Boqueria Market: Jerez meets Barcelona in Battersea
When I’m working in London I always try to check out somewhere new to eat or drink. The new Boqueria Market opened in April this year, and is just across the river from where I stay when I’m in the big smoke. I’m not sure why it’s taken me 3 months to get around to it, but last Wednesday I finally paid them a visit.
Like so many new bar and restaurant venues, this place used to be a bank. All vestiges of traditional decor are gone though, replaced by a clean, slightly industrial look. It’s the second venture from the Boqueria team, who also have a tapas bar of the same name in Brixton.
I had already booked my table at Boqueria, but on the day in question I got great news – I had passed my Wines and Spirits Education Trust (WSET) level 3 with a distinction. That warranted a celebration! Fortunately Boqueria’s sherry list, mainly from Gonzalez Byass gave me plenty of scope to toast my success!
The changing flavours of Tio Pepe En Rama
I started with Tio Pepe En Rama. Ruben at SherryNotes and I had been speculating about how the En Rama might develop over a few months, and this gave me the perfect opportunity to find out. It was bottled about 2 weeks after Boqueria opened, so had spent about 2 1/2 months in the bottle. It had indeed developed, with lovely honeyed and floral notes that I hadn’t detected when I tasted it three weeks after bottling. It retained the roundedness that was there from the beginning, and left a briny, lemony tang on the tip of my tongue.
And then…. some tapas
Boqueria’s tapas list was fairly extensive with a good selection of old favourites and some modern interpretations of the classics. It was a hot and muggy evening, so I reluctantly passed on the Carillada and the Presa Iberica in a goat’s cheese and truffle sauce. This gives me an excuse to go back in the winter too!
I started off with some pan con tomate – a catalan staple so often ruined by misinterpretation. This one was a little overloaded with tomato, compared to the real thing, BUT the toasted xapata bread base was nice and crispy, and when I took a bite I was instantly back in Barcelona. I had moved on to drinking Leonor Palo Cortado by now. Aah, my old friend Palo Cortado – aromas of furniture polish, resin and hazelnuts transporting me to Jerez. Now I was in two places at once – Barcelona and Jerez!
I also had some croquetas de pollo y jamon with the Leonor, which was a great pairing. The croquetas were firm inside and didn’t commit the common croqueta crime of too much bechamel and not enough meat. These were meaty, flavoursome and tasted of ham and chicken, not of the dreaded nutmeg. Delicious – I hoovered them up in short order!
The grand finale: burgers
Burgers? Yes, a pair of tiny beefburgers recommended by my waiter – these were in equally tiny crispy rolls, and dressed with onions caramelised in PX. They came with a few straw potatoes on a slate – beautifully presented, but how did they taste? First of all, the smell. I wish I could have photographed the smell – so savoury it just made my mouth water. The burgers themselves were well seasoned with a good beefy flavour and VERY juicy! The PX-caramelised onions provided a little sweetness to cut through all that macho beefiness. Those onions are on my home cooking to-do list now! The straw potatoes looked pretty, but let’s face it the burgers were the main event. I crunched on a couple and left it at that. I paired them with Alfonso Oloroso, a lovely dry mouthful of roasted nuts and lemon zest, with aromas of burnt caramel and nuts. It was robust enough to stand up against the burgers.
After this feast, I wasn’t strong enough for dessert. In fact, I was thankful I had a mile to walk back to the flat to try and work some of it off! The tapas were good, the atmosphere relaxed and friendly, the service great. And of course there’s the sherry. They have a good list, with one of everything. If you want to drink sherry south of the river, whilst watching the world go by, this is definitely the place to do it.
280 Queenstown Rd