32 Putney High Street
London SW15, Tel: 020 8780 1022
Opening Hours: Mon-Sun 12N-11pm (Fri-Sat -11.30pm Sun -10.30pm)
Nearest Tube: East Putney or Putney BR
Website: La Mancha
Ear mufflers, sign language crash course, lozenges. Orifice for food to enter in. Another orifice for quick exit.
Yes dear peoples. These are the ingredients needed for this extremely popular Spanish restaurant and tapas bar in Putney.
Every time we go there it is packed to the rafters with chatty (no doubt Sangria drenched) people. I am convinced the night always starts with a noisy table. Then when the next few tables come in, they have to raise their voices a few decibels higher than the first lot to make themselves heard. And so the chain reaction continues. Each table adding on a few more decibels to the one before.
So by the time we get there, it is a bustling mass of yelling happy people…all yelling at each other to make themselves heard.(Can you believe this. I had more success texting my hubby rather than talking to him over the mobile. Texting not much of a success as I hoped, as he was very much smashed.)
I’ve been to a Man Utd game and it was quieter than this. So quiet in fact, that my husband had to muzzle me when I said out loud, “What’s so good about Man Utd anyway. The other team is way better.” (Only a problem when you’re sitting in the Man Utd fan section.)
I was very tempted to bring out a loud speaker and make an announcement, “Ladies and gentlemen sorry to disrupt. Can we all stop talking simultaneously and restart again? Whispering is helpful and we can build from there.”
The food I have found has always been quick and reliable. Reliable in that service has been prompt and polite (to a point – they are busy) and food magically appears minutes after you order it.
Sometimes I imagine Spanish oompa loompas (complete with sombreros) in a production line churning out these dishes so fast. I mean. How else?
Paella Valenciana (fish, shellfish, chicken, pork) - £5.35. A tasty small plate only enough for 2 people. Not authentic but a nice filler.
Pulpo a la Gallega (poached octopus with olive oil and paprika) - £7.50. Highly recommended. Not tough and tasteless. Exactly the contrary. Fresh, tender with just the right hint of paprika.
Berenjendes de verano. Layers of fried aubergines, tomatoes, herbs and cheese - £5.30. Is there any dish that aubergine doesn’t just cosy up to? I’m very pro aubergine at the moment. Down Under we’re used to calling it AN EGGPLANT. Anyway this dish hits the comfort level – something akin to having a lie in on a Sunday morning with just washed sheets with extra soft conditioner. A big to do in our household as our cat Chloe loves to sleep and leave reminders on every single pillow in the flat. (Hair, people.)
Champinones al ajillo – mushrooms sautéed with garlic and chilli £4.55. Champinones don’t marinate that well as a rule, but these were excellent soaking up the garlic flavour.
Patatas ali-oli – fried potato with garlic mayonnaise £3.95. Tortilla Espanola £4.15 – a bit salty. Order only if you crave the carbs.
Vieiras con pancetta – sea scallops rolled in bacon and lobster sauce £6.25. Sounds delish. And it is. Lobster sauce was lost on me. They could have used Chicken Gravox and I wouldn’t have noticed. OK I exaggerate. Point is, I couldn’t taste the lobster.
Sardinas a la plancha – grilled sardines £6.95. Not my fav. Can’t really pin point why. I guess the sardines weren’t small enough to be confident about swallowing all the small bones and head without hacking like a cat with a trapped fur ball. Other friends loved it.
Chorizo Rosario £4.95. Again not a main fav of mine. Why? Just don’t like fatty sausages – especially when the white specks of fat are waving “hello” to you.
I’ve been to La Mancha approximately five times over the past 3 years. Consistent, efficient and dishes to please. Combine this with a jug or two of sangria and you get a festive atmosphere and a sore hoarse throat. Olè!
(Of note, our friend the Bottomless Pit, suffered from severe nausea and vomiting the following morning. Even though she did consume most of the chorizo and patatas (she does earn her name), we concluded another dining culprit must have been the cause. After all, we did all eat both dishes. I’ll just like to give a “big up” to her whilst she tours Europe with the infamous Contiki tour. An 18 to 35 year olds only tour more focused on “hitching up” rather than the sights. I’ll keep you posted once she returns.)