We’d gladly revisit Cigala for its unusual by-the-glass sherries and its heavenly salt cod; our most recent visit also saw a sublimely nubbly almond and medlar tart. Set on a lively street corner, it’s a light, modern sort of place, with big windows, whitewashed walls, and pavement tables on warm days.
On a weekday lunchtime, the room was more than half empty – just a few elderly diners and local businessmen – but the sizzle of oil and sound of Spanish coming from the kitchen were enough to whet our appetites. Cigala’s owner/chef Jake Hodges (also a co-founder of Moro) has scoured Spain for its best dishes and added a little élan of his own. The cooking can be slapdash – our grilled cuttlefish was partly raw – but slip-ups are rare.
A smoky, splendidly macho pork chop was vibrant with lemon and rosemary, and accompanied by crisp, liberally salted fries. Rabbit and pigeon terrine was punchily meaty and came with pickled carrots, a pleasing departure from the Spanish veg-phobic norm. Our León-born waiter took some warming up, but his gruff manner was nothing if not authentic.
The creation of Jake Hodges, former head chef and co-founder of Moro, Cigala is built on his uncompromising attitude to sourcing only the finest ingredients for his authentic Spanish national and regional dishes, perfected while he lived in Spain.
Main dishes include Paella de Pollo - rice with chicken and chorizo and Fideus de Marisco - noodles with seafood. A vast choice of tapas including Espinacas a la Catalana - spinach with raisins, garlic and pine nuts, and Higado a la Jerezana - pan-fried chicken livers with softened onions and Pedro Ximenez should be accompanied by the delicious homemade bread, aioli and olives and complemented by a selection from the excellent wine list.
And while Hodges is keen to include the best in class from across the Spanish regions, he is not afraid to put his own twist on the menu - his Mulhacen dessert, which contains orange and saffron jelly, bitter chocolate mousse and black bean ice cream and chilled Tarta Whisky are entirely his own and should not be missed.
Whilst Cigala provides an intimate dining experience, it also offers al fresco tables and a private room and bar for parties of up to 40 people. There is even the option of a disco ball!
54 Lamb's Conduit Street
|Opening hours:||Meals served noon-10.45pm Mon-Fri; 12.30-10.45pm Sat; 12.30-9.45pm Sun|
|Transport:||Tube: Holborn or Russell Square|
|Price:||Main courses £12.50-£19. Set lunch (noon-3pm Mon-Fri) £17.50 2 courses, £19.50 3 courses; (12.30-4.30pm Sat, Sun) £16 3 courses|
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Average User Rating
2.5 / 5
- 5 star:3
- 4 star:1
- 3 star:0
- 2 star:0
- 1 star:6
They have definitely turned the place around since the reviews here from a couple of years back. Our tapas - squid, guinea fowl, pigeon breast, rabbit croquettes, clams and lamb meatballs were all delicious. The two waitresses were very friendly. I would definitely recommend.
I cannot recognize the restaurant described in the other reviews. We have gone to lunch at Cigala once a week for the last month. Each time we have had the weekly lunch special. The food has been great -- we'll cooked, fresh, and seasonal.
We decided to try Cigala as it is closer to home than Morito and fancied treating ourselves to a mid-week meal out. The restaurant looked charming and smart from outside and there was no problem getting a table. The service was prompt and friendly enough and we enjoyed a fairly priced carafe of red wine. But upon the arrival of the first plate of tapas we soon realised why there hadn't been a queue out of the door like we have come to expect from other tapas places in the area. We ordered bread and oil to start. The bread was burnt- not just a little brown but actually flaking off bits of charcoal. The oil was poured into a tiny saucer and then promptly whipped back to the kitchen. Getting such a simple item wrong didn't bode well for the remainder of dishes to come. The olives were so overripe that they were decomposing into mush in front of us on their plate. The ox tongue was cold and congealed, the mussels in garlic and white wine sauce were so overcooked that there was no sauce left, only the unpalatable aftertaste of burnt garlic. And perhaps worst of all, the baked aubergine - supposedly baked with feta cheese and mint, neither of which were at all detectable in the mushy grey lump presented to us lukewarm, probably straight from the microwave. A just about edible meal for two with a carafe of wine came to £40 (with £4 of service slapped on without much opportunity to protest). Despite it being on my doorstop, I will not be going back any time soon.
