Ahh Tapas; the Spanish small plates that have taken the restaurant world by storm, one sharing dish at a time. You’ll find ‘tapas style’ portions served up by cuisines from all over the world – from Asian-fusion food to smaller plates of British grub. It seems that small plates have solved the serious problem that can arise when going out for dinner – food envy. Now we can just order thousands of dishes to the table and taste a bit of everything. The only problem with tapas is knowing when you’re full…
1. Toro Gordo
If there’s one reason to go to Hammersmith, it’s the not-so-hidden gem Toro Gordo. As soon as you step inside off the (let’s face it) rather grim high street, you’re greeted by a dimly lit, delicious smelling and flora-filled interior. Although a Spanish restaurant, the extensive tapas menu has a Japanese influence and you’ll often spot the odd soy or wasabi flavour thrown into the mix. The seared Tataki tuna is done to perfection – rare, flavoursome and falls apart on your tongue.
The dishes more firmly rooted in Spain are done equally as well; they have a daily changing selection of homemade croquettes and they get the balance between creaminess and potato balance right. If you’re a fan of prawns, Toro Gordo’s come thick, juicy and sizzling in garlic. Just as they should be. And the Padron peppers make the perfect extra for a bit of green nibbling. Choosing what to drink is equally as tricky as choosing your food. As well having a tempting cocktail selection, the various Sangria concoctions prove irresistible. Although perhaps a little high in terms of price at £34 for a jug, the Cava Sangria is fully-loaded with Cava, white rum and Cointreau, yet the lemon juice and orange syrup ensure it tastes like some delicious juice – a deadly concoction on a weekday night.
121 King St, London W6 9JG
2. 100 Islington
The team behind 100 Hoxton opened up this new joint back in June, serving up delectable small plates with a heavy Asian influence. The restaurant itself is very laid back, with little decorative quirks (there’s a fish in a TV set). The menu, which is mainly gluten free, is wonderfully varied. There’s an abundance of flavour-packed fish and meat dishes, as well as creative vegetarian options. The courgette and halloumi fritters are a particular favourite, as well as the braised octopus, which simply melts away in your mouth and leaves you wanting more.
270 Upper St, London N1 2UQ
3. Salt Yard, Fitzrovia
Combining a taste of both Spain and Italy, Salt Yard take a simple approach to food and it’s simply delicious. Courgette flowers stuffed with goats cheese and honey, one of their signature dishes, is an ultimate treat for the tastebuds. As you’d expect from a Mediterranean restaurant, there’s plenty on the menu for seafood lovers, including spiced white crab served with wood grilled peppers. You can also visit Salt Yard’s newer and smaller little sister restaurant, Ember Yard in Soho, which we reviewed last year.
54 Goodge St, London W1T 4NA
4. El Pirata, Mayfair
Although not cheap, El Pirata’s menu is not on Mayfair’s usual painful price range. Dish prices range between £4 – £13 and portions are generous. The plates may not be the most aesthetically pleasing tapas dishes you’ll come across in London, however they don’t disappoint in flavour. The restaurant, which is made up of a bar and dining area and further seating downstairs, offers a vibrant atmosphere and at peak times the tables fill up fast. You’ll expect to see a lot of men in suits and ladies who lunch, but you’re in Mayfair darling.
5-6 Down St, London W1J 7AQ