Saturday, 28 January 2012

A Pocket of Spain

One of the main things I’ve missed since moving back from Spain has been the food. Besides inventing the perfect excuse to nap mid-afternoon, tapas is easily Spain’s best contribution to the world. My flatmate and I made tapas bar crawling a hobby (best hobby I ever had) so it’s a relief to discover a tapas bar in the heart of London that effortlessly matches the quality of authentic Spanish food. Thank you Tapas Brindisa Soho for bringing a little pocket of Spain to cold, rainy London. Cosy and bright with its rustic red walls, this cafe-like tapas bar serves authentic dishes made with freshly imported Spanish ingredients. We arrived mid-week for lunch and already it was buzzing- any earlier and we would have queued for our seats. This is a bar designed in the style of proper tapas eateries- with the bar overlooking the kitchen and diners rubbing elbows with their neighbours as they enthusiastically tuck into their food. The only thing noticeably missing was the upturned wine barrels for tables, but hey you can’t have everything. 
Seated at the main tapas bar at the back of the restaurant- a bright airy space beneath a wide skylight overlooking the kitchen- it felt like we could have been back in Spain. Especially as the menu was slightly difficult to navigate - with its confusing subheadings, it may as well have been written in Spanish. However, once served, the food proved that steering through the menu was well worth it. The iberico recebo ham was delicious, fragile thinly cut slices that had clearly been cured and carved by a professional.  So, too, was the seafood: the octopus could easily have been served in any self-respecting Galician outpost, and the scallops in pumpkin sauce were great if slightly lukewarm. It was the morcilla tortilla that sadly let down the whole affair- tragically lacking in anything remotely resembling egg, it was more like a confused bundle of ingredients than a traditional pan-fried tortilla. Think omelette without the egg, or worse, a sandwich without the bread. Sacrilegious, isn’t it? For all their tortilla offences, though, this little tapas bar was a brilliant find. Sure, you won’t quite be able to tapas bar hop like any true Spaniard, for fear of fighting for a seat, but as a one-off place to enjoy great food, this should definitely be your first stop. If you play your cards right, they may even give you their famous croquettes on-the-house. Not sure what we did, but anywhere that serves free food gets my vote…
Tapas Brindisa on Urbanspoon

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