The Fat Delicatessen has nothing to do with a certain Mr Blumenthal. Instead, this Balham deli with a Spanish flavour, is one of those local gems that are so effortlessly good at what they do that it’s all too easy to take them for granted. It’s also just a short morning stumble from my front door and, as a result, folds itself in to the fabric of my week in a very agreeable way. This is the place my housemate and I usually kick off our weekends; it’s also a favourite place to pop into for a mid-week pick-me-up. The staff are friendly and know my face by now.
It’s a smallish space, but they squeeze a lot in. They have a cheese counter, a selection of tasty salady bits and one of those fierce-looking machines for slicing ham. They stock a small but intriguing selection of mainly Spanish wines and serve a menu of tapas dishes: grilled sardines, fennel gratin, snails with chorizo mash. Three nights a week, on Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays, they stay open in the evening for dinner. My housemate adores the pork belly with white beans they serve here and talks about it often.
However, I’ve only had a full evening meal here once, and though that was pretty impressive - an experience that will have to be repeated soon - more often than not I pop in for lunch or perhaps for a coffee and something sweet. The coffee is fine if not spectacular, but their brunch dishes are things of beauty.
Look at that. Avocado on toast. Simple but ever so good. Perfectly ripe avocado piled onto a decent piece of toasted (sour dough?) bread, and flecked with chilli, sea salt and a glug of good oil. My housemate does not like anything green to besmirch her brunch so her default order is the chorizo and fried egg sandwich, pictured here just before she popped the yolk and let a slick of golden eggy goodness envelop the bread.
It’s easy to be complacent about things so close to home. I admit I often order unadventurously here, returning to the same couple of dishes, enjoying the comfort of the familiar, the blanket of the known. Though it’s probably not quite worth a trip across town, it’s an asset to the area and clearly run by people who care about the quality of what they serve; in this respect it dwarves many of the other local cafes. And, oh my, that avocado...
The Fat Delicatessen, 7 Chesnut Grove, London SW12 8JA 020 8675 6174
3 days ago