I don’t think I’ve seen such a positive and quite frankly, frantic reaction to a restaurant as I have done with Padella in Borough Market, in quite some time.
I first heard about this ‘fantastic new pasta restaurant’ in a magazine newsletter featuring the top 5 must-try restaurants opening in March 2016. I immediately messaged my friend Paul, who lives above Borough Market, saying “we need to try this!”. Within a couple of days my instagram feed started filling up with photos of incredible looking pasta dishes which made my mouth water, and my impatience grow! Realising it was yet another ‘no reservations’ restaurant, I knew I’d have to find a time to go where I didn’t mind queuing for a table.
So Paul, our friend Dean and I made a plan to meet at Borough Market one Saturday at 11am, just to make sure we were at the front of the queue. We arrived to find the staff still setting up so we took a stroll round the market, grabbed some coffee then came back to start the queue at 11.30am. Thank goodness we did, as a queue quickly formed behind us. One woman even approached me to ask why we were queuing, and should she join the end of it!
At 12pm, our tummies rumbling, the doors opened and we had the privilege of choosing exactly where we wanted to sit…in our case it was at the bar, overlooking the kitchen. The layout of the restaurant is similar to Barrafina on Frith Street, but with the added bonus of another floor above.
We studied the menu but struggled to decide on what to order, mainly because we wanted everything on it! We asked the very kind chef in front of us for recommendations, then made our decision, starting with a glass of prosecco.
For me, the starter was a no-brainer….burrata with olive oil and crushed salt flakes (£5). An absolute dream…soft, rich and creamy and elevated by the beautiful grassy taste of the olive oil. Its so wonderfully simple yet gloriously decadent, I could happily have ordered another one. However, I resisted.
Next up was Pappardelle with 8-hour Dexter beef shin ragu (9.80)…the pasta itself was perfectly al dente, the beef melted in the mouth and the sauce had a terrific depth of flavour. Proper comfort food.
Dean had the Ravioli of Ricotta with sage butter (£8.20) and I must admit, I was pretty jealous. Each bite was like a pillow of cheesy goodness. Absolutely glorious. I’m definitely ordering this on my next visit.
I do love sitting at a bar in a restaurant as I love seeing the hustle and bustle of a restaurant and Padella’s chefs didn’t disappoint. Played out in front of us was a very slick and efficient production line of cooking and plating up the dishes.
There were two puddings on the menu so we ordered one of each…almond & nespole tart and chocolate tart, both £4. As soon as Paul and I took a bite of the almond tart, our eyes widened and we immediately ordered another portion. It was divine. The pastry was buttery, the filling was rich and fruity, and the crème fraîche cut through it perfectly. To be honest, floating on a cloud of almond goodness, the chocolate tart paled in comparison. Dean really enjoyed it though, so I was happy to leave him to it.
As you can probably tell by now, I loved Padella. Its so good to see a restaurant concentrate on doing a small selection of dishes well. You can feel the passion that’s gone into each dish. All the pasta is made fresh on-site shortly before being served, and usually rolled in full view of passers-by in the restaurant’s window.
Please do try it out, but be prepared to queue! Don’t let that put you off though, its totally worth it.