Monday, 8 October 2018

Hatched, Battersea

You know when you go to a new restaurant within easy walk of your own front door, run by enthusiastic and friendly people, serving a short, attractive menu of seasonal British dishes and you hope with every fibre of your being that it turns out to be good? Hatched (previously, and very briefly called Darwin though don't ask me why it's changed; maybe because there's another restaurant in town called Darwin and they got wind) is, on paper, everything you'd want from a local bistro. Bright and spacious and well-appointed, all it needed to do was serve a half-decent, value-for-money dinner and I'd be something approaching a regular. A decent restaurant in SW11! Finally.

So why did I leave on Friday evening with the very strong impression that Hatched wasn't for me? Well it wasn't for want of trying, from either party. I did desperately want to enjoy the place, and from the warm welcome up until the first bits of food arrived, everything was going swimmingly. I can't remember what occupied the site previously, but you get the impression a lot of money has been spent on giving it clean, Nordic lines and a smart open kitchen, very much home amongst the coffee shops and interior design studios on St John's Hill. Of course, intelligent interior design and nice lighting shouldn't mean everything, they just project a certain confidence in the product on offer, and as anyone will tell you, confidence is attractive.

Unfortunately, there's nothing particularly confident, or intelligent, or attractive, about charging £10 for a bowl of courgetti and cherry tomatoes. OK, so there were trace amounts of white crab meat in here aswell, but it was hardly in abundance, and this bowl, piled clumsily high and lacking in texture, finesse, interest of any kind, more closely resembled something you'd find in a plastic tub at M&S rather than a £10 starter in a Modern British restaurant.

Octopus was better, if that doesn't sound too much like damning with faint praise (it does, doesn't it). The animal itself had been sensitively treated, a nice soft texture in the larger sections and nicely crisped-up tentacles, with a gentle aroma of smoke. But there was something weirdly sweet about the glaze that had been used on it, which the "red pepper chutney" struggled to balance.

My friend's veal was the best of the mains. Much like the crab starter, it wasn't about to win any prizes for presentation (I mean does that look like a £26 plate of food to you, or yesterday's leftovers?) but the veal had loads of flavour and was timed well, and the accompanying veg were nice enough even if they looked like they'd been thrown onto the plate from a distance.

Cod was certainly a generous amount, the flesh beautifully white and collapsing into strong, defined flakes so they clearly know how to cook a bit of fish, even if I'd have liked a bit more crunch from the skin. At least they left the skin on though - far too many places just give up and remove it, which I always think is a bit disappointing. But the brown shrimp it came with were vinegary and distracting - pickled almost - and a couple of bits of roast fennel did not do much to persuade that this plate of food was worth £25. Also, and I could be wrong, but I'm pretty sure the same sauce finished both the cod and veal dishes. Which is as weird as it is lazy.

We didn't stay for dessert. Perhaps we didn't quite need to spend £39 on a single bottle of wine, but with no introductory fizz or cocktails, no nibbles, not even a tray of house bread either (which seems particularly mean), the bill came to a painful £62.44/head. At literally half that, it still would have been a faintly disappointing dinner but it would have at least stood a chance of tempting me back at some point in the future. But I'm entitled to expect far better for this kind of money - this is approaching the Chez Bruce price point, a short walk away and far more deserving of your time and cash.

Nobody is as sorry as me that Hatched didn't live up to expectations - I would have loved nothing more than to have a new favourite local to drop into with family and friends, God knows living in Battersea I've waited long enough. But it wasn't to be. SW11 continues to be the place where restaurants go to die, and I'm kicking myself I ever allowed myself to be convinced it would be otherwise. In other, but not entirely unrelated news, a little bird tells me Meatliquor are opening on Northcote Road...



Unknown said...

It used to be the Fish Club. As a fellow SW11er, I feel your pain. Have you tried Sinabro?

Chris Pople said...

Unknown: I haven't, but I have a feeling it would go the same way...

Unknown said...

what about bababoom, battersea rise. SO GOOD.

Unknown said...

What about bababoom, battersea rise? So good.

ALSO, its not *quite* battersea, but a little birdie tells me that Well Kneaded - sourdough pizza- are opening on Garratt Lane, in Earlsfield and that it is going to be delicious (and very good value)

Chris Pople said...


Sofia said...

Just stumbled upon your blog and lovin’ your posts!! Dare I say - try Hatched again. They’ve settled into their groove and are a great team doing some really great food. Not everything is a win, but what they do well - they do crazy well. Beautifully cooked with lots of care. Only slightly biased since I live a block away and pop in once a month ;) And sit at the bar - it makes a difference.

Anonymous said...

I went to Hatched on Friday night and I couldn't agree with you more. I walk past it everyday and friends have raved about it, so I was really excited to go!
They've perfected the restaurant design and ambiance, although there seemed to be more staff than guests, which is never a good sign especially on a Friday night at a neighborhood restaurant.
The small bites were delicious; our starter was cold and the mains were drenched in sauce, there was so much left over and all we could taste was butter and salt! After that, we didn't think it would be worth ordering a pudding.
The waiter wasn't at all attentive and when we asked a question about the food, he said he had no idea and directed us to the chef.
Very sad to say I am disappointed, it's overpriced and I would not return! Thank you for your review :)