowledgeable about both the food and wine. Our waiter told us that there are some differences in the menu and wine lists between Acre Lane and Queenstown Road, but that the majority were the same.
I always find it really hard to decide what to have in a tapas restaurant; it brings out the worst in me, as I want to try lots of the dishes. If you are in a group, it works brilliantly as you can all have a little of each. I suspect that the two of us ate more than we should. All in the interest of research of course! We nibbled on almonds and olives whilst enjoying a chilled glass of Cava.
Our waiter recommended the Pincho with brie and Parma ham. This was melt in the mouth delicious, and reminded me of eating in little bars in Barcelona where you’d chose these from a glass shelf over the bar.
The octopus with paprika on finely sliced potatoes came up warm, which was a surprise as I was expecting this to be a cold dish. The octopus was perfectly cooked, it can be so easy to overcook and make rubbery, here it was far from that.
We went on to have croquettas with ham, these were a melt in mouth delight.
The Pincho de Solomillo de ternera con foie y P.X. which is Beef Tenderloin, Foie and Pedro Ximénez on toasted bread, was again cooked perfectly, and matched the wine that our waiter had recommended.
At the risk of looking like aging Goths, we ordered the black rice with mussels and squid. This was seasoned perfectly, keeping just to the right side of saltiness. Our lips and tongues did go black though!
Our water glasses were constantly refreshed, and the service was attentive without being intrusive.
The big treat for me was being taken downstairs to see the old bank safes. I had always joked that I could tunnel through from my bedroom into the bank vaults, but had never seen them. The safes were too heavy to remove so have been left in the basement and cleverly used to house larders and fridges. The owner explained that he had big plans for this area, and would be using it for parties and private dining, seats at the chefs table. I think this will be a lot of fun once it’s done.
I genuinely think that this is some of the best tapas to be found in London, and even if you don’t live in Battersea, it’s 1 minute from Battersea Park Station and 2 minutes from Queenstown Road Station. Combine with a trip to Battersea Park/stroll along the river for a great London day.
Boqueria is at 280 Queenstown Road, Battersea, SW8 4LT