Number 22: Moving on up (October 2014)

Back with a new look and feel, Herne Hill’s Number 22 has the potential to become a well-established local favourite. Large windows, tastefully coloured walls (bold yellow in the back part of the restaurant, acts as a perfect foil to the light blue in the main part), a banquette around the left side and a beautifully tiled bar in the centre create an overall sense of warmth and welcome. This is somewhere one could easily pass any part of the day or indeed even the whole day. Owner Chris Adnitt and his team seem to have hit on the right formula, creating a relaxed vibe accompanied by good food and drink. Although heavily influenced by Spain, the broader impression one forms is of a wide range of Mediterranean influences. As with tapas (or sharing dishes generally), it is rarely the case that all of them succeed, but there were some absolute stand-out options at Number 22 and full credit to the restaurant for its original and inventive selection of options. Our group of six was able to sample almost all of the possibilities on the menu, working our way from snacks and tapas through to desserts via fish and meat mains plus vegetable sides, all of this accompanied by a range of sherries and wines. Among the highlights were the morcilla balls (somewhat akin to black pudding – although this would be doing the dish a disservice), rich and meaty, enhanced by a pleasantly light apple sauce and a tiny hint of spice. In addition, the pulpo (octopus) was amazing, juicy and flavoursome, simple and effective. We also highly rated the chicken (fragrantly flavoured with lemon and lime) and the side of two kinds of cabbage (very different – and it worked). Other dishes, however, were somewhat more pedestrian, and in particular, the tortilla – which ought to be the staple of any Spanish style establishment – was disappointing. Other positives though would include a lovely selection of cheeses with which we finished (Monte Enebro, a wonderfully creamy Spanish goat’s cheese, featured here, and would be on my dream cheeseboard) and also the well put-together wine list (we loved the Amontillado sherry and the Bobal red in particular). Pricing is very fair and given everything else, I would only expect Number 22’s reputation to grow.