Looking for sensational seafood and signature cocktails in the heart of Tooting? Broadway Market’s The Sea Garden and Grill is the catch du jour!
In A Word:
Couples, small groups of about three or four enjoying sharing plates or cocktails – or both. Locals and trend driven food appreciators looking for something absolutely delicious.
Tooting’s food scene has been steadily brewing over the past couple of years and has become one of London’s newest and trendiest eating spots. The Broadway Market in Tooting boasts a number of exciting eateries and the recently opened The Sea Garden and Grill is hoping to be another success. With a menu consisting of mainly seafood and cocktails, it certainly sounds intriguing, but will they sink or swim?
As expected, it’s a small venue, but surprisingly cosy. There’s an open kitchen and bar area with space to eat, allowing you to see everything and almost be a part of the action. There are a couple of benches outside that make up the main dining area and they come with faux fur blankets. It’s a thoughtful gesture for the winter months, however, you’ll find you won’t need them as there’s overhead heating.
There’s a chilled vibe here. It’s relaxing and inviting, people stop by and pick up a menu, some stay, some move on and there’s no pressure from the staff or guests to make a decision. It’s a contrasting combination of contemporary restaurant with a street food/market atmosphere. Unfortunately, the lights were shut off due to maintenance, but it only adds to the cosiness.
Sadly as oysters are off the menu tonight, we can’t try the Sea Dog Martini, I feel I have to mention it though, as it features oysters, Japanese seaweed and citrus…how’s that for different? Still, I decide to try their Love Coffee cocktail instead – their take on the expresso martini.
OK, so that might not be the most unusual cocktail to try, but its appearance alone makes it a stand-out drink. It’s beautifully served in part of a martini glass that rests in a sort of miniature goldfish bowl. At the bottom, there are sticks of cinnamon, a slice of burnt citrus fruit and sugar – purely for our ‘amusement’ as the bartender puts it. I find it hard to look away, it reminds me of a terrarium, which is always beautiful to look at.
In terms of taste, it’s perfectly made. There’s a balanced blend of vodka, liquor and coffee, and the cinnamon dusting on top adds a touch of sweetness. It definitely reminds me of winter. Just remember to lift the glass out of the bowl with both hands to start with, otherwise things may get messy!
Jack and I order, and it isn’t long before the first round of food is served. My Crab Risotto looks like the definition of comfort food. Warm, creamy and reassuring. The rice is perfectly cooked and there is just the right amount of parmesan cheese in the sauce. The mix of brown and white crab meat elevates the dish and never becomes boring.
Jack’s order of Textures of Jerusalem looks absolutely stunning and tastes even more so. I’m not usually a fan of artichokes, but these are so delectable. The hint of BBQ delicately comes through, complementing the pickled mushrooms and sauce. Jack says he’s never had artichokes quite like these. Neither have I.
The service is brilliant here and soon we’re onto round two. It’s always good to see a classic on the menu and this Battered Fish with tartar sauce is exactly that. The batter is crispy and golden, just how it should be and the fish is meaty and flakey. The size of the dish looks small, but it’s filling.
Again, Jack’s BBQ Flat Iron Steak is an absolute picture. Lots of colour and interesting flavours here. The beef is soft, tender and sumptuous with just a hint of that barbecue taste. The big surprise here though, is the gnocchi. Rather than the usual, small, oval shapes we’re used to seeing, it comes on the plate in a singular rectangle shape. Inside, is yet more beef. Soft, strands of meat tucked in the squishee gnocchi. It’s certainly creative!
Accompanying Jack’s dish is pot of golden Triple Cooked Beef Dripping Chips. This is another surprise as neither Jack nor I know anywhere else nowadays that cooks chips in beef dripping. They taste incredibly moreish. They’re perfectly crispy on the outside and soft and fluffy on the inside. Another surprise these guys have is powered malt – malt vinegar but in powder form. I’m not keen on vinegar but a dusting of this over these chips give them an amazing lift.
I find there’s enough room in my stomach for dessert. Once again, the presentation of the Honey Panna Cotta is incredible. There are lovely yellow hues that just pop out from the plate. It tastes exciting as it looks. The rich, creaminess of the (unusually shaped) panna cotta subtly cuts through the citrus flavours while the honeycomb pieces adds crunch and sweetness to the dish. The thin layer of orange layer beneath the panna cotta is a revelation. I’d happily sit here and just eat that.
A glass of homemade liquor is served with it. At first sip, it has a strong kick with a sharp citrus flavour, but as you drink it with the dessert, you realise it accompanies the dessert beautifully.
Jack finishes off with a glass of Puerto Fine. A dry sherry with a distinctive woody, nutty aroma. We both agree it has a bold, walnut taste that makes it an ideal digestif. Perfect if you don’t fancy anything sweet.
Pushing boundaries is the norm in the ever competitive restaurant game and it’s becoming harder to find the true gems. However, The Sea Garden and Grill is one such gem. Everything we’ve sampled has been beautifully presented, delighted our senses and at the right portion size. It’s rare to find a restaurant where every dish and drink surprises the palate and makes you smile. Add to this, a chilled, cosy vibe, affordable prices and attentive staff who pride themselves on their work, and you have one incredible experience. These guys are doing something very special indeed.
Add to this, a chilled, cosy vibe, affordable prices and attentive staff who pride themselves on their work, and you have one incredible experience. These guys are doing something very special indeed.
Unit 99-101 Broadway Market, 29 Tooting High Street, London SW17 0RJ
Tel: 020 8682 2995