Location, location, location.
We all know the importance of this even without listening to property gurus Kirstie and Phil bang on about it to hapless house-hunters all over the country. With a potential house purchase you’re probably wondering what the community is like, what your transport options are, whether the high street has a decent smattering of shops and if you’re like me, where the nearest supermarket is. I imagine it’s much the same when you’re looking for your restaurant location, though perhaps minus the supermarket worry. So when I arrived at Queenswood in Battersea Square, I was a little stumped. I don’t know the area well at all but looking around, I’m hoping the owners know more than I do because honestly, it feels like it’s in the middle of not much else.
To get there, we took a leisurely stroll from Clapham Junction which took just under 20 minutes, coming from Battersea Park station will take you closer to 30 minutes but I suppose there are bus options too. We’re just not really bus people, especially on a Friday evening during peak hour. At the Square there’s a handful of other restaurants, the most memorable being the rather swanky London House, one of the Gordon Ramsay empire which was reasonably busy, while the others were hardly occupied. This doesn’t feel like an area you stumble upon. So are these red flags or red herrings?
In Queenswood’s case, I really think it could be the latter. Every neighbourhood needs a local which dishes up quality food in an unpretentious, welcoming environment and fortunately for Battersea, this fits the bill nicely. The dining room is simply but trendily furnished, there’s a good looking bar with seats at the counter which I’m always a fan of, and it all feels very comfortable. As usual, we quickly found our table and started perusing the menu but unusually, we downed a shot of tequila before we even ordered anything… turns out we were sitting at the ‘special table’ under the specials board where each time something gets crossed off, you get a shot! Naturally I had to follow this with a cocktail…
The dinner menu was well varied; a good selection of vegetarian, fish, and meat dishes, including the grill specials on the board. What was also varied were the flavour influences. This I am less a fan of; fusion is fine but sometimes restaurants get a little trigger happy trying to fit every cuisine onto their menu and executing them poorly. I’d rather you gave me less choice and did it well than trying to cover all the bases… so how did they fare here?
After getting over the disappointment of the smoked duck breast being sold out, we settled on the galician octopus, squid tempura, and seaweed salad. Well duck, schmuck because these fishy dishes were a solid start. My favourite was the remarkably tender octopus, its delicately sweet flavour was by no means overpowered by the saffron potatoes. The squid was crisp and light, while the salad was flavoursome and surprisingly moreish, it’s the first seaweed salad I’d consider getting seconds of.
With these polished off, the efficient service made sure we didn’t wait long for the mains of cod supreme fillet, Indian spiced lamb chops with saffron rice, and sides of fries and roasted purple cauliflower. On first impressions, I can tell you now that cod is definitely not in the running for any ‘art of plating’ awards. I know, I know, not all food has to look pretty but a decent looking fillet flanked rather crudely by two spring roll monstrosities just does not scream ‘eat me’, and it’s plain unfair to the fish.
Upon closer inspection, the fish was well cooked but perhaps they were a little heavy handed with the mirin, sake and possibly sesame oil seasoning as it was all too overwhelming. My lamb on the other hand could have done with some heavy handed treatment, those cutlets were made to be bashed in the head with flavour. If you advertise Indian-spice on the menu, do it justice. That aside, they were lusciously pink and well complimented by the rice.
By now we’re full. If we’re being really truthful, we usually are after two courses- particularly when three starters are involved but my sweet tooth can rarely resist dessert. The one which caught my eye was a pineapple number but as with the duck dish, it was sold out. Cue disappointment which was quickly replaced with satisfaction as our second choice arrived- a perfectly airy chocolate souffle paired with a devilishly dark chocolate ganache. My slightly burnt tongue was a testament to its appeal and my fear that a certain someone would overscoop his share of the goods.
We visited Queenswood during its soft launch so they were still finding their feet, but all it really needed were some tweaks here and there. The food was good and I’m sure it will get better; if I’m ever in the neighbourhood again I’d be tempted with a second visit. If this is your neighbourhood, you’ve got no excuse, go and relish in the fact that you’ve got a pretty decent local.