We sent Nicola Millbank to sample some new, authentic Spanish food at Palomas in Wandsworth and she gives her verdict
Tapas remains a contradictory concept here in London. We Brits have adopted the fashion as a sit-down meal, rather than, in Spain, a standing up and on the go accompaniment to a red wine or five; for one thing, it’s not necessarily the most balanced way to put together a meal. Paloma’s Tapas and Cocktail bar is new to Wandsworth Common serving up a mixture of quintessentially Spanish Tapas and a vast array of drinks. Try not to judge a book by its cover in this instance for Paloma’s is more innocent than its red light district, reclaimed interior might suggest.
The service is friendly and the food is good, not least of which offering something different to the contradictory offerings nearby of Michelin star dining or pizza. We skipped the more predictable choices in favour of something a little different. The Scallops a la Plancha with celeriac mash, crispy ham and chilli sauce were spot on. Cooked perfectly, the scallops were caramelised and crispy on the outside and remained soft and subtly underdone in the middle. Teamed with the crispy ham and celeriac mash this was a cracking contrast of sweet and salty.
The Gambas Al Ajillo, chilli and garlic prawns were juicy and crammed with flavour; a rather frugal potion for the price so this dish best serves one per person but tastes fantastic nonetheless. Forget the Patatas Bravas and go for the pardon peppers, charred and scattered in sea salt. One in every handful is very hot; we lucked out … this time.
Onto the meat and we order Albondigas Caseras, meatballs in a spicy tomato sauce and Croquetas de Jamon, cured ham croquettes. For one thing the sauce with the meatballs was delicious, best served slathered over the bread as the meatballs were regrettably dry, a shame as the flavours were there. The croquettes on the other hand were superb, outweighing the many coquette attempts I’ve had in the UK. Soft and velvety on the inside and encased the crispest shell of breadcrumbs. The presentation is rather elegant too; Paloma’s would do good of a presenting all of their dishes similar to the scallops and croquettes, aesthetically taking it to a more superior level.
There’s a large selection of Spanish hams but what makes Paloma’s different is the additional choice of British hams which are all ethically and sustainably sourced. We tried the Spanish Jamon Serrano, 18 month cured Gran Reserva ham, it’s salty and earthy but mellow, a lovely accompaniment to the meal. We also tried the Traditional Catalan Flan for pudding. Think an aerated and set creme caramel that hasn’t been turned out. This was creamy and delicious and sitting on a sweet but better caramel sauce, a must-try. For those of an after-dinner martini disposition the cocktail menu is extensive and sympathetically priced for London, offering martini, champagne, long and short cocktails.
Paloma’s lends itself to informal dining with finesse. Perhaps not a candidate for a romantic Valentine’s Day dinner it does, however, appeal to informal parties after authentic Spanish food at a reasonable price. If you fancy trying a wide range of interesting dishes whilst being looked after by a knowledgeable and friendly team, then Paloma’s is well worth a visit.
216 Trinity Road, Wandsworth Common, SW17 7HP
020 8767 3339
For more by Nicola Millbank visit www.millycookbook.com