The Maltings Cafe, Southwark

Thursday, 11 February 2010 | |

People often ask me how I can afford to eat out so regularly, and my answer to them tends to be: I usually eat at places I'd consider cheap, and it tends to cost less than going on a night out. Being a student, living on student loan, I cherish the cheaper eats London has to offer (of which there are plenty, to anyone who claims you can't eat cheap here). The trend in London seems to be that the cheaper restaurants are 'ethnic' eats, whilst those where you'll have to splash out a bit more are modern British, French or 'European', though this doesn't have to be the case. Take The Maltings Cafe, for instance. In their words, it is 'Simple Mediterranean food', a maxim employed by a great proportion of restaurants making waves in London; the menu changes regularly (every day, in the case of Maltings Cafe) and the kitchen works with whatever is available to them that day.

The Lunch Menu on the 10th of February, 2010. One side dish, one fish dish, one meat dish and a pasta dish. Two desserts. Simplicity itself, fairly priced dishes which are cooked well but without overcomplicating procedures, letting the quality of their ingredients speak for themselves, echoing what was earlier stated about 'simple food'.

Bread - two types of sourdough offered.

Planeta olive oil and sea salt. The salt is disappointing; some Fleur de sel would be much more appealing, though it's only a minor quibble, and I suppose the margins wouldn't allow for a dish of expensive salt on every table. The olive oil is wonderful.

Cannellini beans and watercress, swimming in olive oil, with a squeeze of lemon juice. A nice side dish, which surprisingly went well with both the fish and the pork, below.

Crispy skinned sea bream, roasted leeks and tartare sauce (with bits of boiled, chopped egg). The fish was cooked absolutely beautifully - the skin cooked to a wonderful crisp, while the flesh of the fish was soft, flaky and perfectly seasoned. The leeks, with their mild and sweet taste after being roasted, complimented the fresh, salty fish. The tartare sauce was one of the most successful I've ever tasted. The mayonnaise, capers and parsley combining to form a sharp tasting sauce, whilst the bits of chopped egg rounded it off wonderfully. I've often said that you can improve almost any dish with a boiled egg, and it's certainly the case here.

Slow-roasted shoulder of pork, roasted carrots, parsnips with bread and herb sauce. Weirdly enough, I'd never tried bread sauce until this dish, something which tends to draw a reaction from those who admire the stuff, such as my girlfriend. If it always tastes like this, I consider myself a fan. The herb and bread sauce complimented the exceptionally tender pork, which came apart with a simple forking. The vegetables were also cooked to perfection, retaining a bit of a crunch but being soft enough that they were pleasing to bite in to. 

The final bill. We got a slice of the coffee, walnut and hazelnut cake but forgot to take a picture. Sorry. Incredibly cheap for the quality on offer. I've paid twice the price for main dishes which were of lesser qualities than those on offer at Maltings, at places which are revered by many.

This place is a gem, which has existed for a while but still does not have many words written about it. The team behind Maltings are opening a new restaurant called Zucca, in Bermondsey, which will have longer opening hours (i.e. it will be open in the evening) and I have high hopes for it. In the meantime, go to Maltings and enjoy whatever they have on offer that day. I doubt you'll be disappointed.

The Maltings Cafe

Sarsons Brewery Works  
169 Tower Bridge Road  
London SE1 3NA
Google Maps

Opening Times: 8am - 4pm Monday-Friday

Maltings Cafe on Urbanspoon

6 comments:

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree more,Maltings is better than many of the " Big Guns".I've had many incredible meals there.Let's enjoy it before it makes it to the Sunday supplements...

sameer said...

WOW. OK, i'm there ASAP.

Greedy Diva said...

I love little discoveries like this. Gorgeous snaps.

Ibzo said...

It's only a matter of time, Anon. I'll be happy for them, but annoyed if I can't get a table easily!

Sameer, let me know if you make it! It's a great place.

Greedy Diva - thank you very much! I can't believe it's not more well known, to be honest, but hopefully I've inspired a few people to visit...

catty said...

Wow this does look pretty fantastic, given the price! I was hoping someone had ordered the slow roast pork shoulder and so very pleased someone did. I will put it on my list of places to visit :)

Julia Stiles said...

he Maltings cafe is a shining star in the culinary firmament of South East London. I would be amazed if you get could get this quality of food at this price anywhere in Denver bars.This is a beacon in a desert of overpriced gastro pubs and pretentious uber cuisine.

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