With its wine cellar atmosphere, attractive tapas menu and friendly Spanish/Irish staff, The Port House on the Strand is a cosy place to while away a winter's evening. Just two doors from the Adelphi, it's a new Irish-owned joint that reflects the current zeitgeist for all things Spanish.
The food, served in dinky tapas portions, can be a bit hit and miss though.The Spanish tortilla, though well seasoned, was overcooked, the mushroom croquetas bland and heavy, but we liked the lemony, salty whitebait, the garlic-laden pa amb tomaquet (Catalonia's answer to tomato bruschetta) and the crisply moreish churros with chocolate sauce. More creative options included scallops with cauliflower purée and powdered jamón ibérico - an unexpected hit - and a dull rendition of Spain's bawdiest cheese, tetilla (literally ('small breast'), deep-fried and served with honey.
Drinks are a forte. Wines (affordable and largely Spanish) are listed with maps and there's a good selection of gins, sherries and ports. The Dows white port (£3.90) made a luscious apéritif and we followed this up with an honest carafe of Celeste tempranillo (£18.70). With apéritifs, drinks, puddings and (top-notch) coffee, the £85 bill crept up on us; but the candlelit vibe, occasional high notes and absence of kitsch (no bull's heads or matadors in tight trousers) took some of the sting away.