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|Address:||102 Tooting High Street, Tooting Broadway, London SW17 0RR|
|Tel:||020 8767 1122|
|Price: £35.00||Wine: £15.50||Champagne: £40.00|
|Opening Hours:||Mon-Fri 7.30am-10.30pm (Sat 9am-) Sun 9am-10pm|
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My first impression of Tota wasn't great as we were sat at an extremely tight table that we could barely get round, right by the draughty door, despite having booked and there still being plenty of other tables free. Baffling. Thankfully when we asked to move to a more comfortable banquette further inside the waiters were very accommodating and service throughout the evening was friendly and polite. The menu shows dashes of unanticipated ambition for a neighbourhood restaurant: I had a really amazing light, fluffy cheese and leek souffle with beautifully complementary salty ham hock to start. My main of seafood linguine was most remarkable for the fact that it actually had lots of seafood (prawns, clams etc) in it, not just one limp mussel as is so often the case, and all fresh from the renowned Moxons fishmonger in Clapham. An intense chocolate salted caramel tart rounded the meal off nicely. The biggest surprise though is the wine menu, which is perfect for a local restaurant: short but sweet with a few big name grapes (the usual suspects like Pinot Grigio and merlot) and a few unconventional choices (like Gavi and and Malbec) for those who are slightly more adventurous but not aficionados. Plus they are all under £30 a bottle and come in carafes too. We had a lovely Torrontes from Argentina which you rarely see on a menu. I don't remember anything particularly remarkable about the atmosphere or decor- there are candles and a cosy hum from the many customers- but that's probably a positive as it means it was the perfect foil to our evening of catching up. I thought at the time that the bill at £50 a head plus service was rather hefty for a low-key dinner in Tooting but now I realise we had 3 courses of really quite unexpectedly good food and 2 bottles of wine between 3 of us it was actually pretty good value. A really well judged local and a total surprise of the best kind.