The leafy suburb of Dulwich has been begging for a neighbourhood restaurant. It has plenty of cafes, but when it comes to dinner there is a sudden lack of choice. Finally, however, someone has answered the call. Leveraging the rampant success of their oyster bar in Covent Garden, Matt Lovell and Rob Hampton have brought us Walter’s.
Approaching the ex-Café Rouge shopfront, we could sense the buzz instantly. Walter’s, having only been open a month, was full. Our table was the only one left, which we were guided to by staff who seemed genuinely happy to work there. They also knew the recently-conceived menu inside out. Green flags all round.
The British-inspired menu certainly isn’t limited to the UK, and as such, we started with arancini. Often dense and oily, these orbs were instead crispy-on-the-outside, creamy-on-the-inside, laced with a touch of truffle. The next snack, an even lighter cod’s roe mousse, came with brittle shards of charcoal tortilla and a kick of espelette chilli. A confident start. Clearly, Walter’s ex-Ramsay, ex-Robuchon, ex-Hartnett chef knows his stuff. A staff-selected crisp Greek white was the perfect accomplice, flaunting Walter’s synergy between bar and kitchen.
Unable to resist anything that’s been cooking for a full nine to five, the braised ox cheek was a must. Served with a velvety blob of hickory-smoked mash, giant balsamic-roasted shallot and smattering of watercress, it was unforgettable. Unfortunately, the sea bass with garam masala and sea herbs will be remembered for its £32 price tag and little else.
Grapefruit sorbet that followed refreshed our palates, its bittersweet balance reminiscent of a negroni. A comically large old fashioned, sweetened with a hint of maple syrup, ended the evening on a deliciously boozy note. With some minor tweaks to the menu, Walter’s will no doubt become the neighbourhood restaurant Dulwich deserves.