Lola Rojo – London SW11
July 25, 2013 § Leave a comment
This modern Spanish restaurant and deli impresses, with delicious innovations and crowd-pleasing plates.
On a balmy summer mid-week evening, Northcote road is a delightful mish-mash of commuters scurrying home, post-work drinkers on their 3rd or 4th “quick pint”, and hopeful diners window-shopping along on the look-out for something appetising. Sadly, many of the latter group will be tempted in by one of the fairly average chain restaurants, incongruous to the numerous upmarket stores and cute independent antique shops, filled with knick knacks and shabby chic furnishings, that populate Northcote Road. However, should they hold out, and venture down past the big brands, inviting you in with ‘2 for 1 cocktails’ and overpriced burgers, they’ll find a handful of super local restaurants: Lola Rojo is just one of them.
The small, bright white, covered alfresco area wrapping around the front of this street-corner restaurant, with its bright red stools, makes Lola Roja an eye-catching and attractive option – the fact that most of the stools will probably be occupied if it is an evening to sit outside, is an immediate deterrent, but one that can be overcome. Peer inside and you will find an inviting, bright and fresh looking restaurant with a modern vibe and a friendly family feel that’s certainly worth giving a shot.
The menu is a bit of a bizarre mix of trendy, modern and innovative dishes, mixed with more traditional Spanish cooking. ‘Manchego cheese lolly pops’ (£2.8) weren’t my favourite but clearly a winning dish as almost every table had ordered the intriguing starter – the “lolly pops” of melted and reset crispy cheese were far too salty for me – whereas the ‘Crispy aubergine with orange blossom honey’ (£3) were delicious; crisp and well seasoned with a sweet orange blossom relish drizzled over the top. Interestingly the ‘Catalan bread with tomato’ (£2.6) appears to be supplied by the next door restaurant – the well-known pizza group Franca Manca, (which just opened another branch in Balham by the way). I say this without authority however the sourdough bread tasted remarkably familiar….
The ‘Mojama (Smoked dry tuna) with tomato dressing and olive oil’ (£9.5) is a dish I was very pleased to take a chance on as it was the highlight of the meal; the thinly sliced dry cured tuna taking on a flavour akin to dry cured meats, but much more subtle and all the better for it. And, when paired with the sourdough bread from next door, was deliciously moreish.
Lola Rojo is a neighbourhood gem and is very much worth the trek down Northcote Road, not least because you’ll escape from the rowdy drinkers who dominate the Clapham Junction area. Its relaxed buzz, fantastically flavoursome food and unusual dishes really do hit the mark and better yet won’t take a wad out of your wallet. If you’re craving a down market yet sophisticated evening of tasty tapas, this is the place for you.
Dinner for two: £48
Drinks: Bottle of wine from £16