Lola Rojo, on Battersea’s Northcote Road, is still a destination for cocina nueva-style Catalan small plates of Spanish food. Seven years on and the dishes are good, but it’s a busy and cramped little restaurant – expansion was the overdue solution.
Rosita is Lola Rojo’s new branch, just a few minutes’ walk away. But rather than duplicating the original’s menu, the husband-and-wife owners have produced a Madrid-style tapas menu with a more traditional approach – sherry and jamón are the stars. The sherry list can be tried as ‘flights’ of wines – three small but varied glasses of bone-dry finos, for example, or fuller-bodied manzanilla pasadas. These are perfectly matched to the bellota (acorn-fed) ham, which was well carved; or perhaps a piece of the leg of jamón hanging over the bar.
The cooked dishes are nearly as simple, such as the baked duck egg with spinach and goat’s cheese. A Josper grill sears seafood and meats, like our slab of Iberian pork. Rosita uses good ingredients and the dishes are very fresh. The chickpea mash, the firm and fresh patatas fritas with alioli, and the sultry piquillo peppers were all notably good. Less successful was the rubbery deep-fried calamari with batter that slid off. But most dishes far exceeded the tapas-bar norm.
On our visit, Rosita was filled with the sort of affluent incomers to Battersea who, just a few years ago, would rarely have ventured south of Chelsea. Now, Battersea’s tittle-tattle is of Russell Group universities and basement conversions, over clinked glasses of Pedro Ximénez.