‘Mad Men’ gave us a flashback to Don's birth. ‘The Sopranos’ delivered the episode consisting entirely of FBI surveillance. But the first episode of season three of ‘Game of Thrones’ has no truck with such narrative trickery. It just gets on with telling the story, almost exactly from the point where we left it – and is all the better for it.
So yes, that means White Walkers. But we also catch up with most all of the main players, from a gloomy, brooding Stannis and a conflicted Jon Snow to an increasingly paranoid and peculiar Joffrey, juggling the political manoeuvrings of his potential wife and ever-conniving mother (unusually for ‘Game of Thrones’, they aren’t the same person). Best of all, inevitably, is Peter Dinklage’s Tyrion, jousting unhappily with his contemptuous, cantankerous old dad in a bid to re-establish himself in the royal court.
You couldn’t call it a blockbuster, but it’s a superb scene-setter, introducing a couple of new characters, bringing back an old one and exposing us to the latest creature not of our own Earth beyond the Wall. And did someone say ‘dragons’? Winter is here and, unlike the real world, we’re delighted about it.
'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.”