A few nights ago I went with a friend to visit Padella. I had been meaning to pay them a visit for a while, but had always been dissuaded by the queue which snaked most nights in an orderly line down the street. Even on a Monday. I’m really not a fan of queues, and had been avoiding Padella for that reason.
I needn’t have worried. They have had the (I think brilliant) idea of implementing a virtual queue. So, while we did have to wait a good forty minutes to get space for two at the bar, we were able to do it in the pub on the corner, drinking an admittedly very mediocre mulled wine while simultaneously feeling thankful, that we weren’t freezing our asses off.
I had thought that the reason the queues were so long was because the place was tiny. However, I find when led through the restaurant that the back of street level leads to a flight of stairs. There is about the same amount of space one flight down, a bit more perhaps. The decor is clean and simple. A seated bar stretches along most of the left hand side. Tables are dotted semi-haphazardly along the right.
We order the Ravioli of Neal’s Yard goats curd and marjoram butter, pappardelle with 8-hour Dexter beef shin ragu, and some Padella sourdough with Puglian olive oil to munch on while we’re waiting.
I really love bread. I mean REALLY. So the sourdough and oil definitely hits the spot while I’m waiting. The inside is chewy, salty and soft. The outside crust crunchy. My friend is a little underwhelmed. “It’s just bread” she says “with oil”. I’m not sure what she expected, since for all intents and purposes, we ordered bread with oil. She obviously doesn’t love bread as much as I do.
Our pasta arrives, and I fall in love with the goats curd ravioli. My friend prefers the ragu pappardelle which is convenient. I think it’s delicious too, it just feels a little more usual. The ravioli is more like an experience. The pasta is fresh and light. Perfectly cooked.
At one point I ask the waiter behind the bar “So, the pasta is all made here on site?” “Yes!” he replies enthusiastically. “All of it. If you concentrate real hard you can taste the sweat of the pasta maker”. My immediate reaction is to think that’s a little bit romantic, followed, a fraction of a second later by mild disgust. I suffer from ‘lack of poker face’, so it shows. “That’s a bit gross” I tell him laughing. “I don’t really fancy anyone’s sweat in my pasta. But I can appreciate the passion”. His face falls in concern “I was only joking”, he assures me “It’s all very hygienic, really!”
As much as I’m enjoying spending time with my friend, I muse, if she wasn’t here I could eat it all without sharing. It’s an absurd thought which I quickly dismiss, but the reason for it lingers. This pasta is bloody good. At least the best I’ve had outside my favourite joints in Italy. Better even. If I could go back in time, I would have ordered the salad to balance things out a little. And the burrata. And just about every other pasta on the menu.
Luckily I don’t have to go back in time. I just have to go again.
Address – 6 Southwark Street
London SE1 1TQ
Monday to Saturday 12:00 – 16:00 & 17:00 – 22:00
Sunday 12:00 – 17:00