By Tania Ballantine
Barely bigger than a postage stamp, this café-deli only has a dozen seats, but it punches well above its weight. Gourmet groceries come from near and far: organic bread from the Celtic Bakers; truffled Salami from Italy; and ‘Silent Slasher’ bottled beer, from a brewery called (yes, you guessed it), Dorset Piddle.
Urban Gourmet’s also one of the few places in the capital to find Bookhams’, a British rennet-free ‘parmesan’. Special dietary needs are certainly well catered for, with vegan savoury pastries and gluten-free cakes (lemon semolina, say). Yet the sell-out item (from Surrey cake-maker Flossy Cockles), is one of pure decadence: a double-decker chocolate ganache cake, fully encased in Maltesers.
Owner Elizabeth Bell is an ex-Sydneysider who now calls Battersea home. On our visit, she was bustling away in the kitchen, popping out every so often to check the customers were happy. We were.
Our ‘Greek’ salad was more a homage to Aussie Greek cooking than anything you’d find in the Aegean, but was zingy and full-flavoured nonetheless, combining crumbly, salty feta; chunky ripe tomatoes; and gutsy green olives with a tumble of lettuce, basil and parsley. We also enjoyed a warmly spiced spinach and lentil soup, served with dinky slices of terrific olive bread. Only a veggie pasty (billed as a 'samosa'), with its dry pastry and underseasoned filling, showed a momentary blip in proceedings. Urban Gourmet may be small, but on the whole, it’s beautiful.