I have never had reasons to visit Tooting; This is, after all, the home of my beloved Apollo Banana Leaf, one of the best Sri Lankan restaurants in London; at Spice Village, the South Tayyabs, serving a fantastic menu of authentic Punjabi dishes; and a host of other South Indian and Sri Lankan hills worthwhile everything and nothing Tooting Road. This is a true food destination, and the fact that it's only 20 minutes away on bus 219 from my house is, for somebody else, stuck with the unfaithful selection of restaurants on Lavender Hill (except Mien Tay), a real bargain.
One of the most recent arrivals in Broadway is the Tapas Room, a small parallel project of Donostia Social Club and therefore already a good pedigree. The menu is short – only 3 hot dishes, the rest mostly cheese and sausage – and simple; there is no leg of jamón ibérico de bellota carved, for example (there is no place to start), and no fancy cut presa or secreta seared into a charcoal Josper grid. It is closer, in fact, to the kind of tapas bar that you will find in the streets of Spain than the great starred restaurants in London and Spain such as José or Barrafina.
And yet, in simplicity, there is often a great beauty. Pan con tomate is basically the tapas room in one dish – bright and cheerful, very nice but also clearly with a good knowledge of Spanish food, it was the best I have tried since Barrafina, and like all tried world that will tell you, this is a great compliment. Everything was just about that – excellent quality tomatoes seasoned with large crystals of sea salt, a light garlic burn and, most importantly, a lightly grilled ciabatta that is not too much chewed up. A panoramic master class.
The perfect chicken liver was also a good example, with a smooth and light texture and a good rich flavor. He came with a marinated fig – presumably pickled in the house, but do not quote me on that – who played the chutney that would usually happen with a perfect chicken liver.
At the risk of repeating myself, the two hot dishes were also, well, great. The first white asparagus, delicately charred on the grill and dressed in a romesco / pesto comto with some roasted almonds on top, was a perfect showcase for this seasonal delicacy.
And then, up to the end, a giant slab of sweet morcilla, grilled to crunchy on the edges, but sweet and sparkling inside, with some fried quail eggs on top like large cartoon eyes. Like everything that had happened before, it was skillfully built and presented with confidence, uninteresting but eminently enjoyable.
With so many fantastic Spanish restaurants in London at the moment, it is very easy, despite our best intentions, to be a little jaded when yet another pretty little look serves to serve cheese and cold cuts and fried morcilla with quail eggs. It is therefore important to never make the mistake of thinking about managing a place like this easy – we happen to have a large number of people very talented here for the moment, who serve some of the best Spanish cuisine outside of Spain (and, will face it, inside Spain as well) for a price ( less than £ 20 at the head of the food above) that only the miser could complain. Yes, there are more fun, more expensive and more elaborate places to eat Spanish food, but it is a cuisine defined by its sheer variety. Of course, there's the Tapas room for everyone?