In the lead up to our move from Hong Kong to London, naturally I started keeping a lookout on Instagram for exciting London restaurants I needed to follow and add to my list of places to try. One such restaurant that enticed me with its beautiful pasta photos was Padella, right beside Borough Market. Can you imagine the excitement when I realised that this just happened to be a three-minute walk from our temporary abode?
Padella is all about pasta, and since everyone loves pasta (except, of course, the gluten intolerant and those who are terrified of the bathroom scales), it seems to gather quite a crowd for both lunch and dinner every day of the week. We quickly learnt that it was vital to get there early and put our names down. The average wait time for dinner is around an hour and a half, but they will take your number and text you when they’re ready for you, which in our case meant we could go home and sit on the sofa for an hour and a half! Even if you live miles away, there is enough going on around London Bridge and Borough Market to keep you happy until you are summoned.
Before we knew it, that text came through and we were seated at the counter overlooking the kitchen, from where we could watch the line of chefs methodically, yet lovingly, prepare each beautiful pasta dish. There was a clear system at play, from the first guy who carefully placed each pre-weighed portion of fresh pasta onto the boil, before removing it at just the right time and transferring it into a padella (pan), ready for the next guy to add the corresponding ingredients and toss it around over the hob, before transferring it to a plate on the pass, onto which another chef would grate a mountain of Parmesan cheese…
We began, as any good Italian meal should, with a basket of sourdough bread with Puglian olive oil. When you have olive oil that’s of such a high quality and freshly baked bread, you need little else to make you happy. The bread also served as a vessel for transporting the wonderfully creamy burrata cheese to our mouths. The burrata was served so simply, with just a drizzle of Fiorano olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper, yet it was absolutely heavenly.
Although we wanted every single pasta dish on the menu, we were able to narrow it down to two, starting with the Fettucine with Cobble Lane cured ‘nduja, mascarpone and lemon. This was utterly perfect, the ribbons of pasta deliciously al dente and the sauce carrying a satisfyingly spicy kick.
Even better, however, was the Pappardelle with 8 hours Dexter beef shin ragu, an incredibly rich and comforting dish that we simply did not want to end. Make sure to save some of the sourdough to mop up any remaining sauce from the plate, as it is far too good to waste.
There are only a few desserts on the menu, but, for us, it was an easy choice: chocolate sorbet. So called because it contains no dairy and no eggs, just 85% chocolate, cacao powder and, of course, plenty of sugar, this was rich, indulgent and absolutely scrumptious.
Service was very good and prices were surprisingly good too, with our meal for two (including one Negroni) amounting to about £35 total. One of my recent favourite restaurants in Hong Kong was Pirata Group’s Pici, and I can’t help but think they may have modelled themselves on London’s Padella. Looks like I’ve found my new favourite pasta place in London!
6 Southwark Street
London SE1 1TQ
No reservations; first come, first served.