1. La Gamba (Rebecca Dickson)
    Rebecca Dickson
  2. La gamba (Rebecca Dickson)
    Rebecca Dickson
  3. La Gamba (Rebecca Dickson)
    Rebecca Dickson
  4. La Gamba (Rebecca Dickson)
    Rebecca Dickson
  5. La Gamba (Rebecca Dickson)
    Rebecca Dickson
  • Restaurants | Spanish
  • price 2 of 4
  • South Bank
  • Recommended


La Gamba

3 out of 5 stars

A fish-first tapas restaurant with a Thames facing terrace by the Royal Festival Hall

Leonie Cooper

Time Out says

The South Bank has long been crying out for a primo restaurant. The short stretch between the rumble of wheels on concrete at the hallowed undercroft and the Hungerford Bridge has always seemed the perfect location for something special. You’ve got the Thames in actual spitting distance! Stately views of the comely backside of the Savoy, Cleopatra’s Needle and that building everyone thinks is MI5! Surely this is the perfect place to plonk a divine, gastronomic heavyweight? But instead, this particular chunk of the city is home to an inoffensive clutch of mid-range chains; Strada, Wagamama, Giraffe, Las Iguanas, and, naturally, a Pret. The kinds of places tourists might toddle into before an evening spent at the BFI, the RFH or the NT, nosh away at a katsu curry or serviceable margherita then instantly forget almost everything about it. 

Now, unto the breach, comes something that threatens to fill that gap; a Spanish-ish tapas joint from the brothers who run Applebee’s, a family fishmongers turned seafood resto that’s become part-and-parcel of nearby Borough Market’s foodie fabric. 

Fried potatoes with Iberico chorizo and jammy fried egg felt particularly decadent in the sun

In a spot previously occupied by Yo! Sushi and Pizza Pilgrims, La Gamba does very well at packing them in on a sunny weekday lunchtime. It’s not even 1pm yet and already big, fruit-packed jugs of sweet sangria – red, white and cava options – are being ferried out to tables on the slightly too tightly packed terrace. Sure, it’s nice to get everyone out in the breeze, but there’s something demoralising about having your arse graze the table next to yours if ever you need to move up from your seat. 

Food is as decent as every other decent tapas place in the city. Head chef Juan Cabarcos, who hails from the north-western Galician region of Spain, does a brisk trade in £6 servings of pan con tomate – which for an extra £4.50 you can have two slithers of salty anchovy coiled on the top. The house dish of gambas, king prawns cooked in olive oil, chilli and garlic, looked a treat, but neither chilli nor garlic delivered the spicy, fiery punch we craved. Better was the huevos rotos con chorizo, fried potatoes with Iberico chorizo and jammy fried egg, which felt particularly decadent in the sun, as well as a hefty portion of chipirones, light as anything deep fried baby squid in fluffy batter with a pungent pot of lemon alioli, and some beefy St Austell mussels cooked with yet more chorizo and albariño wine. Please do what we didn’t however, and remember to order the latter with bread in order to soak up the creamy, soup-like juice swimming around in the bottom of the dish. 

La Gamba might not be the valorous dining spot this location deserves, but in the middle of a warm London day, it feels kind of close.

The vibe It’s all about the outdoor terrace here at this tapas joint on an always-bustling stretch of London’s South Bank.  

The food Spanish flavours and lots and lots of seafood from the fish-focussed team behind the nearby Applebee’s. 

The drink Everyone’s on the sangria – we suggest you do the same. 

Time Out tip Go for lunch, score the sunniest table you can, and order anything cooked with chorizo.


Unit 3
Royal Festival Hall
Southbank Centre
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