the fat delicatessen, london sw12

why is it so tricky to find the perfect easy-lazy neighbourhood restaurant? by easy-lazy i mean the kind of place you can go to when you’re tired, need smile-inducing food served by a friendly face, in a place with the kind of energy that carries you towards relaxation and a willingness to face the world again.

the area of south london where i live is blessed with lots of good restaurants but i’ve yet to find this kind of place on my doorstep. thankfully, though, i’ve found exactly this not too far away (and it’s en route from the office so is just fine for stressful weekdays).

it’s in balham, it’s been there for almost a year (the anniversary of its opening is next month) and it’s called the fat delicatessen.

david and i called in on friday, after a trip to the cinema, as this delicatessen serves tapas into the evening. it was perfect.

our friendly waiter was perfectly content to chat and brought us a complementary dish of fried padron peppers with flakes of salt scattered over, happily telling david about them - these peppers are quite mild but 1 in 10 is hot so it’s a lottery eating them… he described it as being a bit like russian roulette!

the tapas were wonderful and we over-indulged. my favourite dishes were the confit belly pork served atop creamed rosemary fagioli (apparently these little beans are boiled with cream and rosemary for over an hour and a half), big fat gambas (prawns) with piquillo peppers, coriander, parsley and pedro ximenez vinegar (i mopped up every last drop of this sauce with pieces of variously flavoured breads) and the green bean and mushroom salad.

we also tried the tart of the day (taleggio, potato and mushroom, surprisingly light), clams with sherry and serrano ham (i have wanted to try this for a long time and it didn’t disappoint with its sweet salty taste of the sea) and baked aubergine with rocket & mozzarella (this was my least favourite dish as it was quite rich. or maybe i was just full – i didn’t get to it until the end of the meal).

we had all this with a lovely bottle of spanish albarino (it matched the spanish vibe of the food and music) and david finished off with a slice of santiago tart which was also wonderfully light.

the fat delicatessen is the kind of place that soothes the soul and i’ve already been in touch with a number of friends to plan their introduction and my revisit.

the fat delicatessen

7 chestnut grove, london SW12 8JA

tel: 020 8675 6174

opening hours: mon-wed: 8am-8pm; thur-sat: 1am-10pm; sun: 11am-6pm