Food writer Sudi Pigott delivers March’s essential news for South West London foodies, from tapas in Balham and brunch in Battersea to the latest game-changing food blog…
REVIEW: Casa Diego, Balham
An authentic Spanish tapas bar is exactly what I craved in Balham, so long may Casa Diego (pictured above) be with us. Owner Diego is a Spanish-trained lawyer who came to London to improve his English and got lured into the restaurant world. Inspired by family recipes and driven by an energetic personality, he is making an impression. Croquetas are the benchmark of good tapas and here their outer crumbed texture is superb and their inner béchamel recipe is highly creative, with aubergine and melted mozzarella. Be sure to order sourdough pan con tomato with garlic aioli. My one gripe is that cooking smells permeated the small dining room and clung to my clothes.
9 Hildreth Street SW12 9RQ; 020 8675 9889
Brunch at Bird House, Battersea
Brunch often seems an odd treat to me. I certainly don’t see the point of paying significant premium on smoked salmon and scrambled eggs that I can knock up at home. Brunch for me should offer something refreshingly different. There’s a South American accent to brunch dishes at Birdhouse in Battersea, a cosy cafe that prides itself on everything being handmade in house. I really like sweet potato and corn tomale served with the requisite brunch essential, smashed avocado. Inside out egg turned out to be nothing more exciting that meat. Southern tamale influence, all authentically handmade even if inside out scotch eggs are a cop out. Look out for evening supper clubs every month.
123 St John’s Hill SW11 1SZ; 020 7228 6663
New blog: 101 Cookbooks
Heidi Swanson’s new blog, 101 Cookbooks, is a wonderful resource. It’s a kind of a Spotify for the foodie, if you like, for anyone who wants to know who and what their favourite chefs have on their bookshelves and what music they listen to whilst they cook. Number one is Fergus Henderson’s gutsy Nose to Tale Dining. There’s even a contribution from me listing my top ten cookbooks, as well as lists from some of my culinary heroes, including Yotam Ottolenghi, Jason Atherton and Anne Dolamore.
Unwined is a welcome addition to Tooting’s market that grew out of a pop-up wine matching supper club (A Grape Night Out). The premise is that every month a different chef is in residence and the wine store stocks a sleuth of intriguing wines from independent and off-beat small-scale producers to match the menu. It’s a great concept and the wines I tried were unusual and very good indeed, though the food on my first visit was so-so. I am keen enough to want to return in March to try out a gutsy-sounding Korean/American barbecue takeover who have done the circuit of street food.
16A Tooting Market, 21-23 Tooting High Street SW17; 020 3286 4631
GAIL’S BAKERY: My favourite hot cross buns are from Gail’s Bakery and are well worth their price (£1.50 each or 6 for £8) with delicious soft texture and most delicious crumb with plenty of fruit including raisins and cranberries and distinctive cinnamon spicing.
BISCUITEERS: A rather charming treat for a mother: Biscuiteers will customise their large iced teapot biscuit with your Mum’s name and send it in a good-looking box. £11.95.
MELROSE & MORGAN: Melrose & Morgan does one of the best simnel cakes in London. It’s fabulously moist and very generously studded with dried and candied fruit. It is large enough to feed a good-sized family gathering.