Mistaken identity. Funny foreigners. Sham marriages. Poorly domesticated animals. Class consciousness. Lashings of slapstick. To watch ‘Blandings’ is to realise that PG Wodehouse’s knockabout tales, for better or worse, enshrined many of the rules for the British TV sitcom. And Guy Andrews’s light comedy proves a perfectly charming diversion, bowled along by fine performances (Timothy Spall is superb as the perpetually bamboozled Clarence) and the potential for farce offered by the amorous entanglements of callow young Freddie and Gertrude, this week romancing a Portuguese dancer and oafish Reverend ‘Beefy’ Bingham respectively. Sometimes one does yearn for a character with an IQ over ten (Mark Williams’s wry butler is a little too enigmatic to count), and it’s undeniably slight, but it’s carried off with real charm and craft.
'Escocesa’ is Spanish for ‘Scottish’ – a clue to the set-up at this new Stoke Newington tapas bar. It’s the second restaurant opened by Ayrshire-born, ex-record producer Stephen Lironi. (Crouch End’s Bar Esteban was his first.) For this more sleekly decorated but equally laidback N16 gaff, he’s stuck with executive head chef Pablo Rodriguez (who trained at Jean Luc Figueras in Catalunya, then Barrafina and Moro/Morito here in London), and Bilbao-born manager Naroa Ortega. Church Street is roughly a third of the way from Sauchiehall Street to La Rambla, and Escocesa is clearly two-thirds Spanish. Menu staples include juicy pan con tomate, piquant patatas bravas and tortilla that yields easily under the fork. The fried baby squid is crisp not greasy. Still, the Calendonian accent is strong, with Scottish seafood among the specials: scallops from Ullapool, langoustines from Lochinver. Highlights like these (and a borderline-obsessive sherry list) show Escocesa’s serious passion for good sourcing. This is the kind of London local that believes quality isn’t just for la-di-dah Zone One restaurantland. On a rainy midweek evening, Escocesa was already buzzing by 7.30pm. Still, when the waitress realised she’d given me a table for four and the booking was for two, she insisted I stay put, and didn’t hover impatiently while my friend’s bus crawled up from Essex Road. There is no wild experimentation here, but the flavours work. Flaky salt cod came with succulent beetroot and oran
Venue says: “Our chefs visited the best arrocerias of Valencia to uncover the secrets of great paella. Available for lunch at the weekend. Muy bueno.”