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Review: Joia, Battersea

Pan con tomate with a view

Pan con tomate with a view

Joia has one very good thing going for it: huge floor-to-ceiling windows with 15th storey views out over Battersea Power Station and beyond. It’s a light and spacious dining room and it feels lovely to be here.

That said, on arrival we had a similar experience to La Goccia: the lady on the door took us to a table tucked into a corner at the back of the room, straight past three tables-for-two right by those huge windows. We asked whether any of them were available and, gosh, yes they were! So why was your default to pick a crappy table at the back for us? In case someone nicer comes along?

Hotels know how to do this. If you arrive for your reserved room and better ones are still available, chances are you’ll get an upgrade. Because why? Because if you love the experience, you might come back. Hell-ooooo restaurants! If we love the experience, we might come back. A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. Just give whoever walks in the best table you’ve got left. Can’t go wrong.

Fish stew

Fish stew

Aaaanyway, the view from our new table was lovely. And the service was excellent. And they’ve got some good Portuguese wines on the list. We started with a couple of cocktails, both were excellent (lacto-fermented fig… mmmm!). Here on Sunday, so it was a Sunday lunch menu, Portuguese-style.

To start we got four tapas: padron peppers, roasted aubergine, croquettes and pan con tomate. All were competent and tasty, though a big chunk of soft wholemeal sourdough was a slightly odd complement to the garlicky grated tomatoes. Croquettes were good, with generous bits of salty ham in a gooey cheese. The aubergine has some sweeeet caramelisation. But I’ll be honest, for £55 these felt kinda unexciting as a starter. I’d pick these for a hasty lunch at an anonymous tapas bar in a random Spanish village.

Lamb ribs

Lamb ribs

My main was lamb ribs, and what I got were four very excellent little chops, cooked pink and just a gorgeous texture. Top notch lamb, too. The Madeira gravy was rich, tangy and beautifully shiny. Maureen went for a fish stew, a good mix of seafood in a dark gravy full of earthy, smoky notes. Good, good. To accompany we shared a bowl of pretty ordinary leaf salad and decent patatas bravas. To finish, Maureen had a sliver of Basque cheesecake of a wonderfully creamy and silky consistency, as good as I’ve encountered (even in San Sebastian) while my roast pineapple was just that: slivers of roast pineapple and pineapple puree with a scoop of coconut ice cream.

So… hmm. They’ve got a lovely dining room at Joia, and if you get a window seat you’ll feel very chuffed and probably content with the £55 a head (for Sunday lunch). But purely based on the food, apart from my lamb (splendid) it was all just good, competent, and not very exciting. I need more than that for £55.

That view

That view

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