Paladar's Bringing A Corner Of Latin America To Elephant & Castle
Cheerful, colourful, and with a strong tequila sours game, Paladar would be a welcome addition to any part of London. But that's all the more true here, by the roundabout where the busy roads running to Elephant & Castle, Southwark, Lambeth North and Borough stations all connect.
The area has traditionally been low on food spots, feeling less like a neighbourhood than a meeting of main roads. Thanks to Paladar, it's now home to some great Latin American dishes, ranging from the hearty — the spicy lamb stew — to the delicate, like the palm heart tiradito.
The pineapple tequila sours are saved from being tooth-achingly sweet by being equally sharp, the overall effect a fierce, sherbety zing. And while an early start the following morning means we don't explore the drinks list that thoroughly, we spot plenty of interesting Argentinian and Chilean wines by the glass, starting at surprisingly decent prices.
Beef brisket empanadas are small but intensely meaty bites, with a lovely, dense dough less like a pasty's flaky pastry and nearer the hot chewiness of kibbeh. That palm heart tiradito is a small, artistic dish packing as much flavour as any of our meatier options — thin slivers of palm heart butched up with sweet, hot jalapeño pickle.
It's not totally seamless: the ceviche dish we order never arrives, but (a testament to some generous portions) we only realise when we're in the throes of dessert. On the bright side, that does leave us with space for blue corn churros, crispy, hot and with a dulche de leche pot for dunking. And the pricing-to-portion size can be tricky to gauge, so we're grateful for our waiter's bang-on steer on exactly how much less/more we need to be ordering.
Without too much in the way of neighbourhood nightspots as competition round here, Paladar could get away with being just okay. Fortunately, their warm, welcoming restaurant (and punchy way with tequila) are making it a long way better than that.
Paladar, 4-5 London Road, SE1 6JZ.
Last Updated 27 March 2018