7 months ago

All we want to do is hunker down in Archway this winter

The second visit to a much loved restaurant is always risky business. Can it do it again? In the case of Archway: yes it can.

In a move that shocked absolutely no-one, Archway was recently one of the 8 London restaurants to be added to the Michelin Guide. Obviously it was! Archway is that subtle, charming restaurant that you can rely on for consistently fantastic food and service. It feels like a true gem in the London food landscape, and that it is tucked away in Battersea under an unassuming archway (hence the name), makes it all the more precious to us.

We visited when Archway opened at the beginning of the year. We weren’t sure what to expect- the opening was a quiet affair and when we found the entrance we were a little surprised. It’s hidden at the end of a dark passageway that runs alongside several other arches beneath the train tracks. As you are approaching you’ll probably keep checking your CityMapper to make sure that, yes, this really is the place. But then you get there. And you open the door to a beautifully classic restaurant. You’re probably about to be served the meal of your dreams. Once you visit Archway once, you’ll never forget the charm of the place. We certainly didn’t, which made us almost nervous to revisit this autumn. Our experience last time was so good that it couldn’t possibly live up to the hype we’d given it in our head, could it? Oh, yes it could. We prefaced our first review of Archway with the same warning we will give now: it’s going to get gushing.

We were shown to our seats in a little nook of the place. Against the curving wall of the arch, you’re almost encouraged to ‘lean in’ to the person opposite you making it the perfect spot for intimate meetings. Our server was incredibly helpful talking us through the menu and advising us on the kind of wine we might like (which, by the way, she nailed with a French 2021 Fleurie). But before we got to the bottle of red we decided to order a dirty martini. Archway have a short cocktail list and this one wasn’t on the menu so we felt a little mean asking, but after double checking that the bar team could shake one up, two very cold, very delicious dirty martinis turned up at our tables like it was no trouble at all.

Kicking off the food were the marinated anchovies with pesto which came as a generous 7 fillets of fish, drizzled with a very garlicy basil sauce that absorbed some of the punchy, saltiness of the anchovies. As did a couple of slices of squidgy and slightly toasted bread. Wonderful. The other starter was the deeply savoury beef ragú which managed to be satisfying without being overly heavy for the first course. The fresh cavatelli was slightly chewy gave an extra layer of texture to the plate. Both dishes were perfect. It wasn’t fussy but it was bloody delicious, especially with a swig of the fruity Beaujolais between mouthfuls.

Credit: @archwaybattersea

Following this duo was a hard task. After hemming and hawing we asked our server whether the pork neck or the lamb breast would do it for us. Without a moments pause we were told the former, which came with endive, creamy borlotti beans and a zingy mustard sauce would be the order for us. Yet again, she was right and this was a properly impressive main. The portion size was just right- we wanted to lick the plate clean and we would have done if the company was less polite (though we are sure that the staff here wouldn’t have minded). The neck had been sliced for eating ease, but it also showed off the impeccable cook of the meat. Tender with a good amount of bite to it and the mustard sauce to cut through the signature richness of pork. What a plate! We were drawn towards the other main we ordered immediately. The grilled langoustine came drenched in a herby butter and a puntarelle salad on the side. They came butterflied and, ok there was a little bit of fiddling to get the meat out, but it was worth the work. The soft flavours of shellfish were enhanced by the fragrancy of the butter sauce and a touch of smokiness from the cooking…. and who’d have believed a puntarelle could be so good? Well thought through and cleverly balanced, the langoustine might just have won the evening for us.

Credit: @archwaybattersea

Archway did it again. They’ve managed to keep their appeal since opening and, if anything, have only got better. One of the main criteria in the Micheline Guide is that a restaurant must “produce consistently high quality dishes” which is precisely what the kitchen are doing here and it is gratifying to see them get the recognition that they deserve. It’s not just the food though; the staff were working as a well oiled, friendly machine to pull off flawless service and the atmosphere in there is the warm, comforting kind that you’ll want to hunker down in for the whole of winter. We know we do.

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