Anna Dack was won over by the modern Spanish cooking at Tapas Revolution Shoreditch
In Spain, there’s no such thing as going out for a drink without a bite to eat. Traditionally, the bars of Barcelona will serve fruity glasses of Sangria alongside complimentary cheese plates, while the restaurants of Madrid will pop a few slices of jamón next to your bottle of Merlot.
Tapas are snacks, sometimes running into meals, which the Spanish eat care-free after falling into a bar for an hour or two of purposeless hanging out. Chef and Restaurateur, Omar Allibhoy, has rightly noted that Londoner’s are good at that too, crafting his latest opening, Tapas Revolution Shoreditch, into a safe-haven for rowdy diners – where eating tapas is as much a social occasion as a culinary one.
This became evidently clear as we joined the back of a queue filled with eager guests wanting a first taste of Allibhoy’s sought-after dishes. Spilling out onto the streets of Shoreditch, we admired the bustling interior over the shoulders of hungry visitors– a horse-shoe shaped bar seated waiting diners in the centre of the room, while small tables scattered the outside walls, overlooked by an open kitchen filled with legs of dry ham and the wafting scent of hanging garlic. The booming chatter of lively guests bounced off the walls and climbing into our stools, we soon found ourselves hollering away raucously with our neighbours.
The menu is grounded in tradition and divided into 5 main sections: ‘Los Huevos’ (eggs), ‘Jamón y Queso’ (Ham and Cheese), ‘Las Verduras’ (Vegetables), ‘Los Pescados’ (Fish), and ‘Las Carnes’ (Meats) – ideally, tapas dishes from each section are to be ordered casually, one dish at a time over the course of a conversation or evening. Settling in to pre-meal small talk, discussing impending work deadlines, love-lives and upcoming social plans, we picked a handful of dishes to suit the mood.
About three-sips into our Sangria, we immediately fell for the first dish to quickly arrive – tortilla de chorizo, a round, thick potato and egg omelette cut like a pizza which oozed from the centre. The smokiness of the hidden chorizo gave it a distinctive edge, and was quickly complimented by paprika-doused patatas bravas, arriving swiftly to add an extra spicy edge to the lingering flavours.
The free-range Jamón Ibérico (grain-fed Iberian ham) was perfect to nibble in-between dishes, giving off a nutty flavour and coming thinly sliced and extremely tender. Clear and to-the-point was the popular calamares fritos, which came deep fried to golden perfection and coated in a tangy alioli sauce, while fried pimientos de padrón (peppers) were also beautifully done: smoky and judiciously charred, sweet to taste and sprinkled with flecks of the finest sea-salt.
There are unusual dishes on the menu too, for those looking for something a little different – grilled marinated lamb skewers are not entirely Spanish, but exerts a force thanks to its sweet and spicy marinade. Similarly, the tuna carpaccio is something more suited to trendy Italian eateries, but this didn’t stop us moaning in delight at the deliciously soft cuts, coming coated in a delightful almond sauce and citrus vinaigrette.
When the dishes are gone, the drinks don’t stop flowing at Tapas Revolution. With a final gin & tonic in hand, enhanced with plum and redberry tea (surprisingly, Spaniards love their gin & tonics perhaps even more than us Brits!) we were quick to observe that if this new venue continues to burst to the brim during these cold and winter months, imagine how much fun it will be in the summer!
Tapas Revolution Shoreditch 58 Bethnal Green Road, Shoreditch, London E1 8JW
Words Anna Dack – a freelance food writer with a healthy appetite and hungry desire to explore London’s fastest and finest. For more follow @Dackery