SW17 – The Wheatsheaf – Tooting Bec

“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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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
London
SW17 7PG

SW17 Tooting – Dosa n Chutny- Restaurant review

Where is the ‘e’ I ask you? Where is it? I am always dubious about restaurants who give themselves oddly spelled versions of everyday words. Chutney? Chutny? And, well, using ‘n’ as a grammatical conjunction is something best left to the pop ups who serve ‘mac n cheese’.

“Mac n cheese?”

“Why yes, I’d love a portion of macaroni and cheese.”

That aside, I’d heard good things about the dosas at Dosa n Chutny on Tooting High Street. I invited a friend to come along – let’s call him the Pseudo Frenchman – seeing as though I give most of my friends these semi-biographical pseudonyms for the purpose of this blog. Don’t ask me why. Anyway he and the Welshman joined me on my excursion to Tooting.

Dosa n Chutny is like a truck stop cafe. Candy floor tiles, lurid peeling orange metal chairs, and communal metal water jugs arranged with uniform precision on every table. I was fooled by the age-old trick of lining one wall with floor to ceiling mirrors too.

The dishes are so cheap on the menu that all in my party were confused about how much we should order. Having lived in London for nearly two and a half years, I wouldn’t be completely surprised if a bowl of olives came to £3.50 on my bill. It’s a shock to be faced with dosa dishes on the mains section which range between £1.95 to a *whopping* £4.25. The boys were baffled; the Welshman ordered two main meals while the Pseudo Frenchman willingly gave in to adding a starter to the order, just in case. I hate to be a ‘told you so’ kinda person, but I was more reserved with the quantities I ordered.

OK, I love to be the ‘told you so’ person.

Shortly after a lot of food arrived at our table.

A starter of crispy fried vegetables was first up. Colourful and showcasing all the colours of a Sri Lankan market, I could tell it was going to be hot just looking at it. This may or may not have been something to do with the dried and fresh chillis which liberally sided every fried potato and onion. The fried coriander and cashew nuts sprinkled on top gave the dish a decent crunch; think of an Indian / Sri Lankan version of crispy fried seaweed and you’ve just about nailed the texture.  The array of vegetables were not worth writing home about; a bit of potato, mushroom, onion, and pepper. Moreish though.

Crispy Fried Vegetables at Dosa n Chutny

Crispy Fried Vegetables at Dosa n Chutny

The special masala dosa was thin and even. While being crisp enough on the edges, it was also rippable and spongy enough in the middle to soak up the sambar, raita, and coconut. I really liked the dosa. The filling of pulpy potato and carrot didn’t do it for me however. Mushy and wet, I felt it could have had a bit more flavour to it. Although the sambar was quite mildly spiced, and perhaps a little too salty for my personal consumption, it was oddly comforting. What is with the luminous green mint chutney though?

Masala dosa

Masala dosa

I ordered a vegetable kothu paratha which is basically an Indian bread (denser and oiled unlike a traditional chapati) that has been shredded on a hot tawa. It’s then mixed with vegetables and spices. I found it chewy and doughy, and after about five mouthfuls inordinately filling too. It was served in a large bowl with raitha and ‘gravy’ – a runny lentil dahl on the side. These provided a distraction to liven it up. I found it bland and not really appropriate to have solely as a main – possibly as a side dish for the very hungry. The regimented carrot cubes gave their origins away; mixed frozen veg packet!

Vegetable kothu

Vegetable kothu

When one pays so little for a dish, it’s probably no surprise to find that some of the ingredients have been watered down, and in that respect I’m willing to ease off on the criticism. I thought the dosas themselves were pretty good and I rate our fried vegetable starter too. I think I’d like to experiment with some of the starters, perhaps they’d put a bit more fire in my belly rather than doughy dosa. Between the three of us however, we were only £26 worse off.

*Shrugs* Meh. I’d go back.

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