Tooting is officially one of the coolest places on earth. That’s if the Lonely Planet is to be believed. Nestling alongside, Lisbon, Copenhagen, and Rio, there in all its glory is Tooting. Who would have thought it?!
I always loved Tooting for its multi-cultural charm. The sights, smells and sounds reminded me of the wonderful times I have spent in India, sourcing and developing beautiful hand-crafted product. One walk down Tooting High Road would transport me back to those fabulous days in New Dehli, working hard by day and partying just as hard by night! But it is what has happened in more recent years that has earned it its uber cool reputation.
The amount of time I spend there these days warrants lots of blog posts or at least, one the length of a book. For today though, having spent the last two Friday evenings there, I am going to focus on the restaurant that first introduced me to the new Tooting and remains one of my favourites: the Little Taperia.
What I love most about the Little Taperia is its all round authenticity. The food, the atmosphere and the friendly (often Spanish) staff, all combine together to make for a great experience that is so true to its roots. One of the things that always frustrates me about living in the UK is the lack of flavour in so much of the fresh produce found in our shops. Go to anywhere in mainland Europe and you can make a delicious meal out of the simplest things because their natural flavours are so spectacular. Not so, it seems, as soon as you cross the Channel…that is until I discovered the Little Taperia.
The menu is wide enough to suit all tastes and as always with tapas, designed for sharing and sampling lots of different things – my favourite way of eating. I always struggle to stick to my target number of dishes. My new strategy is to wait for whoever is with me to choose theirs in the hope that there might be some crossover allowing me to widen my selection! Once ordered, in true tapas style, the dishes arrive as soon as they are ready meaning that the food is fresh from the kitchen with no sitting around waiting for other things to be ready. The lovely flavours waft invitingly around leaving you with no time to waste.
It is hard to recommend a particular dish as I have never really had a bad one but I think the spinach with pine nuts and raisins deserves a mention, as do the very authentic tortillas (served runny in the middle as per tradition unless you instruct otherwise), the croquettes and the cheese plate which is very generous compared to some I have seen.
The drinks menu has a similar amount of choice with a good selection of sherries (obviously!) beers and wines…oh and the cocktails. Not traditionally a cocktail drinker this would not normally be something I would be interested in but since my Espresso Martini discovery, it is the first thing I look for. I can confirm that they are indeed featured!
If you are looking for a quiet dinner this is probably not the place for you. But if you are after a fun, lively, authentic Spanish experience then this is it. You need to book though because like me, lost of other people have discovered the secret of what I think is the best tapas this side of Madrid. Enjoy!