Plenty to Toot about at Tota
Review: Millie Diamond @millietalbot
Move over Brixton, Tooting is the new kid on the block with a particularly fast growing food scene. With a wave of new cafes, restaurants and bars still opening on a monthly basis Tooting is luring in the young professionals and families at a rate of knots.
Tota is a stone’s throw from Tooting Broadway tube (handy when it’s chilly weather) and has gained a reputation as an epic weekend brunch spot whilst being a reliable favourite with locals for a relaxed weeknight dinner.
Visiting last week, I was warmly welcomed in from the cold into the cosy, candlelit restaurant. It’s everything a neighbourhood restaurant should be; relaxed, homely with it’s own unique style – a refreshing change in décor compared to some of the other more formulaic approach of chains that are jumping on the Tooting bandwagon.
The menu at Tota is equally unique, with ingredients carefully sourced based on locality and seasonality. From home smoked meats such as their House Smoked Hickory Baby Back Pork Ribs to Fried ‘Petit Violet’ Artichokes, Lemon, Parmesan, Bayonne Ham & Aioli, there’s an eclectic style that’s executed very well.
On arrival I was offered a Bajan Rum Sour cocktail – a house special and a proper heart starter. These guys know how to make a cocktail that packs a punch. That’s ‘Dry January’ out of the window, but with happy hour from 5pm, it would be rude not to.
I plumped for the steak tartare to start. The meat was chopped to the perfect consistency and laced with just the right amount of juicy little capers and crunchy onion to cut through the creamy, soft meat. My dining partner plumped for the steamed duck gyozo dumplings. Deliciously crisp on the bottom these plump little parcels were served with a tangy ponzu sauce to cut through the richness of the duck.
There was more delicious meat on offer for the main courses and we plumped for the rump of lamb. This was a lovely explosion of colours and flavour from the tender, pink lamb offset against a bright orange confit carrot puree and a good dollop of vibrant green salsa verde.
The seabass with clams and samphire on a lobster bisque was equally as impressive. Flaky and moist fish with a deliciously crispy skin on the outside, this is my idea of a warming, winter fish supper. The clams added a salty edge to the dish, as did the samphire, which was bright, crisp and juicy – a wonderful balance to the silky lobster bisque.
Too happily stuffed for dessert, we scurried through the cold back to the tube and began plotting when we’d be able to make it back for brunch.
102 Tooting High St, London