Wednesday, 1 June 2011
Despite all the rave reviews it gets, I've only recently discovered for myself the joy that is Tapas Brindisa at Borough Market. If you haven't been, go - eat ham, drink sherry, enjoy the buzz. I was earlier put off the Brindisa restaurants by an altogether ho hum experience at related Tierra Brindisa in Soho, which I couldn't even be bothered writing about. But now, at the same site, the restaurant has re-opened full of Madrid-like abandon, as a walk in tapas restaurant - another Tapas Brindisa.
Being in the neighborhood and with my ear to ground, I was quick to take up the 50% off soft opening offer tonight with my friend, the intrepid Rachel. There's a no reservations policy, so the sherry bar at the front was already bustling with a crowd eager to hoe into bite sized Padron Peppers, creamy Iberico ham and smoky chunks of chorizo as every table and stool in front room and back was crammed with happy, hungry diners. The room in the back has an open kitchen and a fiery grill, so be warned it can heat up in there. Extra Cava required.
From the Picoteo snack menu, try toasted broad beans and marinated Cantabrian white anchovies, or gorgeous, shrivelled little pan fried Padron Peppers (the best I've tasted) with some pan de pincel (toasted thick bread lathered in herb and garlic olive oil). We didn't try the hand carved, acorn fed Iberico ham (usually a must for me), but if its anything like that at the London Bridge branch, don't go past it.
The gambas al ajillo are large, meaty prawns served with big slithers of garlic and chilli still almost sizzling in the clay pot. Cured ham and chicken croquetas are lush and creamy pockets of oozy fun in a crispy, crumbly case, while grilled smoked chorizo on toast is a generous portion served with rocket and piquillo pepper.
Try a silky potato tortilla or fantabulous deep fried monte enebro - goats cheese with orange blossom honey and crispy beetroot. Oh yeah. There's even Presa Iberica (top shoulder of Iberian pork), marinated lamb or lemon chicken skewers - all straight from the parrilla (an iron grill).
Take all of the above with a glass of Cava or sherry and have yourself a good time. Actually, we lucked out on our wine choices, but there's plenty to choose from. It might have only been the soft opening, but it's already running like a well oiled machine - they make it all look too easy.
Our bill came to £40 per head (or £20 per head during soft opening) with drinks and service.
Tapas Brindisa Soho, 46 Broadwick Street, Soho, London W1F 7AF, Phone: 020 7534 1690
Or, if it's closer to home, try the lively Tapas Brindisa at London Bridge, 18-20 Southwark Street, London SE 1 1TJ (Tel: 020 7357 8880)