Posts Tagged ‘Traditional Tapas Bars’

Cuisine: Contemporary seasonal Spanish tapas.

Visit: March 2013

Price: Medium (very reasonable for central London as both the quality of food and the portions you get are well above average).

Refreshing Spanish salad at Fino

Refreshing Spanish salad

Food: Contemporary twist on traditional Spanish dishes. If you select from the classics such as the Jamón de bellota senorio (Bellota ham), ham and  piquillo croquetas (deep-fried and battered potato balls with ham or not spicy sweet red peppers) Pimientos de padron (small green peppers fried and served sprinkled with crunchy salt) and sliced Manchego cheese (hard sheep cheese from Spain), you cannot  go wrong. All these tapas are indeed very good and authentic.

Choosing something perhaps less common for a Spanish tapas bar table might be interesting for those of you preferring innovative and less oily dishes in the style of the popular London-based chef José Pizarro. One such treat are the Crisp fried artichokes, that look like a lovely flower decoration, but taste like real artichokes. Fried just enough, with no oil dripping from the crisp vegetables and the mayonnaise-based dip is rich yet spicy with some hot paprika powder sprinkled over it.

Crisp fried artichokes

Crisp fried artichokes

Another, more refreshing contemporary tapas is the Fennel, radish & pomegranate salad. It is so crisp and zesty that it reminds me of spring and sitting on the beach by breezy see. Lovely salad that can freshen up your palate between the fatty meaty, fried and cheese dominated spanish dishes.

With wine the bruschetta-style toasted bread goes very well. The Pan con tomate is great with young red wines or refreshing white Verdejos. It is rather a big slice of bread and not a tiny piece of baguette, so be ready for a proper sized plate. The juicy tomatoes spread over the crunchy bread balance the dryness of the toasting process.

Pan con tomate

Pan con tomate

From the seafood the grilled Octopus & capers served on a wooden tray is very good, although a larger portion than is common for a tapa. The multiple pieces of baby octopus were tender, not chewy and spiced just right.

Fino sandwich

Fino sandwich

The deep-fried Fino sandwich is as its name suggests the signature dish of Fino so we had to try it. The name of the sandwich is also a bit deceiving, but you have to try it. I will not tell you what it is all about, but picture below can give you a hint. Just come to Fino and try it for yourself, it is quite interesting and if you like something crunchy and are not a vegetarian you will probably like it a lot.

Drinks: The mostly Spanish wine list is very good. Depending on how deep into your pocket you have, select one of the the top ranked Ribera del Dueros (such as the Vega Sicilia Unico), the middle-of-the-road Priorats or one of the more affordable Riojas. Red wine is in general a better choice because of the richness of the food, nevertheless a crisp Verdejo or deep Godello for an aperitif is a great start and both will surely go well with the seafood dishes. We went for one of the newer wines of the Alvarez family, of the Vega Sicilia fame. Their Alión Cosecha 2006 is deep and structured Tempranillo expressing in its concentration the dry climate of the  Duero area. Complex wine with very long finish that calls for intense dishes to match.

Ribera del Duero with jamon

Ribera del Duero with jamón

Atmosphere: Modern, fresh, fun and vibrant. There are many people coming straight after work, so you will see some ties there, but overall you can wear something casual. Comfort lovers will love the cosy booths, bar fans appreciate a corner bar area with views of the restaurant, curious minds will surely often peak into the open kitchen and exciting interiors seeking crowd will be amused with interesting decorative finishes. It is a great place to go with friends, business partners not relishing overtly pretentious gastronomic restaurants or bringing there a first date since it does not feel too intimate.

Cosy interior of Fino

Cosy interior of Fino

Opening hours: Mon-Fri 12:00–2:15 pm, 6:00–10:15 pm, Sat:6:00pm-10:15pm , Sunday: Closed.

Address: 33 Charlotte St  London W1T 1RR, United Kingdom

Contact: Tel: +(44) 20 7813 8010

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Seville’s breathtaking Cathedral

Seville is one the most beautiful European cities with history so vibrant that it attracts million of tourists from all over the world year after year. The city never stops. Whether the culprit of sleepless nights and energy-boosting locals are the thunderous bells of the cathedral reminding you every hour, not, every 15 minutes that time passes with their powerful ding-dong, remains a mystery to me. But, I would bet that the always-open tapas bars may play a small role in Sevilla’s lively scene.

