Boqueria: A Carnivorous Conquest
It’s no secret that small plates give me big joy. So when faced with the challenge of picking a venue for the father’s last dinner in London, Tapas seemed like a safe bet. Considering we were spending the night at my uncle’s near Brixton, whose food scene I’m less familiar with, the raving reviews about Boqueria gave us little need to contemplate this decision.
Acre Lane, which is tucked behind the main Brixton market is uncharacteristically quiet for the neighbourhood on a Saturday night. On our way we pass Khamsa, an Algerian restaurant that we were originally keen on, but was booked out. Seeing its more-than-modest exterior, I’m not regretting that as much now. (Yes, I’m totally judging a restaurant by its cover, but forgive me for wanting something fancy, while the father is still paying!)
Luckily Boqueria is hard to miss on the alienated Acre Lane. It’s buzzing with the area’s young professionals and some families. A communal dining area encircles the bar, but the waiter guides us downstairs, which is where he’s reserved our table. The lighting here is less dim but the ambience is intimate, owing to the soft-yellow fairy lights that adorn the walls. But it’s the larger-than-life sized wine bottles perched on the centerpiece that catches my attention. All a girl needs on the eve of Valentines Day.
Sangrias are ordered and we’re now all set for those small plates. The waiter recommends 2-3/person, but seeing as we’ve had a heavy lunch, we start with the Queso De Cabra Con Cebolla Caramelizada (Goat’s cheese with caramelised onions and red fruits), Cochinillo Asado (Sucking pig with sweet potato crisps, apple sauce, and lemon sorbet), and the Pincho de Solomillo de Ternera con foie y P.X. (Beef Tenderloin, Foie & Pedo Ximenez on toasted bread). Sounds like a mouthful? I’ve just begun.
Our first dish is naturally a safe bet, for the day that the combination of grilled Goats Cheese and caramalised onions fails to satisfy will be a personal culinary calamity. The red fruit sauce adds a dash of tanginess to the mouth-melting duo.
It could be said that our palates are now cleansed. For what is about to follow, that seems like a good decision in retrospect.
There are some dishes that remain etched in your memory, because they redefine experimental eating. As someone who doesn’t frequent Michelin Star restaurants, that moment doesn’t arrive often. So, I am glad to announce that I experienced that moment with Boqueria’s signature Suckling Pig dish. The combination of textures and tastes – tender-juicy meat, crispy-savory sweet potato, silky-sweet applesauce and icy-sour lemon sorbet – is one I can’t tire of talking about enough, and lingers in my mouth till date. This one’s definitely a winner.
Naturally, it now seems implausible that any dish will match to the Suckling Pig, so it’s with little expectation that we tuck into the beef tenderloin. The verdict? We’re pleased with the succulence of beef and foie, and the Pedro Ximenez, a traditional Spanish wine, adds a subtle acidic touch. The truth? We’re still dreaming about the heavenly explosion of flavours that was the suckling pig.
While our appetite can no longer accommodate dessert, nothing seems particularly eye-catching. Besides, the star dish has already been sampled, and a memorable meal has been created. Brixton, rest assured that I shall return to complete this culinary conquest!
Where: 192 Acre Lane, Brixton, London SW2 5UL