By Nick Rider
Local residents and globetrotters Lisa Woolley and Stephen Lironi hope to bring ‘the best of Barcelona and Brooklyn to Crouch End’. They and their bright staff certainly do well at creating a cosy, laid-back, enjoy-yourself buzz. An old test-your-strength machine is only the best of the eclectic and slightly cranky accoutrements that combine with vaguely distressed decor at this imaginative tapas bar.
As chef they’ve recruited Pablo Rodríguez López, formerly of Barrafina and Morito. Lately, some London tapas bars have been showing culinary inventiveness; so far, Bar Esteban isn’t so much creative as focused on pure, contrasting, pick-me-up flavours based on top-quality fresh ingredients.
We were won over straight away by the superbly authentic, punchy and fresh alioli (garlic mayonnaise) that came with our bread. The pleasure continued with subtly seasoned grilled mussels, crisp and creamy serrano ham croquettes, vibrantly delicious coca de escalivada (flat bread topped with roast peppers, onion and aubergines), and rabo de toro (slow-braised oxtail) with a richly textured flavour that really showed the worth of painstaking, skilful preparation.
The wine list has some fairly unusual, non-standard Spanish labels from a wide variety of regions, and for drinkers, there’s no obligation to have a fixed number of tapas dishes. Bar Esteban is a great asset to Crouch End.
|Venue name:||Bar Esteban||Contact:|
29 Park Rd
|Opening hours:||Tapas served 6-10.30pm Mon; noon-3pm, 6-10.30pm Tue-Sat; noon-4.30pm Sun|
|Transport:||Tube: Finsbury Park tube/rail then W7 bus|
|Price:||Tapas £4-£10. Meal for two with drinks and service: around £50|
|Do you own this business?|
Average User Rating
4.4 / 5
- 5 star:19
- 4 star:7
- 3 star:1
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:2
Really great authentic Spanish cuisine, well priced and friendly service. Often full, which speaks volumes.
Great staff, brilliant kitchen, lovely relaxed atmosphere, cool decor, and a great wine list. Top marks Stephen. I seem to be there at least once a week.
Truly great food and a wonderful range of specials keeps interest high. No loud music just the sound of keen diners.
I'd just like to point out, that the one bad review of this place is from someone who did not even stay to eat the food, so unsatisfactory was seating apparently (???). I implore you to read it! My experience however, and that of the 10 other people I bought along to my birthday meal was one of complete food bliss and merriment. I adored the barely lit ambience. Staff were very accommodating and deserved of our big tip. Thank you Bar Estaban.
Bar Esteban is only a couple of years old but it has already attracted a loyal clientele. The tapas options are finger-licking good and the Spanish wines go down too easily. The vintage furniture, exposed bricks and wooden floors make this an absolute joy of a venue. Definitely the place to visit for a great night out.
Easily as good as an of the similar (more expensive) places in central London, but cooler and friendlier than any of them. A gem.
Edgy, attractive Spaniards, friendly and tasty food are what springs to mind when thinking aboutBar Esteban. The menu is varied, and features both traditional tapas (patatas bravas, tortilla, pimientos de padron to name but a few) and dishes with a more contemporary twist. The staff were so nice that even though we were half an hour late it did not matter. “Don’t worry… come and sit down at the bar” they said. The buzzy atmosphere made us feel even more welcome.
We ordered salt cod croquetas, cecina de Leon (air-cured beef), bread basket with olive oil and aoili, pimientos de padron, coca de escalivada (flat bread with roasted vegetables), plaice with asparagus and an interesting sauce (daily special) and pincho de pollo con romesco (chicken skewers with a nut and red pepper-based sauce from Catalonia, Spain). The croquettes were wonderful. They passed, with flying colours, the test that croquettes and fish cakes must go through; does it taste of real fish or just potato that spent a brief amount of time with some fish? The beef was also great and really interesting, a little like bresaola but more smoky and although it didn’t come with parmesan it had a definite hint of parmesan to it. The bread and aoili, pimientos de padron, flat bread and plaice were all very good. I especially liked the chicken as it was very succulent and the sauce was excellent.
£25 per head, wonderful food and ambience, highly recommended.
