As part of a bloggers' lunch to celebrate 10 years since opening, Private Dining London were invited to experience the Argentinian hospitality of Santa Maria Del Sur which is nestled perfectly between Battersea and Clapham, SW London. The restaurant is owned by Alberto Abbate who boasts a portfolio of restaurants and shops in the capital and is managed by our knowledgeable host for the day Juan Marcucci. The restaurant is relaxed and lively for a lazy Sunday afternoon with a spread of dark wood tables and Argentinian red wine adorning the shelves.
The restaurant is one room which can be hired by long tables of around 20 or around 60 guests would work well in the intimate and friendly space exclusively for a private dining feel. We would recommend the space for family occasions where you would like to get everybody together or for a relaxed Lunch for your work team.
To start with we were introduced to the menu by Juan, with his personal recommendations about the best dishes to choose and we listened to his explanation of the Italian and Spanish influences that resonate throughout their Argentinian dishes.
Empanadas were a firm favourite for the majority of guests with Minced Beef, Fried Chicken, Ham and Cheese or Spinach and Cheese options offering a little something for everyone. Fried Chicken was recommended by Alberto and was a delicious start to the meal even though the Chicken could’ve been chunkier rather than shredded but that is just our personal preference. The Ham and Cheese was a favoured option of Juan, which proved to be delicate and indulgent with the soft pastry encasing the filling like a large Argentinian dumpling rather than the classic style. It could’ve been nice with a little sauce to dip into with the cheese being stringy and dry once melted but delicious no doubt!
We were swiftly poured a glass of classic Argentinian Malbec (Maipú & Valle de Uco, Mendoza) and how can you go wrong with its fruity starting notes and blackberry plum tastes that complement the red meats.
In order to best enjoy the group dining at Santa Maria Del Sur we would recommend having a shared grill. Not only is shared eating extremely popular because it is a very sociable concept because of the talking point it evokes but also the variety of meats involved could match anyone with a large or small appetite. Or even a rare or well done appetite as the Charcoal grills enable diners to cook their meats further at their table. Each grill arrives with fresh charcoal and spitting meats so allows diners to cook to their liking. The hard part is knowing where to start. Private Dining London chose the Sirloin, Rib Eye, Chorizo Sausage, Provolone Cheese and Black Pudding Grill for 2. We have meat sweats just thinking back to all that meat…! The beef is impressive in quality as is the tender fat that has melted into the flesh which the recommended medium cooking of the steak promotes. Again, the cheese is stringy and oozingly melted which adds a break from the meat. The complete surprise and delight of the grill is the Chorizo Sausage which is surprisingly light in colour for something containing chorizo but it is tangy from the paprika whilst being fleshy enough for it to be juicy on the grill. When I expressed to Juan my liking of this part of the grill he proudly explained to me that it took them 1 year to perfect the recipe going forwards and backwards to the supplier. This fact in itself is a testament to how well executed the sourcing of ingredients is at Santa Maria Del Sur.
Head Chef Jose Cacciavillani is working hard behind the scenes in a small kitchen with a small team but he allows us to enter to have a look at the Grill and to watch our dishes being prepared. We do not know how he cooks with the blazing fire that they build daily with wood but my, that kitchen was hot!
Overall, Santa Maria Del Sur is a delight, made mostly by the quality of the meats and ingredients as well as the heart warming, welcoming and knowledgeable team. We will definitely return for the Chorizo sausage and to enjoy the grills with friends.
To find out more about booking your dining or grill experience at Santa Maria Del Sur, contact Private Dining London.
Santa Maria Del Sur, 129 Queenstown Rd, London SW8 3RH