With rockstar position overlooking the Thames and found in the shadow of Royal Festival Hall, tapas restaurant La Gamba serves up seafood-heavy Spanish small plates with a relaxed chic flair.

The restaurant is by the trio of brothers behind Applebee’s Fish which has been running out of Borough Market first as a stall and then a restaurant since 1998. Like the Borough Market venue,  La Gamba on South Bank comes with an unfussy approach in the kitchen, and warm hospitality out on the floor.

Without question, La Gamba’s large terrace seating area will be jammed with people come the summer months due to its prime location.

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With only the throngs of tourists and day trippers standing between diners and an unfettered view of the Thames - and of the City of London beyond - it’s to be expected.  Still, you’d be wrong to think the restaurant is just a warm weather venue.

The Resident: La Gamba serves small plates with plenty of seafood optionsLa Gamba serves small plates with plenty of seafood options (Image: Rebecca Dickson)

The dining room, which curves around a large centrepiece bar also comes with a touch of summer and sun with its rattan seating and cheerfully chic stylings, even if the weather calls for a scarf and hat.

Sitting somewhere between casual enough and not-too-fancy the dining room was busy and buzzing on the evening I turned up hungry.

There was a friendly briskness to the evening and I like a bit of bustle in a restaurant - a busy kitchen turning around plates at speed and the hubbub of chat and music and a little bit of incidental clatter puts me at ease in a place.

The Resident: The terrace overlooks the ThamesThe terrace overlooks the Thames (Image: Rebecca Dickson)

With a glass of cava to start, my pal and I tried a mix of small plates from the current and upcoming menu. As you would expect, seafood features heavily throughout.

The wild mushroom croquettes were a highlight with their warm, mushy insides and crunchy shell, as were the king prawns served in a pool of garlicky olive oil with chilli and parsley, which we greedily mopped up with bread that wasn’t smeared in a morish anchovy butter already  

The octopus gazpacho, was, thankfully, not a soup, but a rather pleasingly light dish of smoked octopus drizzled in a tomato and onion salsa and piled with rocket.

The Resident: Rattan detail gives the dining room a breezy, summery feelRattan detail gives the dining room a breezy, summery feel (Image: Rebecca Dickson)

The roasted artichokes sitting in a smear of nut butter sprinkled with pistachios and petals was vegan and very pretty, but perhaps the heroes of the meal were the desserts.

The generous slab of Basque cheesecake served with raspberry compote, though the size of a main, was neither too heavy nor too sweet. No matter how small or large my portion of the torrijas was, I could have eaten more.

A Spanish take on French toast, it tasted like some sort of bread and butter pudding doughnut concoction and came with biscuity crumbs and a scoop of ice-cream which would have made a satisfyingly simple dessert on its own.

The Resident: The mushroom croquettes were a hitThe mushroom croquettes were a hit (Image: Rebecca Dickson)

As you would expect the wine list is hand-picked by the senior team and is heavy with Spanish drops – although a girl can get a glass or two of a Cote de Provence blush rose if that’s what she has her heart set on.

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It’s the ideal length for a wine list too – not overwhelmingly long nor disappointingly short and nothing on it is ridiculously priced either.

We all need a few good restaurants up our sleeves in South Bank, for before gigs and shows, or for when you’re dragging out of towners around. The warm and affable La Gamba is one such spot.

Address:Unit 3, Royal Festival Hall, Queen's Walk South Bank SE1 8XX

Website: lagambalondon.com