Monday, 28 March 2011

Will New Oyster Bar Prove Battersea Is More Than Just A Dogs’ Home?

By Anastasia Hancock.

Battersea is famous for more than its Dogs’ Home and a big old power station. I should know, I live there. That’s the first thing everyone thinks of; which is all very tiresome.

So here are my top 5 facts you really should know about beautiful Battersea.

1) The first asparagus grown in Britain was in Battersea Park in 1850.
2) Battersea has produced an impressive number of famous children including Ronnie Biggs, Jack Dee, Bob Geldof, Simon Le Bon, Dannii Minogue, Gordon Ramsay, Joely Richardson, Greg Rusedski, Timothy Spall, Vivienne Westwood, William Wilberforce and even So Solid Crew.
3) Battersea was the first London borough to elect a black mayor in 1913.
4) The power station was featured on the cover of Pink Floyd’s iconic Animals album, and Battersea also features in songs by Morrissey, Babyshambles, and Super Furry Animals.
5) It is the home of London’s busiest heliport.

I hope if you’ve read this far, that you will agree with me that Battersea is brimming with Good Things.

This is certainly true of the area’s thriving bar and restaurant scene. I have ploughed an epic number of (wo)man hours into researching this. Conclusive evidence has proven that unrivalled hotspots include the fabulous and little-known La Movida, an authentic and incredibly good value tapas bar, Tom Illic, a well-disguised but unfailingly classy restaurant run by a talented Serbian head chef, and The Lost Angel, a late-night boozer with a secluded garden.

So when I heard there was a new brasserie opening in Battersea Square, it wasn’t exactly a new phenomenon, but I was looking forward to seeing what some fresh blood could offer the place.

The premise was certainly interesting; an oyster bar and brasserie complete with neighbourhood grocery and wine store opened by the brains behind the exclusive Cheyne Walk Brasserie and the operations director for Ronnie Scott’s. Yes, the names promised a lot, but did they deliver?
The restaurant itself is set out like a chic Parisian brasserie, and the crowd matched the setting. Battersea’s elite had turned out in force, and there was more than one TV foodie spotted on the night.
The focal point is the marble-topped oyster counter, which runs alongside the bar, and I lost no time getting stuck into the eponymous critters. They were, as you would expect from native crustaceans, fresh and delicious. It’s a shame the same couldn’t be said for some of the other canapés being served. While the shellfish, including some flavoursome prawns, lived up to the billing, the mini steak pies were dry even though the filling was encased in pastry verging on the undercooked. Plus, despite asking several times, we never did get to try the mini portions of fish and chips ostensibly doing the rounds.
It’s a big statement to open a place like this in a location like Battersea Square. The restaurant is considerable and boasts a botanical garden hosting year-round dining. If the management can keep the place full, then this could potentially be a buzzy, top-end destination restaurant. But the prices are prohibitively high for this to be an easy neighbourhood eatery and, if it remains this way, dining here is going to be a lonely experience. Hopefully the surrounding competition - found on all sides - will force the place to keep its game high.
Still, for wine lovers, this could be just what the area has been waiting for. As well as some delicious looking supplies from around the country, the shop adjoining the restaurant offers a wine store and enomatic dispenser, and there is also an extensive wine cellar and tasting area.
As I stepped back out into the lovely little square that houses Bennett’s, the party was still in full swing inside. And no wonder, champagne, wine and some stylish cocktails were fast flowing. I had tucked under my arm an excitingly large and heavy goody bag. I had hoped it might be crammed with an array of shellfish, but on closer inspection later that night it turned out to be filled with spuds and other root veg. Quirky.With the vast experience boasted by the management and some fine local suppliers, time should tell if Bennett’s goes on to claim a place on Battersea’s list of Good Things.

Looking for more Good Things in Battersea? Check out the Top 10 Bar & Restaurant guide.

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