On a warm Tuesday evening in May, my companion and I were craving small plates and glasses of wine, ideally near work. And so to Arthur Hooper’s, tucked away inside Borough Market on Stoney Street and just down the road from El Pastor (and so probably why overlooked). Arthur Hooper’s offers the best of both worlds: with its doors flung open and seating spilling out onto to Stoney Street, it retains the al fresco market vibes of Borough, but within a smarter and more slick wine bar setting.
Set in a former Victorian fruit and veg wholesaler’s premises, known by the same name, it aims to celebrates its former life through an innovative fruit- and veg-centric European small plates menu. In this way, the site’s historical ties to the food and the local community have been lovingly restored. That’s what I love about London and Southwark/London Bridge in particular: the new and the old are interwoven so effortlessly well.
Speaking of the new, inside its tall ceilings, illuminated floor-to-ceiling glass cupboards, cool grey and black walls and dimly lit decor set the scene: very slick and contemporary. Black banquette seating with separate tables are surrounded by high tables and chairs, while at the corner bar you can grab a drink or dinner.
Not only is the décor impressive, but so is the food. Having cut her teeth at London Italian minimalist restaurant Zucca, chef Lale Oztek‘s menu is wonderfully veg-centric. I was stunned by the selection on offer and what’s more, they even had a vegan menu.
Each plate is described through three key ingredients and the simplicity, freshness and seemingly effortless co-ordination of core favourites. In tapas style, we shared a selection: Focaccia with olive oil (£4) to dip into our dreamy Buratta, Samphire and Almond Salad (£9.50) and Harissa Butter Beans, Charred Tenderstem Brocolli, Salted Ricotta and Nigella Seeds (£7).
The Focaccia was everything you’d want it to be: soft and fluffy, it was an ideal base to pair with the sublime buratta and the very well spiced butter beans: now that’s some luxe beans on toast for you.
We also shared the Baby Spinach, Radicchio, Onion, Crutons and Hazlenut Dukkah Salad (£4.50). Dukkah is probably one of my favourite spice mixes and it had been liberally scattered across the very punchy leaves. The quality of ingredients is top-notch. And it’s no surprise: produce is sourced from the local market suppliers, like Neal’s Yard, Cannon & Cannon and Bread Ahead. And the seasoning of each ingredient was spot on: this is probably some of the best tapas dishes I’ve tried.
Although most diners are drawn to Stoney Street for the adjacent El Pastor, Arthur Hooper’s shouldn’t be overlooked and better yet, you can book. A classy tapas spot that values people’s time: huarrah to that at the last. I’m going to have to return to try their Paccheri pasta pronto so watch this space for my thoughts on this dish…
Arthur Hooper’s, 8 Stoney Street, London Bridge, SE1 9AA