I was seeing Mirna off to the airport two Fridays ago and we had lunch together near her flat, well, her former flat, in Bermondsey. I’m not often out of the South Kensington area on weekday lunchtimes and so took advantage of this rare opportunity! The restaurant we couldn’t get into a few days prior was Zucca and so visiting its sister restaurant, Maltings Cafe, which is only open for lunch on weekdays, made up for the original disappointment. I’d originally read about both restaurants over on Ibrahim’s blog and he raves about the quality and simplicity of the Italian/Mediterranean food on offer at both places.
We were the first to arrive that Friday at noon and it stayed quiet until 1pm, peak lunch rush hour. The cafe is bright and airy and the only menu there is on the chalkboard pictured above. I love that their menu is small and compact – one side dish, one pasta, one meat, one fish, two desserts – and it changes daily, I believe. We ordered one of everything except the fish that day to taste as much as we could without feeling ill at the end. And thumbs up to the way they handled tap water requests – a carafe was brought out immediately. As well, a good sized basket of bread was plonked down along with some olive oil after we ordered; it felt like we were lunching in continental Europe.
The penne with fennel ragu and parmesan (£5.50) was very well cooked pasta with a simple tomato sauce flecked with pieces of braised fennel. I never thought fennel would work so well with pasta but hey, here’s proof!
The roasted leg of lamb with Mediterranean cous-cous (£7.95) was six slices of tender roast lamb served on top of a mound of couscous mixed with roast vegetables. The serving was very generous and delicious too.
The side dish of braised butter beans with parsley and chilli was originally priced at £7.95, which gave us a bit of a heart attack at the beginning, but that was corrected to £2.50 after we exclaimed that these must be some amazing beans! But actually, they were very nice indeed and definitely worth having alongside your main dishes. The remaining sauce was wiped up with our bread.
We didn’t over order as we wanted to save space for desserts (£2.95 each) and we were glad we did: they were outstanding in their simplicity. The home-made pavlova with blueberry compote and cream was my favourite – it was crusty outside and perfectly chewy and marshmallowy inside with a good heap of lightly stewed blueberries and a dollop of thick cream sitting alongside.
Mirna’s favourite was the equally excellent raspberry, polenta, and honey cake with its slightly gritty texture and the plump raspberries within. It too was topped with that amazingly thick cream.
The grand total: £21.85. Yes, this is seriously good value for such an excellent meal. Hey, Maltings Cafe, could you please open a cafe out west?
169 Tower Bridge Rd
London SE1 3NA
Right, I’m off for the week! I should be back with some posts on Singapore eating!