Borough Market is hardly lacking in decent places to eat, but it’s also never been too rock ’n’ roll in the way that Soho or parts of east London are. The new Spanish restaurant Lobos – a moodily lit lair with a banging soundtrack – gives it some edge.
The dining room creates a sense of anticipation: Steppenwolf’s ‘Born to Be Wild’ blares from the speakers, and there’s a ground-floor bar serving sherry, cava, cocktails and wines from the decent all-Spanish list. Upstairs the main dining area is a narrow, dimly lit tunnel with intimate cubbies for couples, bare filament bulbs sticking out of the walls, and trains rumbling overhead. It seems fitting for a restaurant whose name translates as ‘wolves’.
The menu makes much of how the chefs use their instinct and acute senses to create dishes. Sadly, the plates we tried didn’t dazzle. A mini-tortilla, snug in its cast-iron frying pan, was far too dry. Migas – a simple Spanish recipe for leftover bread, served with morsels of bacon or chorizo and a fried egg – arrived slightly congealed and chewy rather than crisp. Presa ibérica – a shoulder cut of the Spanish pig that’s taking London by storm – was served sliced and disconcertingly rare, and bore none of the scars or flavour of the grill. We wished we’d plumped for the rib-eye steak with pan-fried foie gras, or perhaps the leg of Castilian milk-fed lamb, because fellow diners seemed perfectly content.
‘The wolf will always be evil if we only listen to Little Red Riding Hood’ reads a slogan at the entrance. This is a Spanish way of saying there are two sides to every story. Maybe that’s true at Lobos – go try it, and make up your own mind.