The Little Taperia
A restaurant review.
This is a real place. In London. FYI.
It’s eight-thirty PM and we have stumbled across ‘The Little Taperia’ in the outskirts of Tooting Broadway. This, bear in mind, is me frantically channeling any shades of Anthony Bourdain deep inside me. It’s a phase, probably, hopefully just a fleeting one. One that obsesses over certain personalities — usually outlaws, creatives, or just simply wild people.
So it was apt that we ended up here — a real Bourdain-esque restaurant. The tapas format perfectly mirroring sequence after sequence of Parts Unknown, where esteemed guests and overly professional waiters present rather exotic dishes before the great writer-come-food-critic.
At first, it was not clear what we should be expecting. ‘Taperia’ sounded Italian, indeed that’s what we were expecting. So, at an already late hour, at least by British standards, we took a seat outside on the promise of a table when one becomes available, which, in our hangry states, seemed ages away.
We shouldn’t have feared, for within the minute we were ushered through three dining rooms in the sprawling café to a rather romantic, quaint spot at the back. The place was beginning to prove deceptive. From the outside, a small, nice, corner café was fast becoming a place that we scold ourselves for not knowing about before. One of London’s many well-kept secrets. The middle room, on passing, was split between diners and chefs — you could see the latter in the act. This brings an extra expectation of quality — surely, if chefs don’t mind being watched, they are happy with what they serve up. A good sign.
There is something captivating about Twilight — we notice, with a reluctant acceptance, that the day is drawing to a close but that the sun ain’t going down very acceptingly. When this natural phenomenon co-mingles with the low-ceilinged, dimmed yellow lights of a small restaurant, the resulting cozy atmosphere relaxes even the most ardent of Brexiteers.
Or most, at least. Despite our neighbor’s frequent howls about the state of British politics, with an arrogance that, presumably unbeknownst to him, is well recognized outside of London, we were perfectly calm when presented with our first plate of croquettes. And my first time trying them — hunger is surely the best cure for fussy eaters. It won’t be my last time either and just like the restaurant itself, I chastise myself for not knowing about them before.
Having initially balked at a half-Spanish menu that looked like it only served fish, the arrival of grilled lamb cutlets and a very steaky looking tender pork, and barbequed chicken skewers, confirmed that we were looking at real quality. Indeed, it was because of this giddiness that ‘chocolate pot’ and traditional Spanish Sangria cocktails were ordered.
The takeaway, if there is to be any, is this: Bourdain was right about travel, make sure you don’t fill out your itinerary completely. Leave some things to chance and see where it takes you. You might, rather than sticking to a rigid plan of being at a prominent Italian chain restaurant by a certain time, find yourself in an unknown gem that will teach you what social media addicted teenagers most often feel — a need to share with the world what you are currently experiencing.
The Little Taperia does just that.