Being a Vegetarian is a Huge Missed Steak
Meat followed by meat means the dedicated carnivore will find something to their taste at Macellaio RC Battersea but overall the eatery sends out just too many mixed messages
Review by Andy Barnham
While I have occasionally pondered being a vegetarian and gone the odd few days sans meat, I love a good burger far too much to forswear the food for the rest of my days. Ask my wife; I look forward to her birthday steak lunch as much as she does. So what to make of Macellaio RC Battersea, the fourth and latest offering from Roberto Costa? Located at the southern end of Northcote Road, the restaurant does fall into the SW11 postcode thus deserving of its ‘Battersea’ moniker, but unless you’re used to coming betwixt the commons (Clapham and Wandsworth respectively), the chances are you’re not going to dine here unless you’re a local.
In keeping with its name, Macellaio is the Italian word for butcher, the front of the restaurant is a large window into a freezer full of hanging produce with a manned counter just inside the door preparing all the cold meats. While wonderful to see the menu not only on display, but also available for (home) purchase. The interior decor plays on the themes of tradition and handcraft with some industrial thrown in while most of the decorations are handmade in Italy.
So, onto the menu, or rather the journal-esque newspaper showcasing the meat. Consisting of a handful of choices of small bites, starters and sharing plates, the obvious stars of the show are the dozen or so mains and grill options. T-bone fiorentina tops the menu followed by rib, fillet (all priced per 100g) and four choices of rump steak. It is definitely a case of meat, followed by more meat, followed by more meat. For those who can’t decide quite where to start, kick off the evening with home-made pepperoni and ciabatta; creamy and tasty, the pepperoni will help keep the wolves at bay. The chunkiness of my carpaccio was a pleasant surprise, and if the aim of the tartare was to showcase the quality of the beef, fresh and full of flavour, all boxes ticked. However if you like your tartare dripping with lashings of tobacco and Worcester sauce, then you’re out of luck. Moving to the mains, ensure you remove your hands from the table before the waiters stab the steak knives into the wooden top. While I’m all for healthy amounts of risk and not a signed up member of the PC brigade, even I’m sceptical of this practice. The filet steak was perfect while the rump, ordered medium rare, was a pinker shade of rare.
For desert, the teetotal tiramisu was suitably chilled and tasty, but heavy on cream and a little light on the sponge. Indeed, desert is a microcosm of Macellaio RC Battersea; lovely and tasty, but full of mixed messages. Specialising in meat and beef with a considered menu, there are over 200 wines on offer. The plain tartare would indicate confidence in the beef, but yet the carpaccio was almost drowning in olive oil. The restaurant offers a single, vanilla, home-made gelato based on a family recipe but calls it ice cream to avoid confusion. And the service? Jesus, our Spanish waiter was impeccable and friendly, but difference between him and the polite gentleman who came to the table twice couldn’t have been clearer than night and day; creepy doesn’t cut it.
Does this mean you should avoid Macellaio RC Battersea? I don’t know. Roberto claims Macellaio is a tourist destination, but as it stands I don’t believe RC Battersea isn’t good enough to be a destination; the interior leaves me struggling with corrugated metal sheets on one wall changing to black tiling at the back of the dining room and while Roberto insists the restaurant should not be too bright nor too dark, the reality is the window display does block out virtually all the natural light and the restaurant is very dark. And while all the wines come from small and traditional wineries, the fact there are over 200 on offer is at odds with the select food menu. And why rename your home made gelato as ice- cream as most people know what gelato is? Roberto is claiming for everything to be traditional; maybe you’ll agree with his vision and love it. I’m afraid I didn’t get that memo.
Enquiries: Macellaio RC Battersea, 124 Northcote Road, London SW11 6QU / 0203 8484800 / www.macellaiorc.com/macellaio-locations/clapham/