Posted on Monday, 2nd March 2015
Boqueria Market on Queenstown Road is the second branch of Boqueria, a Spanish tapas restaurant group. I visited the original Boqueria on Acre Lane in Brixton about 18 months ago and thoroughly enjoyed the experience. The food was fresh and wholesome and the service was lovely. So once again I found myself south of the river to discover what Boqueria Market had to offer.
Boqueria Market is a really smart looking restaurant. The setting is intimate and the lighting is soft. The restaurant feels relaxed, yet there is a buzzy vibe to it that makes for an engaging dining experience. The menu is similar to the Acre Lane branch and includes a selection of traditional and contemporary tapas as well as a lovely variety of Spanish wines and sherries.
We began our meal with the premium jamón ibérico puro bellota (acorn-fed pure breed Iberico ham – large plate for £18). This was delicious with an intensely sweet flavour and earthy, nutty overtones. The pieces of fat running through the jamón were delicious too, with a melting, soft quality.
We called upon other favourites, these being the croquetas with Iberian ham and chicken (£5.20) and the tortilla Española (£4.90). The croquetas were really nicely done with a love crispy crumb coating and a flavoursome creamy filling. The tortilla was also tasty. It delivered a reasonable flavour, but it had been reheated so had lost some of its vibrancy.
Our seafood choices included calamari with alioli (£7.30) which was delicious. The calamari was tender and the batter was light and crispy. We also enjoyed the gambas al ajillo (£7.90), king prawns with garlic, piquillo peppers and olive oil. The prawns themselves were a little soft in texture, but they produced a nice flavour, and the garlic olive oil was decadent and garlic-y. With a hit of chilli, it was exactly as it should have been.
From the meats, and the suckling pig (£8.90) was superbly done as the meat was wonderfully tasty and moist. Best of all it was so tender that it cut like soft butter. It didn’t come with any crackling, but I’d rather no crackling then bad crackling. As accompaniments were some crunchy sweet potato crisps and an apple sauce and lemon sorbet. The dish needed some acidity to cut through the rich fattiness of the pork, so apple and lemon were a good choice. However, the sorbet was extremely cold, and the contrast between the heat of the pork and the coldness of the sorbet didn’t work.
Our final savoury dish was the arroz negro (£9.80), squid ink rice with mussels and prawns. This was an accomplished effort. The rice had a nice bite to it and the top layer of the dish was slightly crunchy. There was also a good depth to the squid ink stock although it was a touch fishy. But what detracted most from the dish was the over seasoning. It was very salty, and with a slight adjustment to the seasoning this would be a much improved dish.
To desserts, and the churros with hot chocolate sauce (£5) was ok. Thicker churros would have yielded a gooier centre which would have made them more satisfying. Without doubt, the mascarpone cheesecake with raspberry coulis (£4.60) was our preferred pudding of the evening. The filling was creamy and smooth with a fabulous biscuit base. Technically, the base was too thick, but it was buttery and crunchy with a hint of salt in it that made it really moreish and intensely satisfying. We enjoyed the cheesecake, so much so we had to order a second portion.
There’s a lot to like about Boqueria Market. Although some of the cooking missed the mark, on the whole the dishes were really tasty and enjoyable. The pricing is reasonable, and with the relaxed service and ambient feel, Boqueria Market makes for a decent tapas destination. Boqueria Market offers good comfort cooking and it is a nice addition for Queenstown Road.
You can read about my post on Boqueria on Acre Lane here.
1) The food was tasty overall.
2) Reasonable prices.
3) Good atmosphere.
4) The pleasant service.
1) The beef tenderloin with foie gras dish.
2) The heavy seasoning in the arroz negro.
Food rating: 3.5/5
Service rating: 3.25/5
Prices: Depends on how many dishes you order, but 3 dishes and a dessert per person will cost about £20 to £35 per head.