Lucy Self heads south to Battersea and finds a brand new pub with plenty to talk about, The Latchmere.
Cook up a storm with this fiery chicken tostadas recipe!
We’re often asked how to keep up with fresh foodie happenings in our capital. Brilliantly written lifestyle sites help (wink), but basically keeping abreast of all that is new and nibble-worthy comes down to recommendations. The hard-hitting, centre-dwelling big guns are easy (they have pre-opening hype and PR agencies to get the word out) but the smaller guys, the ones doing lovely things in London’s many burbs, are regularly forced to rely on word of mouth.
It was via this medium that we first learnt of the Renaissance Group; when a well-travelled food writer friend told us his go-to-eatery is The Abbeville in Clapham (a split-leveled pub/restaurant on Abbeville Road with oodles of charm and one of six the group own across South London). Founded by friendship trio Tom Peake, Mark Reynolds and Nick Fox – Renaissance venues are known on this side of the river for their elegantly dressed boozers with plenty of tasty food and drink. Having visited most of them (apart from The Abbeville, we have a real soft spot for The Avalon’s posh garden in summer), we were pleased as punch to learn of new addition, The Latchmere.
Located in a thoroughly shined-up site on Battersea Park Road, The Latchmere pretty much follows the same agreeable formula as the other Renaissance venues – with a few design touches of their own to keep things interesting (we loved the classic green pub tiles, mustard yellow walls and imposing dark wood bar). The huge room is split into restaurant-style seating and more casual spots for drinkers. And there’s also a pretty outside area with covered banquette seating around the edge for the times when the English summer is, well, the English summer.
The menu attempts to scale the more ambitious heights of gastro pub fare and mostly succeeds. Our crisp-edged scotch egg was suitably liquid to its core, and made more appealing by the addition of peppery black pudding. Better still, was a salad of crisp cubes of halloumi faintly flecked with Ras el hanout, toasted quinoa and bright bursts of sweet watermelon. As anyone who has watched Masterchef will know, fruit in a savoury dish can be a risky and often unrewarding folly – but the chef here has the textures and flavours spot on.
With eight well-written mains (we’d like to come back and try the sea bass with ‘chorizo crumble’) and a selection of meat-focused options “From The Board” – there’s plenty of choice. We opted for three incarnations of pork – a burnished square of belly, stuffed round of pink tenderloin and golden croquette stuffed with soft strands of rib meat; and the 28-day-aged rump steak. The former was a grand idea executed with evident skill, though there could be a few tweaks with the cooking times (the loin and belly a little less, and the rib a little more). The steak was seared and rested properly, but could have done with a touch more seasoning. NB: when your steak is sourced impeccably from Locks Drove Farm, it’s a crime to not bring out the best in it.
We finished with the lightest of cheesecakes flavoured lavishly with lemon and ginger and an-even-more-summery (and pleasingly wobbly) elderflower pannacotta topped with punchy chunks of poached rhubarb.
Like all the best local joints, The Latchmere gives its locals plenty of reasons to return – a clever menu of reworked pub classics, a natty interior which is special enough for dinner but casual enough for off-the-cuff drinks, plenty of artisan brands (we were offered at least five choice gins for our pre-dinner G&T’s) and that all-important outside space for summer. And, if the fact that we’ve told our foodie friend to go and try it as soon as he possibly can is anything to go on, they’ve got the word of mouth factor down too.
For more information visit thelatchmere.co.uk