The queues outside Padella tell their own tale: within minutes of the lunchtime doors opening the place is crammed, yet the lines still form on Southwark Street. It’s a small space, with diners sitting up on kitchen-front stools and at marble ledges in the window, with another room below.
The menu is compact: five antipasti, seven mains. Borlotti beans on sourdough toast are dressed with salsa rossa, a jolt of vivid red heat against the creamy pulses. It’s baked beans, Jim, but not as we know it.
A milky burrata is presented just with a few good glugs of fruity olive oil and a coarse, liberal grinding of black pepper. Simplicity is key.
The pici caci e pepe is a wonderful thing. With nothing more than butter and Parmesan, tossed with starchy cooking water and zapped with plenty of black pepper, they conjure something seductively silky.
The fat strands are the perfect medium for this devastatingly memorable sauce, the way they coil around the fork positively lascivious. This dish stays with me throughout the week, even with intense competition; and it hasn’t left me since, the little minx.
This is your store cupboard staple, your workday fallback, reimagined as something elegant. Simple, yet utterly remarkable. I could have eaten it again. And again. It’s the kind of dish that sledgehammers into your memory for all the right reasons, the kind of thing I’d walk barefoot over broken glass to get one more hit of that sexy, sultry tangle.
New season Norfolk asparagus with tagliatelle makes for Spring on a plate: pecorino, and that’s it- Padella keeping it beautifully simple yet again.
Smoked eel and Amalfi lemons dress a tangle of tagliatelle, and very good it is, too: my friend suggests the deep smokiness of the fish is something that takes him back to the welcome of a country pub fireplace after a bracing walk: and who am I to argue?
Padella does seemingly simple things superbly well. It’s enough to make you think there was something in that quest for alchemy after all. And yes, I’m still dreaming of those pici…
If you’re after a cheesy sign-off, try this: Padella is owned by the son of Lulu and John Frieda. The prices won’t make your hair curl, but the pasta will make you want to Shout.
6 Southwark Street
Monday to Saturday 12:00 – 22:00
This blog is a very simple thing.
I won’t try to sell you any hand lotion, exercise programmes, coffee syrups or Patagonian nose flutes. You won’t find tips on dating, ‘wellness’ or yoga mats.
I write because I love it (and food, as indicated by my increasing girth). Greed happens to be my Deadly Sin of choice, but at least it is never shy of providing me with subject matter.
A simple thing, then: all you get is me wittering on semi-coherently about places I’ve eaten at; hence a ‘restaurant blog’ rather than a ‘food blog’, although there are a few recipes scattered throughout.
From mezze to Michelin ‘fine dining’ and all points in between.