Michael Franke / Time Out
Time Out rating:
Time Out says
Posted: Thu Oct 18 2012
Despite growing competition, the Opera Tavern remains one of Covent Garden's best dining options and among London’s top tapas restaurants. Formerly a pub, it’s split into a slightly charmless upstairs restaurant and a cosy, mirror-backed bar at street level. The latter has been stylishly updated with chocolate leather bar stools, copper spotlights and an open grill; the main kitchen is in the beer cellar.
The Spanish-Italian menu is kept fresh with regular specials. The signature burger of juicy ibérico pork and foie gras remains deservedly popular, though more inventive combinations better showcase the kitchen’s delicate touch and careful sourcing of ingredients. Char-coated venison was enlivened by jerusalem artichoke, pickled walnuts and truffle, while the natural sweetness of scallops (served in the shell) was balanced by a feather-light pea, fennel and mint purée. Watch out, though: portions are dainty and it’s easy to rack up a hefty bill.
The Spanish and Italian wine list is well curated; smooth and nutty manzanilla pasada is the ideal aperitif for sherry sceptics. Little touches such as allowing diners a taste before committing to a glass exemplify the sophisticated, amiable service.
Opera Tavern is part of the Salt Yard Group, along with Dehesa in Soho and Salt Yard in Fitzrovia.
Opera Tavern 23 Catherine Street
- Venue phone:
020 7836 3680
- Venue website:
- Opening hours:
Tapas served noon-3pm, 5-11pm Mon-Fri; noon-11pm Sat; noon-5pm Sun
Tube: Covent Garden tube
- 23 Catherine Street
- 020 7836 3680
- 23 Catherine Street
- Opera Tavern
Average User Rating
3.9 / 5
- 5 star:10
- 4 star:2
- 3 star:2
- 2 star:2
- 1 star:2
II went to Opera Tavern to celebrate my first anniversary as a non-smoker, so I was very excited and ready to treat myself and my partner to a great meal. Also, a friend of mine had recommended Dehesa to me, which I believe is a restaurant operated by the same owners. The evening did not start well. As we got there the waitress literally harassed us until we ordered our wine. We did not take longer than 5 minutes to go through the wine menu, which is quite extensive, so it deserved to be studied. But she kept on coming around our table every minute to see if we were ready to order and unfortunately this behaviour carried on throughout the night, even though, we had booked our table in advance, we punctually turned up at 8:30pm and it was a Monday so the place was half empty from 9pm onwards. Then the "jamón de bellota" came to our table and I only needed to have a look at it to realise we had been swindled. How disappointing! As a Spaniard, I felt actually hurt. It was jamón serrano, yes, but not jamón de bellota as they claim (and charge for!). The real jamón de bellota has a very characteristic juicy look, intense smell and taste. The jamón we got last night at the Opera Tavern was dry and salty, rather mediocre. The rest of the food was ok. The Secreto Ibérico was very tasty so was the chorizo. But to be honest, by then I was a bit annoyed by the service and the jamón scam. I get asked a lot about Spanish restaurants in London as I am Spanish and tend to dine out quite a lot, but definitely NOT recommending this restaurant, such a let-down.
First timer in London and are overwhelmed with the quality of this establishment. Although the Tavern was full we were made to feel we were the only ones inside - such was the sincerity of their service. Food was intergalactic, and I will definitely be back, can't wait.
We ate at the Opera Tavern pre theatre, the tapas are the best I have ever tasted, the scotch egg, the scallop, the venison and frois gras burger were among the most scrumptious. Be prepared to pay, we were shocked by the bill in particular the wine, the tapas portions are very small, one scotch egg, one scallop. If you are treating a not so young, hungry, family I suggest you go to sample the delights and not to 'eat'. As an experience for the culinary delight of it, to tantalise the taste buds, go for it, enjoy and make sure you order a decent bottle of wine.
Would highly recommend this restaurant! A really great menu to choose from and the food is truly exceptional! A bit pricey but it is totally worth it! The staff were great also!
Visited with a work colleague one Friday evening. Arrived around 7:45 and luckily managed to grab 2 seats at the bar. That the was the last bit of luck for the evening. Having had some very pleasant nibbles and wine were informed that the gas jets has broken in the kitchen and it was closing. Ahh I thought not a problem, some cheese and wine would round of the evening well. NO, cant do that says the barman. I am puzzled. How does a lack of heating effect the slicicing of some cheese? It was very clear the staff had made the decision to abandon ship at the first sign of trouble and essentially enourage the clientel to do likewise. I would have expected far more from an establishment of this calibre. V dissappointed. Thankfully a nearby wine bar was more than willing to provide some very decent cheese and wine. With the recent deterioration in the Salt Yard, I am begining to wonder whether the owners have taken their eye of the ball of late. A shame as past experiences have alwasy been good. There are too many decent places in London to eat to adopt this behaviour.
