Living in Battersea, I am often spoiled for choice when it comes to quality restaurant choices. Of course, I have my favourites where I am a regular and everybody knows my name, but sometimes, it’s fun to change things up, walk on the wild side and try something new.
Sinabro has always appeared intriguing to me. The restaurant is always full when I walk by; but why would a fine dining restaurant establish themselves in a family-friendly neighbourhood rather than in Central London, or perhaps a professional area? It hardly seemed like the obvious choice, and admittedly, it put me off for a long time. But with most of the families away on their summer holidays, I was able to get a table rather easily.
It’s an odd kind of place, and I’m not still not sure if it’s in a good or bad way. The menu is curious: European dishes with Asian influences applied in an unlikely (perhaps refreshing?) way. The decor – rather casual, from the paper menu and napkins to the bar layout – feels jarringly in opposition to the refined menu; it’s an awkward contrast. The effect was heightened by the particularly bouncy music, which doesn’t feel natural but I imagine serves primarily to attempt to drown out the passing traffic.
Sinabro’s menu has few options; I find that’s usually a great sign. A few dishes prepared well are always better than a long menu of options messily put together or (gasp!) simply defrosted from frozen. (Sinabro is most definitely far above such practices: everything was prepared for me upon ordering – I know because their restaurant layout allows you to see the chef in action. ) The options included a tasting menu, but when I asked about it, it seemed that it would be too much food and that it’s something more typically ordered by whole tables, so I went a la carte.
On a warm sunny day, I was inspired to try the tomato gaspacho, a cold dish that is served with watermelon, heritage tomatoes and cucumber – and I ordered the homemade sourdough bread with smoked butter and seaweed pesto. The bread arrived first: it was far larger than I expected, and it was served warm. I couldn’t wait for the gaspacho to try it: the seaweed pesto had a bit of heat to it; and the smoked aspect of the butter gave it a heightened cream flavour. Both were an excellent choice to have with that delicious sourdough.
The gaspacho followed after and, I must admit, I was delighted to see this beautiful dish which encapsulated the feeling of summer on a plate. Carefully plated and elegantly served, it was too pretty to eat- almost! It was a gaspacho of well-balanced flavours that was refreshing and joyful. I enjoyed every bite and – since it is such a casual place – I mopped the plate up with my bread so that by the time it was taken away it looked like it had already been washed. That’s always a sign of a great dish!
Before my main arrived, my table was cleared of crumbs and the silverware was replaced; all indicators of the high standards to which the restaurant aims to hold itself. And then, the main arrived: beef striploin with broccoli, Chantenay carrot, girolle, pear puree’ and Bulgogi sauce. Well, it was just as pretty as the gaspacho! The beef arrived medium rare, just as I had specified, and it was delicious, topped with seasoning and a touch of spring onion. The broccoli, carrots and girolle were delicious and cooked to perfection: anyone who finds vegetables boring should taste these and then reconsider! The pear puree’ was a lovely touch of sweet, which I really appreciated because it helped offset the effect of the Bulgogi sauce which was delicate at first, but then hit me unexpectedly with a delayed burst of spicy heat. Nonetheless, it was a delicious dish all-round.
Finally, it was time for dessert, but alas, I had committed a beginner’s mistake and filled up on bread! I had been advised that the desserts were relatively large portions, so I opted against it and closed the meal there. It’s just as well, these dishes alone came to over 38 GBP. If you’re a regular reader of mine then you know I have no problems dishing out hundreds of pounds for a great dining experience; however, this felt like a stretch. I had even considered ordering the lightest sweet possible, which the menu suggests goes perfectly with their coffee/tea: their homemade truffles. The serving had 3 of them – and did not include the coffee or tea – at a cost of 3.90. No. Not when I’m sitting in an environment with poorly matched music, loud traffic and sirens behind me, and a paper napkin on my lap like I’m in a Pizza Express.
So all in all, the food is something special and I really can’t fault it – but for everything else that makes up the dining experience, I cannot justify the price point.
*Calories: This was tricky because I calculated over a thousand calories… but quite frankly, half of that was probably just the bread. I should have really known better, but I couldn’t resist!
Food taste: 4.5 / 5 (It was fantastic; I couldn’t fault any of it. I leave a margin of error because my sampling of the menu was rather small and didn’t even make it to dessert)
Food/table presentation: 4 / 5 (Food presentation earns higher marks than this – you’ve seen the photos – but I had to consider the bare table layout as well, with paper napkins and all)
Service: 3 / 5 (Good, speedy service. Shame that the woman who served me was unable to assist me in any way: every time I asked for a recommendation she would just say that the whole menu is delicious and it’s all good. I’m sure it is, but that doesn’t help me.)
Atmosphere/decor: 2 / 5 (It was clean, but it was not cozy. There are two tables set up by the door – where I was seated and heard every passing siren – and then the long bar seating which is simply not inviting. And with a menu at these prices, a customer deserves a more comfortable seating arrangement than that.)
Value for money: 2 / 5 (Unfortunately I can’t rate this higher, as that would set it at average and the value to money ratio is certainly not average. The dishes are worthy, yes; but when all of the other attributes of the dining experience are weak, prices like that can’t be justified. )
Overall rating: 3.1/ 5