Italian Heaven in Elephant at Bottles & Battles
A stone’s throw from Elephant and Castle Tube Station, opposite the Southwark Playhouse there’s a gateway manned by security guards in the evenings. A club perhaps? In a way, Mercato Metropolitano has become just that. Despite being just three years old, this massive space of indoor and outdoor street food and more is so popular that there are queues at the weekends just to get in. With Italian founders, it’s hardly surprising that there’s an Italian wine bar – and I’m excited to go along and find out more
You’ll find an abundance of food and non-food related activities inside. There are street food stands, a microbrewery, an outdoor cinema, an Italian focussed deli and food store and a whole range of ad-hoc events from dances to yoga and cookery lessons. It’s a place to go and meet friends where you can chill, relax, enjoy anything from wine to fancy cocktails and eat whatever you choose – from French tartines to Vietnamese pho. There’s plenty of space indoors for when it rains and more seating outside if it’s warm enough to relax al-fresco.
Bottles & Battles, the sister of the popular Bottles Italian wine bar in Spitalfields is indoors with two options for those who want to eat and drink. There’s a streetfood style bar which looks out onto the main indoor market.
So if your group want to pick and choose from the various stands, that’s the place to order. And, there’s a wine shop and wine bar with indoor seating – a large sharing table, a couple of upturned barrels with stools and a lounge-type section with a lower table where you can sit and sip on their extensive stock of wines (mostly Italian). The wines are for sale to take home too, so if you find something you like you can stock up.
While we were considering what to eat, we started with a glass of sparkling Rosato wine from Veneto. Rosato Spumante Cecilia Beretta. Made from the Glera grape, it was a lovely light, fruity mouthful.
This place genuinely does remind me of an Italian Enoteca. I remember sitting in a tiny medieval village on a hilltop in Abruzzo eating much the same kind of offering and sipping on local Pecorino and Montepulciano d’Abruzzo wines. At Bottles and Battles, the staff are friendly and knowledgeable, the manager tells us that he was a sommelier before he started working at Bottles & Battles – and the food is really very good.
A large plate of burrata and Parma ham arrived, drizzled prettily with balsamic and accompanied by paper bags full of what I know as ‘piano bread’ – an Italian flatbread, pane carasau, that originates from Sardinia.
My companion doesn’t like heavy red wines so we tried two different options at this stage. For me, a deep, minerally red wine, Valenti Norma Etna Rosso, from Sicily, for her a crisp white Sicilian wine.
The cheese and meat board for two was overflowing with treats. I had to ask for a list to remind me.
There was capo collo (a delicate cured pork neck), pancetta a cotta (cooked pork belly) and Finocciona (fennel salami) from Tuscany. A potent ventricini (chilli salami) from Abruzzo and prosciutto di Parma from Emilia Romagna. Two cheeses from Sicily – tuma primo sale chilli and pepper, a delicious formaggio del Castello from Piedmonte and a delicious white pecorino sardo from Sardinia.
More wine, in the form of Contado Riserva 2014 from Molise and Monteraponi Rosso from Tuscany Italy. I loved the leathery notes of the Contado Riserva while my companion was impressed to be introduced to a red wine she enjoyed which paired perfectly with the food we were eating.
Having eaten lunch rather late in the day, I wasn’t really hungry at this stage. My companion though was still going strong and ordered the bavette, which arrived perfectly cooked and with a side of roasted Mediterranean vegetables. A slice for me confirmed delicious and well-aged meat. Other options included porchetta and various pasta dishes which are freshly cooked to order.
For me, Bottles and Battles at Mercato Metropolitano is the perfect option. Just that little bit more grown-up and private than the communal tables in the main market, with the kind of selection of Italian wines that makes me very happy. I’m genuinely pleased to have sampled the food at this Italian wine bar and I know I’ll be back
Bottles & Battles
42 Newington Causeway
London SE1 6DR
Nearest station – Elephant and Castle.
Opening hours: seven days a week. Mon-Fri, 8am – 11pm; Sat, 11am – 11pm; Sun, 11am – 10pm.
Price: Entry is free, food prices vary.
More information: visit the Bottles & Battles website. If you still need convincing, do check out the main Mercato Metropolitano website too.
Disclosure – we were provided with complimentary food and wine for the purpose of this review. All content is editorially given