A high-rolling kebab joint in Battersea? You better believe it! BabaBoom is like a pomegranate-coloured jewel glittering among the neighbourhood chains, a class act serving the real thing from a bespoke charcoal grill that comes complete with sections for ‘slow burning’ and ‘intense heat’. Ingredients are lovingly prepped, there are just four different fillings, portions are generous, and staff are a fun-loving bunch.
‘French dips’ are the thing here, although there’s nothing Gallic about this US diner concept – hot meat sandwiches doused in gravy with more of the juicy stuff in a jug for dipping. They’re fine enough, although we prefer the ‘flip’ side of things – especially their charred-on-the-outside bacon cheeseburger snuggled into a rich brioche bun. We also like D&F’s upbeat soundtrack and its fun-loving vibe.
On the traffic-clogged road between Wandsworth Town and Clapham Junction, the stripped-back Hatched is for people who are ‘serious about food’. Service is genial, the pace is leisurely, and the cooking is bang-on confident – try their beef-cheek arancini, lamb chops with a pimped-up pot of moussaka or their brilliant pain perdu. Cheerful, yes; cheap, no – but this is W1 quality in SW11.
The younger sibling of Mien Tay on Kingsland Road, this family-run Vietnamese outfit brightens up Lavender Hill with its clear-flavoured regional cooking. Seafood is the top shout (anything from prawns wrapped around sugar cane to stewed Mekong-style catfish), but don’t miss the spicy, garlicky chargrilled quail or the stir-fried goat suffused with galangal. They also do a ‘mien’ pho topped with rare beef.
With Rabbit and The Shed already under their belts, the go-getting Gladwin brothers have rolled out Nutbourne – yet another faux-rustic, wood-cladded eatery with a similarly green and pleasant feel. Top-notch seasonal ingredients from the family farm in Nutbourne, Sussex do the business (their super-fresh, creative salads are among the best we’ve tasted), while patriotic English wines come from the namesake vineyard.
Born in Winchester, but with this des-res offshoot in Battersea, Pi Pizza is a funky place personally designed by its fashion-trained owner Rosie Whaley, complete with a tree in the main dining room. Pi’s 20-inch pizza crusts (you’re encouraged to go ‘half and half’ and choose two kinds) depend on 72-hour fermented dough, while the toppings are as colourful as the restaurant’s interior (’nduja, ricotta, mint and jalapeño jam, for example). Starters such as burrata with caramelised figs are fine, but the clue is in the name: you’re here for the pizza.
Closer to Battersea Park than Clapham Junction, Santa Maria is all about steak – Argentinian, of course. First-class cuts from the parrilla grill lure in the punters, and SM’s high-protein flavour bombs come with an extra salvo of volcanically hot chips. Sadly, just about everything else is below par – although we like Santa Maria’s stylishly robust look and its beefy Argentinian wines.
An offshoot of Covent Garden’s Terroirs, Soif is très jolie – the kind of neighbourhood bistro you’d expect in rural France rather than Battersea Rise. There’s also a subtle whiff of mid-century Parisian cool about the place, while the food is a mix of pure-bred charcuterie, Gallic staples and Mediterranean tapas-style plates. Soif’s unique selling point, however, is its huge list of organic and terroir-led natural wines.
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