BY PALOMA LACY
Streatham dwellers were pleased to welcome neighbourhood restaurant SW16 Bar & Kitchen last autumn.
Further lockdowns and on-going restrictions saw tough times, surviving on a takeaway collection service of fresh pasta, which thankfully proved popular.
Open for in-dining since mid-May, the restaurant has quickly built a loyal following, no doubt as a result of the strong team put in place.
General manager Jenni, head chef Antonio and a handful of others come with lots of big brand restaurant and hotel experience, enabling them to provide high end service.
The existence of SW16 Bar & Kitchen means that diners don’t have to travel into the centre of town for that special meal and equally, every day meals can also be taken here.
The cocktail list is the finest I’d seen in a while, with inclusion of Rum Rookery, named after local beauty spot, adding to its charm.
But the silent yet deadly Breakfast Martini was my favourite – utterly smooth, refreshing before the warm glow of alcohol jumps up at you.
Having visited twice in the past month, I have nominated it my neighbourhood restaurant of choice. I love that families are most welcome – not so in all restaurants – but here little people most certainly are.
It’s a mixed crowd here, an eclectic mix of parents and children (even grown up ones dining with much-missed parents who live outside London), mummies and those in their 20s and 30s supping cocktails.
All life is here. As with all solid neighbourhood restaurants, it’s open from 10am for brunch and there seems to have been a particular stampede for weekend brunch of late.
Halloumi and Portabello mushroom brioche bun served with tomato chutney sounded rather good and a reason to return.
The informal nature of the Mediterranean menu lends itself to sharing small plates as starters at lunch or dinner.
In fact, during my third visit, I’ll forget about the main course all together and it’ll be an adults-only affair consisting of all the starters and much of the cocktail list, shared between two.
Please note, this is not to be disparaging of the main course choices but simply because starters are my thing.
The menu changes regularly, keeping the most popular dishes, and I just pray that these have remained when I’m next there.
Fresh anchovies, burrata and tomato salad, beet babaga-noush and house-made sourdough focaccia were all beautifully prepared and eaten with great gusto. Probably just one more dish would be needed to make a complete meal next time.
Fresh pasta looms large on the mains, with tagliatelle, spaghetti, orrechiette all made under the watchful eye of Italian native, Antonio.
Aubergine ravioli, with butter emulsion, tomato concasse, and sunflower seeds, caught my eye, attracted by the flavour combination.
As is usually the way, the list of mains is usually finished off with a meat, and a fish dish.
At the moment, that’s grilled bavette steak, rocket panzanella salad and N’duja hollandaise, and pan-fried sea bream, romanesco sauce, rainbow chard, grilled spring onions, pickled mussels and hazlenuts.
Sunday roast was trialled on Father’s Day but executed with Italian panache – Dingley Dell slow roasted pochetta, served with sautéed rainbow chard, garlic and lemon, herb roasted potatoes with beef dripping, carrots, apple sauce, and lashings of black garlic and wine jus.
5 Streatham High Rd, London, SW16 1EF.
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