There are many traditional dishes we instantly associate with Spanish cuisine, and at the top of that list is most definitely paella. Paella originated in the south eastern city of Valencia, but these days, many regions offer variations of the delectable rice dish – and here in London, we’re not short on spots to try Spain’s national dish either!
BiBo Shoreditch, located in the five-star Mondrian Hotel, has Michelin-starred chef Dani García at the helm; so, what better place to celebrate World Paella Day this year? The occasion fell yesterday, September 20, but there’s nothing stopping you from marking the occasion all through the week (or month, if you’re so inclined). As you enter the hotel, you’ll venture down the stairs to the restaurant where the delicious aromas waft from the open kitchen the moment you enter through the glass doors.
The paella at BiBo Shoreditch
At BiBo Shoreditch, you can choose from a whole host of toppings on your paella: octopus, roasted chicken and slow cooked Ibérico ribs to name just a few. What’s more, the lobster paella has been a hit on Instagram, and there’s even a vegetarian option, featuring carrots, broccolini, kale and mushrooms. After much thought, we settled on the octopus paella.
‘Paella’ takes its name from the wide, shallow pan used to cook the dish on an open fire, and this sizzling pan is brought directly to your table at BiBo Shoreditch. Traditionally, paella’s yellow colour comes from saffron, but turmeric and calendula can be used as substitutes. However, in this case, ours was squid-ink black! With two generous portions of octopus utop the rice, this serving of paella is less intense in flavour compared to traditional paellas I’ve enjoyed in Spain or other Spanish restaurants, but still very moreish.
While the various paellas are available on the a la carte menu, BiBo Shoreditch’s weekend brunch also honours the national dish: paella with fried eggs and cecina. Sounds like a delicious hangover cure to us!
Don’t fancy paella?
BiBo Shoreditch also champions another Spanish favourite on their menu: tapas. And, personally, I enjoyed these even more than the paella. Our absolute favourite was the oxtail brioche – so good, we ordered another helping. The bun was super soft, the oxtail almost melted in my mouth, and the flavours were fantastic. If you’re after more of a show, be sure to order the chistorra al infierno: chorizo flambéed tableside. After the flames die down, what’s left is well-seasoned chorizo with a smokey, crispy outer layer that goes perfectly with a serving of patatas bravas.
The restaurant recently launched a tapas and rioja evening, which runs during the week, Monday–Thursday. Between 6pm and 8pm, guests can enjoy a glass of rioja and two tapas for £17.
The drinks at BiBo Shoreditch
Of course, chef Dani García recommends accompanying your paella or tapas with a jug of sangria from the stunning focal bar at the centre of the restaurant. You can choose from two sangrias, the traditional or sangria blanca; I opted for the traditional version, which at BiBo, uses Cointreau alongside the red wine, resulting in a distinctive orange, almost festive taste.
Alternatively, there are a selection of signature cocktails, wine and other Spanish-style drinks to choose from. We found the signature cocktails were perfect for sipping, as many are strong, but with tasty flavour profiles; for example, the Double R has a kick, but a satisfying chocolate after taste, while the Cartaginesa tastes like an orange margarita.
At BiBo, expect beautifully presented dishes, in a refined yet welcoming setting. Oh, and the upbeat music makes it feel like a party, whatever day of the week. Make your reservation here.