Last summer whilst on a stag party, I was asked what I thought was a very interesting question. No put your dirty minds away, it wasn’t that sort of question… even if it might have been that sort of stag party.
I was asked if I thought Spanish or Italian food was better.
Interesting isn’t it?
When you look back, say about 10 years or so, this is a question which wouldn’t have arisen. Spanish food wasn’t very mainstream, you’d have been most likely to encounter it somewhere like La Tasca or a hole in the wall tapas bar that was more or less an excuse for a late licence. Italian food though was popular and covered the social spectrum from 20 minute homemade spag bog to Knightsbridge restaurants for super models.
Since then we have seen the rise of Spain as perhaps THE destination for serious foodies. Even with the passing of El Bulli, Spain now seems to have more than its fair share of the best restaurants in the world. Nowadays it is much more debatable about which is Britain’s favourite Mediterranean cuisine, and just now its Spanish food that is making the running.
Anyway enough of that, what of Paloma’s where my friend, the fastidious foodie (FF) and I had been invited to sample their menu. The restaurant is situated on the row of eateries that decorate the stretch of Trinity road leading up to the corner of Bellevue road as you approach Wandsworth Common from the south.
There has been a bevy of dining establishments there for as long as I can remember, and in fact Paloma’s is situated in the same building that once housed the Indian Ocean before it moved slightly further down the road. The interior is spacious and clean, with a more informal bar like area at the front with the restaurant area proper towards the back. It was rather quiet when we arrived, which isn’t unusual for midweek in January, so me and the FF asked to be seated in the bar area so as to encourage passing trade to come in. To make it clear we had been invited by Paloma’s to sample their menu, and so in order to do this fairly we asked them bring us a selection of what they thought they do best.
We started with a choice of hams, Serrano and Lomo Iberico. This wasn’t to be honest a test so much of the chef but of the provenance of the ingredients. Here I am pleased to say they passed with flying colours. The Serrano was good, with a salty but subtle flavour, it was however the Lomo Iberico that took the medal being one of the best that either me or the FF had ever tried.
The toasted bread that was served with the hams was a highlight in itself and went very well with the next dishes where we moved from the farm to the coast. The prawns when they arrived were plump and fresh with a slight taste of anise which I thought were delicious. The octopus though, whilst again being sweet and fresh was also I felt rather bland, which was a pity. Following this we had some ham croquettes, which I have to say were one of the highlights for me. A great combo of ham and cheese flavours and well presented.
Next up we had chorizo in red wine, where the octopus had been bland these seemed to burst with flavour and I rapidly tried to outdo my dining companion in eating them. Arriving around about the same time were some meatballs and the potato dishes, the Patatas Bravas and the Tortilla.
The meatballs were good, flavourful and served with a great sauce. The Tortilla was light and tasty. The Patatas Bravas though I felt were just that, nothing wrong with them but perhaps didn’t stand out like the other dishes did.
By this time I was perhaps reaching the limit of what I could consume in one sitting. This hadn’t been helped by the fact that I’d ordered a bottle of wine before realizing that my companion was sticking on beer. Not wanting to waste anything I’d manfully tried to drink as much of this as I could, something that was probably painfully apparent to the chef when he came to say hello.
Talking us through the menu he mentioned that they were one of the few places to offer British charcuterie, which I thought was interesting. Despite the fact that at this point I probably was more ham than man I wanted to try this. I’m glad I did, the flavours are certainly distinct from the Spanish and the rosemary salami was great, bringing a distinctly British twist to a continental favourite.
So what do I think in summary? No doubt about the food was good, and in parts much better than that. A few niggles from me however, I liked the fact that the menu was simple, but it for my taste could have had a little bit more variety. I also think a bit more could be done with the bar area. If you look at the success of the little taperia not far down the road in Tooting you can see that there is demand for good Spanish food in the area, and perhaps in slightly more casual surroundings.
Our bill when it came would have been about £100 for the two of us, which however is rather more than I would expect the casual punter to spend as we had asked to try nearly everything. Speaking to the owner since she has suggested that generally you would look to spend about £35 per head for a meal with drinks which to me sounds much more likely.
All in all Paloma’s is a welcome addition to the Wandsworth Common dining scene. I wish them all the best and look forward to sampling their wares again soon.
216 Trinity Road,