Source in Battersea
Battersea’s Source’s motto “simple, seasonal, social” is emblazoned on their select menu, which is devised by chef Matt Tarantini. The pared-back cuisine is simple and seasonal: modern English fare with Mediterranean inflections. The fact that three hours zipped by with ease speaks for the social element. The space is curiously welcoming for all its industrial touches of exposed wood, concrete and light bulbs. The clientele (from city boys whose faces blazed with excess, to glamorous foodie couples and older, well-spoken groups of friends) all appeared happy and sated.
We were served by impeccable Swedish manager Johan, who was only too happy to recommend his favourite dishes with accompanying wines.
For starters, there was baked celeriac, kale, red quinoa, with horseradish and rocket pesto that was zesty and filled with natural umami. The substantial centre of the dish, the celeriac, had been baked to perfection with an element of citrus and a soaking of pesto. This was clever vegetarian cooking.
A salad of Cornish white crab, fennel, radish, ras el hanout and croutons was bright and fresh with a tangy zing. In the interests of balanced journalism (read: greed) we asked to try another starter that really stood out: artichoke heart gratin with Comté cheese. The earthy indulgence of artichoke hearts swam in a delicious sea of cream with a chewy disc of melted cheese perched on top. Definitely the best starter and one of the most unctuous, moreish plates of the evening. The starters were washed down with Homer Riesling 2014, a fresh white from New Zealand.
After the gluttonous starter marathon, the mains were almost superfluous. Wild garlic tagliatelle with peas, courgettes, dried tomatoes and lardo felt lacklustre compared to what went before and after, with no discernible garlic flavour, heavy-handed seasoning and a slightly glutinous texture to the pasta. That said, it was still tasty and had charming bursts of sunshine sweetness in the dried heritage cherry tomatoes and fresh peas.
Daphne’s lamb, with aubergine caponata, Pink Fir Apple potatoes and ricotta, was excellent; the plate was studded with fried caper morsels and the meat was served rarer than expected to highlight the quality – a hearty dish offset with the delicacy of ricotta. The mains were accompanied by the punchy, smoky hit of Spain’s Santiago Rioja Crianza.
Now onto the fun and exciting desserts. Croissant Ice Cream, Hibiscus Jelly, Cranberries did what it said on the tin, in that it was an ice cream that tasted of croissants – buttery layers of the world’s favourite crescent-shaped pastry transported into an indecently creamy dessert. Chocolate torte with bay leaf ice cream also proved memorable. The ice cream added a herby, aromatic element, reminiscent of the way spice is used in Indian sweets, but with a quintessential English flavour. Paired with the dense, bitter chocolate and the smoky roast of the almond garnish, this was seriously sophisticated afters. The desserts were set off by Bernkasteler Badstube Joh Jos Prism, a German dessert wine with a robust sweetness, almost fizzy on the palate.
Although Source is not re-inventing the wheel, what it does, it does very well. The staff are welcoming, the food is delicious with enough innovation to set it apart. The dishes not tasted, among them sweet potato gnocchi and Earl Grey crème brûlée, may well warrant another trip.
★★★★★Food ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Drinks ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮Service ▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮▮
Photos: Matthew Pull
To book a table at Source, Unit 29, Ransome’s Dock, 35-37 Parkgate Road, Battersea, London SW11 4NP, call 020 7350 0555 or visit here.