Having an opportunity to eat and drink out any time of the day one would possibly desire to, is a subject of imagination of many outgoing travelers. Seville brings it to reality.

The locals can have a little bite as early as 7am before they get to work, continue with a stand up lunch and a song or two, and right after work – whether at 4pm or 8pm – jump once again straight to one of the hundreds of tapas bars in the town.

Those looking for the traditional atmosphere and authentic cooking will head to one of the older establishments. Some of these with history spanning over three centuries.

El Rinconcillo

El Rinconcillo

house has been serving food since 1670 making it one of the oldest, if not the oldest, tapas bars in Seville. Its ‘back in the times’ atmosphere will transfer you back to Seville of the 17th century. Busting, life-full, beautifully decorated and with upbeat staff serving hundreds of hungry and thirsty excited tourists and locals alike. The fact that you find locals at El Rinconcillo is assuring of its quality and authentic atmosphere.

Stand-up “table” at El Rinconcillo

Only in Spanish menu & chorizo













The only minus is that you will have to stand while nibbling on your tapas and sipping on your drink. There are sit-down tables only for the restaurant, and who wants to eat a restaurant in a city famous for its tapas bars?? Also, you have to be quick to grab your spot at one of the tables along the wall or at something reminding a kitchen sideboard as we did at first. Then swiftly wave over the heads of customers at the bar at the bartender for some food. Do not expect any knowledge of English so just order whatever looks good to you on others plates or the staples such as tortillas and aceitunas (olives) and all kinds of Jamón, chorizo and queso (cheese).

We have started with Aceitunas Gordales, the local soft and juicy olives and a tapa of Chorizo Cular Iberico. Both simple and good, especially the spicy reddish chorizo. Later, he waiter handed us over the heads of the bar-diners a plate of Queso Puro de Oveja, hard cheese similar to Manchego from the nearby La Mancha region. The cheese is excellent with a glass of nutty dry sherry.

From the warm tapas we got Espinacas con Garbanzos, spinach sautéed with chickpeas and walnuts. A nourishing, yet very oily dish. Our favorite was one of the daily suggestions the Berenjenas Rellenas, a baked eggplant stuffed with chopped meat (often pork – ham), vegetables such as peppers or tomatoes and bechamel sauce with a touch of manchego cheese. It is in this recipe, where you can see the Moorish influence in the region once under the rule of the Islamic culture.

There are also plenty of desserts (postres) so if your sweet tooth desires you can taste one of their flans (caramel-based custard cake).

Slicing jamon at El Rinconcillo

The atmosphere is the main reason to come to El Rinconcillo, the food is also good, yet very rich and oily, so be prepared to splash it down with a couple of beers or wines. The Spanish are of beer and there are many local breweries to choose from. The wines by the glass selection is not wide enough for me, but a glass of red Rioja or Ribera del Duero and Tio Pepe sherry is not a bad although a limited choice to enjoy with two or three tapas.

Address: The Rinconcillo: C / Gerona 40 and Alhóndiga 2, SEVILLA 41003.

Contact: 954 223 183; info@elrinconcillo.es
Opening hours: 1pm to 1:30 am in the morning

Bar Estrella

is another ‘star bar’, in this case its name bears the translation as Bar Estrella means Star Bar. Open since 1936, it is also a grand-mother between the tapas children all around Seville.

Bar Estrella

It is a lovely place tucked away from all the hustle of the cathedral and other historic sites. Its advantage can turn into a drawback since it might be difficult to find it. I bounced into it by accident while lost in the maze of Seville’s narrow cobbled streets. What a discovery though! Its cosy small rooms decorated with old black and white photographs of old Seville and its inhabitants may overwhelm you with a bit of melancholy, but the great food, wine and beer will surely cure all sorrows.

Bar Estrella

Bar Estrella is famous for its Bacalao con Tomate, cod-fish with tomato sauce. The fish is very delicate and soft, the sauce is real – not a ketchup kind of stuff – as it is made from quality tomatoes, otherwise it would not taste so deliciously! With a glass of local dry white wine (Garrido Fino grape) with soft hints of green walnut Marques de Eliche from Bodegas Gongora, it is a light and healthy option after all these greasy tapas elsewhere.

Address: Calle Estrella, 3, Seville, Spain 41002

Contact: 95-456-1426

Opening hours: Noon-midnight

Bacalao con Tomate

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