My self and a group of friends booked a table for 8 after reading good reviews. On arrival we were shown to our table. The table that we were offered resembled a table that had be acquired from the canteen in a Primary School dining room, a long affair with attached low stools We asked if we could change tables as a family were in the process of leaving. The waitress told us that the other table had a booking in one and a half hours time, so we couldn't have it. We suggested that the other booking could have our table when they arrived. This was not possible with the waitress so we left and went elsewhere. It may be that the food in this establishment is good, we will never know. If people are paying quite a lot of money for a meal, comfort and ambience are also great contributory factors in a pleasant night out, which I think Bar Estoban need to think about .
Have been twice and on both occasions the food has been excellent , certainly on a par if not better than Central London establishments such as Fino and Salt yard. A relaxed and interested decor is complimented by some of the best service I have had in any London restaurant, warm attentive staff with excellent recommendations. On the 2nd occasion I took my 2 year old son who was made to feel like a prince with complimentary chorizo and salami , bread and an ice cream. To be honest it's a good job I do have a young child or I could see myself in here on a weekly basis.
In July I visited this restaurant. The food seemed a good quality and tasty. However, the overall experience was not good enough. It's extremely, hughly overpriced. Dishes are not small, they are tiny!!. Just four prawns for the 'gambas al ajillo' and £7.5, £7 for a few chipirones, etc... To have a proper and decent meal you need to spend lots of money to get full and, therefore to pay a huge bill. We received the platter of chorizo, salchichon, lomo and morcilla with no black pudding at all!!, so we paid £10 just for a few and small slices of meat. They forgot our meatballs, staff came twice with food we did not order. The waitress cleaned our plates without having finished, she even took a bottle of coke one of us was holding in hand as the drink was not even finished either!!. She was stressing us all the time. On top of everything, we were rushed and asked to leave our table because there were some other guests coming, so we just had a quick dessert to share. Not our fault they don't manage their bookings properly. We found extremely impolite to ask us to leave, after paying £100 for a bill. Customers should be allowed to enjoy their meals comfortable and finish it!!. They might have got another table after us, so maybe another £100, but this was my first experience and, definitely, my last one. I wrote to the manager to let her know. She replied saying that for a few days they did not have morcilla (black pudding) and that the waiter forgot to mention it. She promised me a refund, which I never got. She contacted me a few weeks later apologising because she had travelled to Scotland and she had forgotten.. One month later, as I hadn't receive anything, I sent her a new email. She told me that she had had some personal issues and that she had forgotten (again...) but that she would sent me the cheque. I never got it and we are at the end of October. So, not just the staff forget things, also the manager doesn't seem to be very professional at all.
Took my parents for lunch today. After extensive consideration we ordered all 4 specials from the blackboard - sardines, lamb cutlets, a broad bean dish, and skate. All were excellent, with the tender, cumin spiced, lamb cutlets the real stand-out. In all we ordered 9 dishes, which with a plate of jamon to start and a (free!) bonus dish of prawns was more than enough for all of us. While desert in many tapas places around town is often a bit of an afterthought, we were enjoying ourselves so much we decided to go for it. We had a delicious, tangy blood-orange sorbet, and the tarte de Santiago, which was great, though perhaps slight drier than expected. While we took our time and made things slightly tricky by moving tables, service throughout was pretty much perfect, friendly, good humoured and with some lovely touches like the free prawns, and a little taster of delicious sticky PX to go with our deserts which made us all feel relaxed and extremely welcome. The whole lot including a half bottle of fino and a few of glasses of wine came in at less than £35/head including service. I'm a bit fan of all things Spanish when it comes to food and drink, and for me Bar Esteban easily competes with many of the (more expensive) places in town. To have it as a neighbourhood restaurant is a bit of a miracle, and it's a worthy alternative to a trip into the West End even if you don't live in or around Crouch End.
We stumbled across Bar Esteban on a Saturday afternoon attracted by the specials of the day displayed on the outside board. "Clams a la plancha, Razor clams and rabbit with hazelnuts", these three specials were an absolute delight and very reasonably priced which doesn't hurt....and it opened our appetite so we followed with a slice of tortilla and a portion of the very yummy polpo (octopus) with paprika and potatoes....Even the green salad was tasty! The decor is quirky, tasteful and interesting, staff was attentive and friendly and the house wine made for a very decent lunch. Can't wait to go back and sample more of the menu!! Just wish Crouch End was closer to us....Want to try everything on the menu!!!