Voted best cheap eats in London for 2012, Boqueria is a smart, stylish tapas restaurant situated on Acre Lane, which runs between Clapham Common and Brixton tube stations in South London.
It is surprisingly easy to walk past the restaurant front if you don’t know where you are going, as the restaurant front is narrow, with a slick white bar running down the right hand wall. As you arrive, you are lead through to the stylish yet cosy dining room at the back of the building.
Boqueria looks very smart and contemporary, and offers a range of traditional and modern tapas. The inspiration behind the restaurant was the famous Boqueria market in Barcelona, otherwise known as El mercat de Sant Josep de la Boqueria. The menu offers a wide choice of tapas from the more familiar, to the contemporary, with a very large specials board to choose from too.
On a cold weekday night, Boqueria filled up very quickly. It had a lovely vibrant authentic feel – all the staff were Spanish and you could hear them chatting away. We were welcomed very warmly, and all the staff were exceptionally friendly and passionate about the food on the menu.
We started with a glass of cava each, whilst we had a look through the menu. There is plenty of choice, and the staff were very flexible, offering to help pick and choose according to our tastes and requirements. The greatest difficulty we faced was deciding on what to have – we had five dishes to share between two, which was plenty, but for the sake of our waistlines, we had to whittle down our shortlist of around a dozen dishes which had all taken our fancy.
We loved the jamón ibérico de bellota – not just any Serrano ham, as the free range pigs that end up as jamón feast on a diet of acorns. The jamón croquetas were as good as any you’ll find in Spain – having lived there several years ago, just one bite took me back to evenings spent drinking sangria accompanied by rather too many croquetas. We really enjoyed the cochinillo asado (suckling pig), which was sweet and tender and served with a lemon sorbet and sweet potato crisps, and the solomillo: pork tenderloins served with a mushroom sauce.
Tapas are generally priced at around £5-8 per dish. We thought five dishes were sufficient shared between two people. The wine list offers plenty of choice, including excellent cava and sherry. We drank the house cava, which at £4.50 a glass was excellent value, and finished with a delicious glass of Pedro Ximénez sherry at £6.20.
If you are looking for excellent quality, authentic tapas in a smart, vibrant setting, we wholeheartedly recommend Boqueria.