Amongst quite a few mezze and tapas style restaurants is Arabica in London Bridge. A stone’s throw away from Lobos (Spanish), Padella (Italian) and Brindisa (Spanish), Arabica similarly focuses on sharing plates in an informal and vibrant setting.
On a Monday, you may expect it not to have picked up the pace yet. We were wrong. The place was busy, but we managed to get squeezed into a corner table by the window. Great spot to people watch, not so great having a wobbly table. Having used the good old trick of placing a pile of paper napkins under the guilty leg, it was ready, “steady”, go. Not so much of the “go” to start with, as the service was slow. We waited and waited to have our order taken. When our waitress arrived at the table, her voice was really low and her voice appeared to be slightly slurred. Not sure if this was the style of the service, but it was a struggle to get the order taken. This showed when we ordered two glasses of white wine, to ony receive one. We had also ordered water, to then receive none. Due to the time it had taken and the lacking in accuracy of the service, we contemplated getting the hell out and going to Lobos, Padella or Brindisa, but our food order was a little more prompt, so we gave it a go.
As I said, the style and best way to enjoy this food is to order a selection to share. As our waitress had little knowledge other than to read the menu verbatim, we took the risk of ordering what sounded good and/or was familiar. We started with falafel (chickpeas, broad beans, onion, herbs and spices) and a dish from the clay oven, Mushroom & truffle man’ousheh (a leventine flatbread, with mascarpone, sautéed mushrooms, halloumi cheese, wild rocket and truffle oil). Eleanor was not keen on the falafel, she found it to be quite bland in taste. Having tasted one too, I had to agree. However, my man’ousheh was gorgeous. You cannot go wrong with truffle it if is your thing, but the entire dish was gorgeous. I had to throw all manners out of the table, cut and just pick it up with my hands to eat. Yum. We also had Sujuk Pide, a Turkish style pizza, with barbecued red pepper sauce, spicy beef sausage and halloumi cheese. Eleanor was definitely a fan of this. I had imam bayildi, a dish I am familiar with, which is fried aubergine, spiced lamb ragu with toasted pine nuts. This was almost cooked to my liking.
I would have loved to have been a little bit more experimental. It was just a shame we did not have a more enthusiastic and knowledgeable waiter/ess. This is a great place and opportunity to introduce diners to a wider range of Middle Eastern food, it just needs the guidance of the right people on the floor to take that leap.
3 Rochester Walk
T. 020 3011 5151