Argentine/Kiwi cuisine at the same time? Lola&Simon, a restaurant in Hammersmith
I lived in Buenos Aires for 3 years back in the day so I know a bit about Argentine cuisine, even if I was a vegetarian for 2 of those 3 years. Yes, I know, how could I, was I mad, etc… One thing I can say is that I’m a pretty good judge of Argentine cuisine. I can also tell you that when I visited Gaucho at the O2, I was deeply disappointed. The food bearing only a passing resemblence to anything I’d ever eaten in BA.
So, it was with some trepidation that I went to Lola & Simon, an Argentine/New Zealand (?, yes, I’ll get round to that in a second) restaurant in Hammersmith for the launch of their food and wine tasting menu. Lola & Simon is run by a charming Argentine/Kiwi couple, Nico and Kirstin – that’s where the NZ connection comes from. Their idea was to serve the best of these two Southern Hemisphere countries from the lamb and mussles of NZ to the steak and emapandas of Argentina.
The wine list is also a mix of the two countries with over 50 wines currently on the list and they are set to add another 15 wines in the next few weeks. The specialize in the flagship varietals of each country, malbec from Argentina and pinot noir and sauvignon blanc from NZ. They are taking every step to ensure their customers can enjoy the wine at it’s best, even installing wine preservations machines behind the bar.
Last week was the launch of the food and wine matching flights and platters. They’ve started with the malbecs and are offering 2 flights of 3 wines (50ml each) each paired with an Argentine ‘tapa’ (for lack of a better word). They’re calling it, Mad about Malbec.
The first flight consisted of Picada 15, 2007 Malbec, Luigi Bosca 2006 Reserve Malbec and Rupestre 2004 Malbec/merlot/tannat blend. The Picada 15 malbec was paired with tasty grilled veg in a basalmic reduction. Full on sweet cherries on the nose and palate, velvety soft, easy drinking but good quality, my notes tell me, and it was a good match with the veggies.
Next was the Luigi Bosca 2006 Reserve Malbec with mushroom risotto balls. A lovely wine, oaky, toasty nose with ripe red berries and lots of chocolate coming thru on the nose, great concentrated fruit and spiciness on the palate and a wonderful acidity with smooth, round tannins. A great food wine that was a welcome partner to the earthy, cheese risotto balls.
The Rupestre 2004 malbec blend was paired with one of my favourite dishes, provoleta. Provoleta is not to be confused with provolone. Provoleta is like a salty version of provolone. In Argentina they grill it with brushed with olive oil and herbs and dotted with pink peppercorns, which is just they way they served it at Lola & Simon! This wine had quite a floral nose at first and then loads of fresh berries with spicy cocoa notes floating about. A medium bodied red with great palate cleansing acidity which is just what that provoleta needed to wash away the salt.
I like the whole idea of wine flights matched with food platters. The next set was for the carnivores amongst us. Argentine chorizo sausage, empanadas filled with hand cut beef and provoleta cheese and pan seared cubes of Argentine ribeye and fillet steak all matched with 3 doozies. The Familia Marguery 2004 Malbec, the Colome 2007 Malbec and the Catena Zapata Adrianna 2006 Malbec. They really brought out the heavy hitters to go with the meats. There is a reason why Argentina wine and steak go hand in hand. These wines were rich and full with excellent tannic structures to stand up to all that meaty goodness yet also showed fabulous fruit character. “Yum” might not be a word professional wine writers use but I ain’t getting paid yet! All the food was expertly prepared and just plain delicious. Lola & Simon even fly in chefs from Argentina to man the grill, what dedication.
Their wines by the glass are priced starting at £1.60 for 50 mls, 3.25 for 175 mls and £5.5 for 250 mls and going up according to the quality of the wine. The restaurant also does breakfast, brunch and lunch besides dinner so if you ever find yourself feeling peckish in Hammersmith, this is the place to go. I really like the welcoming decor, friendly staff, great food and well thought out wine list. They plan to change the winelist every 3 months but I sure hope to get back there before then.
And who are Lola & Simon if Nico & Kirstin run the joint? They’re the two dogs of Nico’s parents back in Buenos Aires. And as the menu states, they don’t know they have a restaurant named after them in London.
Lola & Simon can be found here:
278 King Street, Hammersmith, London W6 0SP
T.020 8563 0300
Follow them on twitter @lola_simon