Booked this place for a works Christmas party. The food was sensational and the atmosphere was busy but not loud. Only thing I would recommend was increasing the bar to serve sangria or margarita as we were pretty disappointed we could complete our spanish styled dinner
I went for dinner here on my birthday. The staff were very pushy about booking/ waiting for a table (we were 10 mins late and they gave our table away without even calling us!) but the food was delicious and once we were seated the service was lovely. I'd recommend their tomato, mozzarella and peach salad or their scallops. Wine was exceptional too. This is a sexy, sophis place to dine - if you can get past the sulky staff on the door...
We chose to go here based on the reviews on this site. We did not book and were a family party of four. We were seated at the bar by the tight lipped, terse woman at the door after she spent some time studying her reservations sheet and informed us that all tables were booked. She still did not get it right as we had our entire meal and left whilst tables lay empty behind us. The male bar staff were ok rather genial but it was rather chaotic. As for the food, the portions are tiny. Am not sure why the chef felt he could improve on patatas braves by turning them into chips. The tortilla is good. The octtupus was ok as was the crab salad. The lamb was succulent but only one cutlet per protion.More fresh items woud be good as there is a heavy emphasis on fried or grilled items. Don't have the bread with olive oil as it is chargrilled which means burnt stripes. As we were paying another terse unsmling female member of staff cleared our plates and laid fresh ones for the next clients before we had got up! There is a charity charge of £1 added to the bill.As a bar it works for drinks but not for tapas. It is too uptight.
Loved this place. Ok, so it's not the cheapest tapas in the world but the food was fanastic especially the pork pressa and the service just the right level of attentiveness. Lovely atmosphere. Next time I'd like to try the downstairs bar for a glass or two and some charcuterie. Would definitely recommend!
Very impressive. On a recent trip to London I tried a few of the current hot restaurants and this was by far my favourite. The mini iberico pork and foie gras burgers are simply outstanding, one of the best things I have ever eaten. Lamb cutlets also excellent the pork pressa, the jamon, the classic tortilla, the list goes on. Also great rioja. I need to visit again very soon. Truly excellent.
Celebrated a very special birthday lunch with family & friends. Had set menu for 8 covs in upstairs restaurant. Food,wine,welcome,service,pricing,staff product knowlewdge fautless. Cannot recommend Opera Tavern enough. Look forward to our next visit.
Simply excellent in every department, on a par with Barrafina and simply one of the best tapas restaurants in London
I had a brilliant time at Opera Tavern! I had the pleasure to meet a few days ago two members of staff and I was really looking for to having a meal there. As appetizers, I had a glass of Proseco, the Crispy Iberico Pigs Ears, the Padron Peppers, the Venitian Style Sardines. To follow, I had the Octopus and Chorizo with Cucumber and Pomegranate, the Mini Iberico Pork and Foie Gras Burger and the Grilled Iberico Pressa with Capers. I even had a second Mini Burger as it was so delicious! To go with that I had a glass of Selva Capuzza, from the Lake Garda in Italy. Perfect. I had a warm welcome and I have been very well looked after by the owner and all the members of staff. It is good to know that there is a wonderful place in the middle of Covent Garden area where you can have really tasty Spanish and Italian food in a pleasant atmosphere! I will be back soon with friends! Thank you guys! Francois F
Went to this restaurant last night... Would I go back.. No.. There were 4 of us and the tapas meals we ordered would not feed 2 or even 1. Don't buy the champagne, it's a very cheap bottle, for a very expensive price, it was bought for a surprise for my sister and bro in law wedding anniversary... Also check your bill, you could get charged for items you did not receive ... very disappointing
My friends and I met here for lunch (I chose the restaurant based on the reviews on TimeOut.). We were met by friendly staff and shown to our table. It's not particulary roomy upstairs and we were very cramped next to each table. In fact the tables were so close I had to breath in and squeeze through a small gap virtually sitting on their plates and I'm not a big lady!! Once sat at our table we idly chose from the Tapas menu being advised that 2-3 dishes per person was usually ample. We chose pigs ears, cheese, salad, fried potatoes, chicken and chorizo, duck and salmon. Tapas it was not. We literallly got 2 small fork fulls (and only 1 mouthful of duck) each!!! What we had ordered would have been fantastic for 1 person, maybe stretch to 2 people if neither of you were that hungry but sharing dishes, I think not. They were delicious but we went elsewhere for pudding, we needed filling up! I would go back again but only on the understanding that I didn't have to share a thing and we a purse full of money. It wasn't a cheap place.
absolute gem ,will give Barrafina a run for its money, Emmanuelle gave fantastic advice on wine, everything was top drawer well done
Tried Opera Tavern this evening came without booking. Greeted by the host who quickly got his attention to other people who were just passing through for their table or to go upstairs (making us feeling ignored and almost felt un-welcomed). Find their food to be very very good and innovative, dont mind the prices at all athough they are quite on the pricier side (for this side of town). Waiters kept on taking away our unfinished food, service was terrible. I honestly can say their staff is lacking quality of service standard. I know its a new restaurant and its buzzing most probably all the time since they opened, however its those little thing such as staff being attentive and welcoming their customers that will entice me of returning again. As said, food was very tasty and nice. We enjoyed it very much. But the lack of service skills, uh oh... they need to work harder on that. Just a thought. I rather go to Elpirata de tapas on Notting Hill, same kind of food if not better and staff are always friendly and welcoming.