The word ‘redevelopment’ is enough to strike fear into the heart of anyone who truly loves a city. You will squirm at the thought of a wrecking ball bashing up your favourite tatty townhouse; sweat over the razing of much-loved streets; and weep at the allround destruction of history, character, and the murky concrete corner where you had your first teenage smooch.
Which is to say that I’m still trying to get my head around Battersea Power Station’s monumental makeover. From the outside its spruced-up shell remains majestic, like the burlier brother of Bankside Power Station (aka the Tate Modern). And as parping out pollution isn’t really acceptable in the era of global climate crisis, Battersea – like Bankside – needed a fresh purpose. Such is the way of late-stage capitalism, it has become a shopping centre, specialising in workout gear and high-end, designer labels. Think New Bond Street on a neverending spin class at a terrifyingly luxe gym and you’re basically there.
Fresh and perky typhoon shelter squid from Cantonese comfort food specialists Siu Siu proved the ideal starter to our own personal chaos menu
There have been attempts to turn the cavernous space into a foodie hub, with branches of posh kebab house Le Bab, all-day brunch spot Where The Pancakes Are and a twee van churning out powder pink cups of Grind coffee. But the most convincing effort so far comes in the shape of the second outpost of Arcade. The food hall’s authentic street food flavours recently made the lower reaches of Centre Point the destination it always threatened to be, and Arcade’s new spot is equally engaging.
Sure, the first floor canteen space might be a touch overdesigned; there’s a hazy mid-century feel, a baby Blade Runner lighting effort, and random vintage vinyl leaning against a wall, but an omnipresent Tame Impala soundtrack blaring through the speakers as it does in midrange coffee shops from Portland to Peckham. Yet everything else is fast and fluid. Ordering is done via a QR code, with all of the hall’s 13 traders – including the stand-alone branches of Bao and smashburger stand Manna – available at the tap of a finger.
Once seated, the urge to dive into a global pick’n’mix is impossible to ignore and we order a vigorous clash of flavours. Fresh and perky typhoon shelter squid from Cantonese comfort food specialists Siu Siu proved the ideal starter to our own personal chaos menu, followed by moreish Indonesian crispy smashed duck leg with fiery sambal and turmeric rice that glowed nuclear yellow courtesy of Bebek! Bebek!. A classic braised pork bao from Bao was ordered purely for politeness (we can confirm it remains one of the finest dishes this city has to offer), while Shatta & Toum’s heavy-loaded shawarma fries and Mexa’s neat pork carnitas taco kept things punchy. Pity poor Sushi Kamon, whose subtle hand rolls were overwhelmed by Nepali street food stall Tipan Tipan’s sweet and syrupy chilli chicken momo dumplings.
Fifty years ago Battersea Power Station was pumping out fumes, but now it’s chucking out authentic flavours. This might just be a redevelopment we can get behind.
The vibe A vast 500-seater food hall in the revamped Battersea Power Station.
The food Around the world in 13 vendors; there’s Mexican, Indonesian, Taiwanese and loads more, all done to a seriously impressive standard.
The drink Enjoy a cocktail bar and a taproom and sit up at either or order a rhubarb Americano, elderflower Hemingway, or Erdinger Weissbier direct to your table.
Time Out tip Whatever you’re ordering, order Bao’s classic bao on the side or forever live in a world of regret.