Casa Diego Bar de Tapas (CLOSED)
Time Out says
Please note, this venue is now closed. Time Out Eating & Drinking editors, Nov 2016.
Team David, or team Goliath? Well if you like to champion the underdog, then you’ll love this little tapas joint. On the site once home to The Lodge (a winter-themed pop-up, now just up from Clapham North tube), it’s the closest thing Balham has to a pop-up, though it’s actually permanent.
It certainly looks the part, from the ‘beach hut’ style white walls, to the baby clothes artfully strung onto a washing line – giving it the true air of someone’s ‘Casa’– to the Latino soundtrack coming from a portable speaker precariously balanced on a chair.
Likewise, the cooking is more ‘home-style’ than restaurant-standard. On the plus side, this means large portions (which, combined with reasonable prices, makes for a cheap meal), but there were also blips that exposed amateurishness. Padrón peppers were good quality but not sufficiently blistered, while the ratio of potato to egg in a classic tortilla was completely wrong (all potato, no egg). Happily, other dishes, such as a simple gambas (small shell-off prawns sizzling in garlicky, chilli-spiked oil), an interesting cheese board and a pud of silky, orange-y crema catalana (the Spanish version of crème brûlée) restored faith. They also did a good flamenquin: essentially a long chicken cordon bleu (as in, filled with ham and melted cheese, then breaded) that comes cut and served in rounds like maki sushi.
Best of all, the tiny team (just three people on a Saturday night) make you feel like you’re in their Casa. For something different in an increasingly chain-dominated neighbourhood, you could do a lot worse.