On its website Cigala describes itself as a place that “hums with professional excellence”. On our visit, for a mid week lunch, nothing could have been further from the truth. We opted for the reasonably priced lunch set menu containing a meat, fish and vegetarian option for main course. All our party of four favoured the fish option but we were told that only one portion was left. This was at 1:15 in a half empty restaurant. The management could have easily substituted another fish option from the a la carte menu but made no attempt to do so. After ordering promptly we sat back and waited, …..and waited. The service was abysmally slow, despite the fact that, as noted, the restaurant was not busy. Three of us ordered a simple dish of revueltos with chorizo for a starter and it eventually arrived cold. When at 2:15 we pointed out we were still waiting for our main course we received a surly response from the waiter. The main course arrived and the dishes were subsequently cleared away at 2:50, but only after I had left the table to go in search of the house manager in an attempt to obtain some service. Not wishing to incur further extended waits for dessert and coffee (which we had originally intended to have) I asked for the bill and made clear I did not wish to see the word ‘service’ and any associated charge appear anywhere in it. This, at least, the manager complied with but he made not the slightest attempt to explain or apologise. We will not return and I would advise others to follow suit.
On Friday I had the worst meal I have ever had at a restaurant at Cigala. I have been there several time before and always enjoyed it but will never go back. The waiter as rude and surly. The food was disgusting. It arrived within four minutes of ordering it and even that wasn't long enough in the microwave to heat it up properly from yesterday - or before. The tortilla - a slimy grey mess - was probably the worst of the dishes, but it's hard to pick between that and the lukewarm, undercooked meatballs, anchovies curling up with brown edges and the shrivelled cod fritters. We arrived at seven and were looking forward to a glass of wine and some almonds before some leisurely tapas - instead we were finished by 7.40 having had everything dumped on the table at the same time, except for the wine which came much later. A truly horrid meal. Thank goodness for the lovely waiter and waitress at Strada in the Brunswick centre where we had a second meal to take the taste away!
We have been going to Cigala since it opened. This week we have eaten at St Johns and Gt Queen St. We know our food and like to eat well. I think that CIgala has been overtaken by better quality places if you want good Spanish/Portuguese or tapas food then Pisarro in Bermondesy; Eyre Brothers nr Liverpool St, and Brawn in Jesus Green or Morro in Exmouth Market are similarly priced but with much better food and welcoming owners. The staff at CIgala try their best, but the owner is a charmless witch and they are getting away with putting out poor quality of food and then blaming the customers.
Great restaurant, fresh food, friendly saff and always very busy. Can be a bit noisy. Always book when in town,
I had a meal here last night and the staff were extremely aggressive and confronting. I would never eat here again and my advice to anyone thinking of trying it out would be think again!
Went with partner who was receiving treatment at a hospital close by. Looked fresh from outside so in we went. Ignored by waiter (despite restaurant being almost empty) so we chose a table for ourselves and sat down, only then to be told rather brusquely by another that it was reserved (though no sign to say so!) – nevertheless we decided to stay and found another table. Waiter then came over with bread and oil which he proceeded to spill on the table whilst pouring it ,as he was looking out of the window. Bread was stale though we were told by the manager that customers came back for it! (I know what Spanish bread tastes like and this wasn’t it!) Most of the tapas dishes were quite nice actually (if rather overpriced) though the baby crabs had absolutely no meat and were taken back, albeit rather ungraciously. At least the manager had enough sense to remove the service charge from the bill but we won’t be returning!