“We aren’t pretending to break any culinary boundaries, but what we are doing, we think we are doing well”, was how I was first approached by the manager of Tooting Bec’s The Wheatsheaf. An understated invite if ever there was one but my intrigue at this pub – which has recently been saved from Tesco-isation thanks to a community campaign which established the venue as an ‘asset of community value’ – drew me down to this corner of SW17.
TL;DR: The manager of the pub is wrong. For a local pub they have steered away from the trappings of scampi and chips, presenting a menu which is carefully considered, and really bloody well executed. Boundaries are being broken.
Burrata is a solid choice for a starter. Granted it’s not that solid in terms of consistency -the ooze of the creamy goodness as you pierce the outer skin is a bit like the end shot of of porno (apparently, so I’ve heard). The Wheatsheaf’s version did not disappoint. The heritage tomatoes could have been a touch more flavoursome – but we’ll skim over that one – so insignificant to the overall taste of the dish.
Above: Burrata, heritage tomato and pea shoot salad with basil pesto – also features my ripped jeans. Twenty quid from H&M in case you were wondering.
The Irishwoman makes yet another appearance on this blog – she’s not an adventurous eater (by her own admission – I’m not doing any potato jokes as she makes those all on her own). Her choice of starter was pretty darn incredible: goats cheese croquettes with salt-baked beetroot and caramelised walnuts really did hit the nail on the proverbial head. The caramelised walnuts provided a wonderful balance in comparison to what they can normally be – a tad bitter. But with the creamy crispy croquettes they added a sweetness which was fricking delicious.
My main, above, roast Atlantic cod fillet, prawn tempura, olive oil mash, french beans and gremolata was not my first choice. I’d hoped to go for their fresh-sounding tuna nicoise salad – but alas! It was the only thing unavailable on the menu that evening. Honestly, cod will never be my first choice of gill-bearing aquatic dinners but this one was supremely cooked. Flaky and fleshy with crispy skin. The prawn tempura was tasty enough although the cod as the centrepiece was enough to hold its own. The mash was a little wet for my liking although the lemon zest cut through the olive oil.
Finally the sweet potato, pumpkin and ginger hash, feta cheese, mixed leaves, tomato and chilli salsa selected by the Irishwoman could have gone either way on account of its strong flavours. The ginger was strong but was immaculately balanced by the smooth potato and pumpkin encased in a crispy outer layer.
Truly, The Wheatsheaf is something to behold in terms of dining in a local pub. If it is your local, I suggest you go there and eat, drink and support this community asset which is very much pulling up its socks on the culinary front. Tooting Bec-ers – you lucky things.
2 Upper Tooting Road