Here in Britain we are pretty used to the ingrained formula of the three course meal, especially when dining out, but sometimes it can be quite refreshing to throw convention out of the window and mix things up a bit. I’ve always loved the Spanish tapas style of eating. From a totally greedy point of view it means you get to try so many more dishes from the menu, but also I prefer it as a casual dining option because it’s more sociable. Getting together with family and friends over dinner doesn’t need to be structured into courses and given a two hour time slot (as is so often the case in London restaurants now). Ordering a selection of dishes that come and go as they’re ready is much more relaxed. I also find that when you’re sharing your food it becomes a great talking point to get the conversation going.
Recently I caught up with my parents and my sister for tapas at the Rupert Street branch of Brindisa. Nestled between Soho and Leicester Square, I really like the Rupert Street location as it’s much larger than most of the other Brindisa restaurants and has a beautiful central bar. The extra space makes it feel a little less crowded and a little more relaxed and inviting. Brindisa offers up quite a traditional Spanish tapas menu (although what’s traditional will vary massively depending on where you visit) but all the classic tapas favourites including albondigas and tortilla are there.
The beauty of tapas style eating at Brindisa meant that we were able to order a couple of dishes straight away and nibbled on these whilst still chatting away and catching up on family gossip. A couple of delicious plates of padron peppers (a family favourite) and salt cod fritters came and went whilst I was still persuing the menu and hadn’t even thought about photographing anything so you’ll just have to take my word for it that they were delicious. Padron peppers are such a simple tasty snack that I have often replicated at home, I’ll always order them if I spot them on a tapas menu. The salt cod fritters were so tasty that I was slightly gutted I only got to have one before the rest of my family gobbled them up!
As the evening continued, we also ordered a wedge of traditional Spanish tortilla, patatas bravas with salsa and aioli, marinated aubergines and (my personal favourite) a confit goats cheese dish served with beetroot crisps. A good mixture of traditional classics and more modern dishes, these all went down brilliantly with a glass of prosecco or two. The goats cheese in particular packed such a good flavour punch I’d have happily ordered another round.
We also chose to share one of the larger dishes from the menu which was a suckling pig leg. This is one of my Dad’s favourites and not something I’d usually order as I’m not the biggest fan of pork. However, another great thing about this sharing style of eating is that you get to try the things you wouldn’t normally go for as someone else has picked it. You can end up finding new dishes and new flavours that you absolutely love. The meat was so easily shredded off the bone and so juicy and flavoursome I almost forgot that I insisted to my mother for many years of my childhood that ‘I don’t like pork’. It just goes to show that you should keep trying things as your tastebuds do develop and change as you get older and sometimes just having something served up to you in a new kind of way is a total game changer.
Tapas is the sort of meal that I don’t always feel requires a dessert, however I did indulge this time in a tasty slice of Galician almond tart which was a lovely little sweet treat to round off the evening. My Mum ordered the chocolate ganache dish which looked pretty spectacular but was, in my opinion, a little over done. Essentially it was just three balls of ganache with some tasty crunchy toppings. That’s a lot of ganache where I think perhaps one or two balls with slightly less fanfare would have sufficed.
I’ve visited the Rupert Street branch of Brindisa a few times now and I think it’s well and truly earned a spot on my list of go-to favourite dinner spots. The flow of the evening was uninterrupted, we only paused to order something else when we got a little hungrier or spotted something else we fancied on the menu. The meal and the conversation flows a lot more continuously over tapas than your traditional three course set up. If you’re paying a visit I’d strongly suggest you order the suckling pig and the goats cheese, but push yourself, try something you’ve never had before, the small snack-size portions allow you room to try new things as well as indulge in your favourites.