The offering at La Mandache, down St James Road in London’s Walthamstow, is fascinating. A combination of traditional Romanian and international dishes await you, and both cuisines are given enough elbow room on the list to allow the timid to remain within their comfort zones, and the adventurous to allow their palates to wander across a number of dishes that even the most global of gourmets are likely not to have heard of, let alone sampled. La Mandache is one of the few true Romanian restaurants in London, and the place also plays host to a number of traditional Romanian touring bands, so your tastebuds and ears can be treated to Romanian hospitality at the same time.
Romanian cuisine is already a mish-mash of various culinary traditions, strongly influenced by Ottoman cuisine but taking in the flavours of nearby national cuisines – German, Serbian, Bulgarian, and Hungarian. This all makes for a tantalising range of dishes, many of which can be found being created in the Walthamstow kitchen of La Mandache, down St James Road. London is without a doubt a global culinary capital, so it is heartening to have such a restaurant on the map. Romanian restaurants are rare creatures, and La Mandache’s opulent premises and eloquent, elaborate selection does the tradition proud. Try one of the many ciorba, Romanian soups, for starters, before turning to the traditional or international main dishes.
As with the traditional Romanian selection, La Mandache’s international dishes are beautifully curated and presented. Italian cuisine is writ large here, as is French, but you can still find hints of Romanian traditions in amongst the international dishes on offer. It’s fusion here, but with the lines and rules of engagement more clearly drawn than is usual. It’s also important to note that La Mandache’s mandate extends beyond waving the flag for Romanian cuisine. Some nights, this stylishly appointed restaurant down St James Road in London’s Walthamstow transforms into a salon where Romanian bands play live, the perfect side-dish to some real Romanian grub.