Mediterranean dining in South West London and Surrey
MEDITERRANEAN DINING IN SOUTH WEST LONDON AND SURREY
EAT YOUR WAY AROUND THE MEDITERRANEAN BASIN AT THESE TOP LOCAL SOUTH WEST LONDON AND SURREY DINING SPOTS.
Top image: Lobster Thermidor, Gazette Trinity
Words: Imogen Willis
If you’re missing a sun-drenched holiday in the Med this year, you can still get your fix of garlicky prawns, pizzas and relaxing terrace suntraps with a culinary road trip around these fantastic local restaurants, serving flavours of the Mediterranean basin from Southern Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean and North Africa.
THE LITTLE TAPERIA
This green fronted gem round the corner from Tooting Broadway station brings an innovative take on Iberian tapas to the local area. Inside is a cosy, rustic interior, where you can eat either perched by the marble counter for a mid-week catch up over small plates and a glass of rioja, or at tables for more relaxed dining. Six dishes are recommended to share between two which gives you plenty of opportunity to try the delicious array of tapas on offer. The quails’ egg Morcilla scotch egg with piquillo pepper chutney offers a new take on tapas dishes, whilst the whole shell king prawns in garlic rival those fresh from the Mediterranean Sea in Barcelona or Valencia.
Take a walk on the adventurous side at this authentic French Brasserie overlooking Wandsworth Common. The airy garden Brasserie set back from the main road has all the quaint organic charm of a Renoir luncheon painting. Set in a greenhouse with wood panelled walls, green and white interiors, each plate is a splash of colour with garden flowers garnishing French delicacies such as snails, beef tartare and frogs’ legs alongside Mediterranean style dishes including goat’s cheese crottin and Lobster, which is served every Thursday as part of their lobster club. When visiting, make sure to try their house rosé, Côtes de Provence made exclusively for the restaurant using Grenache Noir & Syrah grapes by a prize-winning Vineyard in Provence.
Born from the kitchens of the owner’s mother who enjoyed cooking with friends in the 80’s, Ciullõsteria on Balham High Road offers Southern Italian dining with a home cooked friendly feel. Their menu includes hand-made pasta and thin crispy 12-inch pizzas with all the flavours of the Amalfi Coast. There is a light, windowed front with al fresco seating, or a cosy interior at the back for warm comfortable dining on colder English summer days.
Wandsworth and Balham (coming soon!)
Nestled on the pedestrianised Old York Road, find Zia Lucia, a neighbourhood pizzeria chain, reinventing pizza from the base upwards. For a fun take on a well-known classic try their statement charcoal base or exciting toppings, including creamy orbs of burrata and truffle oil. The Italian founders Gianluca and Claudio are passionate about bringing the inclusivity of Italian hospitality to the local area, branching out to a new Balham restaurant opening in August. This is perfect for those looking for the feel-good easy flavours of an Italian family holiday, with green outdoor seating for sunny evenings.
THE FRENCH TABLE
Sarah and Eric Guignard are the minds behind this wonderful contemporary French restaurant celebrating their 20th year this summer. Located in leafy Surbiton, The French Table works with seasonal ingredients from top independent suppliers, sourcing the finest from meat, fish and vegetables and developing dishes from these. Choose from their wonderful lunch and dinner menus or partake in a 5-course tasting menu with a flight of wines to pair. If you want total immersion in French dining, The French Table also offer breakfast on the first Saturday of each month, so you can eat every meal continental style.
AYA LEBANESE CUISINE
South Wimbledon, Colliers Wood, Streatham and Sutton
Served with enthusiasm and energy, everything on the Aya menu is full of Eastern Mediterranean flavours which have won them respect and praise, winning the Merton Chamber of Commerce awards for ‘Best Restaurant’ in 2019. Step inside and take in the decor, reminiscent of a traditional home in Beirut with tables and chairs handmade and imported from Lebanon. Begin your meal with an array of hot and cold mezzas alongside Aya’s warm bread, such as baba ganouj dip made with slow-cooked smoky aubergine, or tabbouleh packed with freshly cut herbs and lemon. The hearty centre of the meal is the mixed grill, a laden fare of meat that pairs well with the fresh flavours of the salads and dips. However, if you’re all grilled out from summer BBQing, their home cooked dishes and vegan options are equally delicious and filling. Finish the meal with a sweet bite of baklawa washed down with a soothing cup of Lebanese tea.
GALU MEDITERRANEAN BAR & GRILL
Instead of championing one cuisine, Galu Mediterranean Bar & Grill offers token dishes from multiple countries. The grill is undoubtedly at the heart of the restaurant, and you can spectate the sights and sounds of your food being prepared from the open view kitchen, or perch at the bar sharing Greek snacks over a drink or two. If it pleases, you can dance between two countries with offerings of Italian pasta and risotto, Greek mezze sharing platters and Cypriot Souvlaki to enjoy, either in their stone interior or from the al fresco seating area overlooking The Nork.
Near to the royal quarters of Henry VIII this Lebanese restaurant offers all the delicious flavours of Eastern Mediterranean dining in a fine setting. The large windows at the front allow light to pour into the front, creating light and space for wining and dining. Makes sure to try their delicious offerings of Lebanese wines, or visit their sister restaurant down the road, Mezzet Dar, for lighter bites in the form of Lebanese-Spanish fusion tapas dishes.
Step into Khamsa for a taste of Algeria. Specialising in tagines seasoned with North African spices such as harissa, paprika and ras el hanout alongside homemade hand rolled couscous. The interiors are ornate and low lit with colourful pillows, lanterns, and rugs, creating cosy corners to enjoy the tastes and atmosphere of the restaurant. For those who fancy a tipple Khamsa is also BYO so you can bring along a bottle of Syrah which pairs well with North African cuisine.
Enter Morocco, where the flavours of the Mediterranean meet the Sahara, at Tagine in Balham. Enjoy the restaurant’s namesake dish from traditional Moroccan clay pots, and take in the eye-catching interiors as you sit beneath colourful hanging lights. Further than tagines, there are a wide variety of Moroccan dishes on offer, with plenty of selection for vegetarians and a delightful dessert menu. Share a pot of Moroccan mint tea or enjoy flavoursome fruit cocktails, with tastes of mango, kiwi and ginger.
Heating up the BBQ? Check out this guide to your new favourite local butcher: