Barcelona meets Fitzrovia in this happening tapas bar. Jamóns hang above the central marble bar, the yellow-ochre walls hint at days of nicotine-indulgence gone by and, as the evening progresses, the decibel level rises along with the animated chatter. Grab a stool at the bar or a seat at one of the wooden tables (booking recommended) and let the friendly, mainly Spanish staff guide you through the menu.
Cold cheese and ham platters, plus basic tapas (tortillas, croquetas and the like) are available all day, but at lunch and dinner the charcoal grill is fired up for daily and seasonal specials – such as fideua, a Valencian take on paella made with thin vermicelli-like noodles, on our visit cooked with scallops and punchy piquillo peppers.
Flavours are generally well judged. We couldn’t fault melt-in-the-mouth veal cheeks slow-cooked in PX sherry, or a dish of sliced carrots cooked to sweet and sour perfection with blood orange and raisin, although our jamón croquetas were a bit pappy in texture.
As at sister restaurant Copita, in Soho, the drinks list is a mustn’t-miss, with a range of sherries sold by the glass, from bone-dry to ultra-sweet, and an all-Spanish wine list that begs to be explored.
Vinos, finos and manzanillas are the order of the day. Boss Tim Luther previously worked in the wine trade, and is clearly an oenophile who knows his onions.
More than a dozen types of sherry are (for the most part) available by the 100ml or 375ml measure; a standard Tio Pepe is an eminently affordable £3.50. All types are clearly and intelligently described, with suggestions of food to complement them – yes, there is a full selection of tapas and, yes, they are indeed authentic. White wines are categorised by grape – albarino, godello – and reds by flavour. Serious and far wealthier Hispanophiles can pick out a UK rarity, such as a Llicorella pedro ximénez (£37) from Catalonia.