Lola Roja, Battersea

  • DATE #75
  • Written by Emily Eaves (Guest Author)
  • 6 years ago
Spanish fare south of the river

The Vibe

Wander along the Northcote Road and you’ll pass an endless procession of gastro pubs and trendy wine bars. Like the pink-shirted bodies within them, they gradually begin to all look the same, the chain only broken when you stumble upon this discreet corner, positively buzzing with the amorous lustfulness of a night in Seville. Outside Lola Roja, the bar stools are packed with a sophisticated crowd – a complete mix, from women wearing wedges and dripping with jewellery to men in shorts and boat shoes, and the occasional child (belonging to a Spanish parent who refuses to accept that English kids go to bed about 7 hours before theirs do). Inside, the décor is unique– the floor, tables and chairs are stark and white whilst the walls are splashed red with framed portraits of faces that look like they’ve emerged from an Almodovar film.

The Order

New Spanish cooking – Cocina Nueva (think El Bulli and Arzak) – appears in full force on the menu here. It’s an extensive menu so order some Crispy Aubergine or Manchego Cheese and take your time to read through everything on offer. The classics are still there – cheesy croquetas, Gazpacho and the like – but try not to play it too safe and ask your waiter (all of them reassuringly and authentically of Spanish breeding) for suggestions and combinations. The selection of cured meats is delicious and perfect for sharing if you then want to go onto split a paella (go for the black rice with squid and saffron aioli on visuals alone). Otherwise order 3-4 tapas each without missing the Pork Loin, Grilled Octopus or Chorizo with Quince. If you’re still hungry, the desserts here are stunning – both the Crema Catalunya or the mix of sorbets are light and ideal for sharing. The wine list is extensive with an excellent selection of Spanish varieties, or you can embrace the experience and order a carafe of Cava Sangria.

The Game

Choose a non-rainy day to go as a drink outside really does whet your appetite and you become absorbed in the place and the people. Seating options inside are varied so it’s worth specifying your wishes upon making a reservation – the back is far more romantically lit and has smaller tables dividing you from the groups of girlfriends or family reunions, and there are several private tables of two dotted cleverly in alcoves. You’ll probably drink a surprisingly large amount here (even the glasses of wine are generously poured) without entirely realising it so expect to get swept up in it all and stay for hours.

The Faults

The outside bar gets really busy on a warm evening and you can’t book. Standard.

Sex Factor

4. You’ll sashay out of there feeling convinced you’ve been transformed into olive skinned beauties, desperate to stay up all night and scornful of the pale English yuppies heading home to their beds.

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