Source has big boots to fill. It has taken over the site that was Ransome’s Dock – for two decades a top-rated destination restaurant in all the guidebooks, despite its hard-to-find Battersea location. The site’s new incumbents have bravely stripped out the last-century decor, replacing the comfy chairs with fashionable (if hard) pews.
The new look and feel is certainly more youthful, and at Source – named after this former ice factory’s own water source, an artesian well – hope must spring eternal for the new crew. Diners are met at the entrance by Elsa de Jager, one of the couple who run the restaurant. With her husband Johan, the pair were advertising for a chef just weeks before opening. After hiring one who lasted just a few weeks, they eventually found Matt Tarantini.
Source’s menu concentrates on simple, seasonal ingredients. Crab on toast with lemon aioli was prosaic enough, as was cod with aubergine and chickpeas – simple, but good cooking, of the sort an accomplished home cook might make. Ricotta-stuffed gnudi took a good deal more skill, the pasta dumplings well textured and complemented by sage and parsnips.
Portion sizes varied wildly, with one main course as small as a starter, but we forgave the kitchen once the desserts arrived. The malt chocolate cake with pumpkin was a masterpiece of flavour combinations, as was the ginger-flavoured rhubarb with a nutty shortbread biscuit.
It may not have the big-name pull of Gordon Ramsay’s nearby London House, or the legacy that Ransome’s Dock came with, but go straight to the Source: it’s worth seeking out.