A Moreish Tapas Experience
From the goats cheese and blossom honey through solid Presa Iberica to a knee trembling romesco sauce, our reviewer finds a burst of Shoreditch Spanish sun at Tapas Brindisa
Review by Martin Stickley
Brindisa Shoreditch is the latest offering from Spanish food aficionados Brindisa Kitchen who, for the last 28 years or so, have been at the forefront of getting our uncultured British palettes round some proper Iberian delicacies.
The name “Brindisa” comes from the Spanish “brindis” which means to “raise your glass” in celebration, so I’m looking to celebrate their efforts by sampling some of the delights on offer at their Shoreditch Restaurant.
The group themselves have been operating in London since 1988 when the business was founded by Monika Linton. As well as operating five other eateries across London (including a Barcelona-style Cafe in Brixton) the group are also one of the major importers of Spanish produce into the capital.
The Shoreditch branch has had a bit of makeover lately, and with it they’ve created a restaurant where the decor and the vibe are perfectly suited to the area. Do go and eat here if you have even the slightest finger on the East London trend pulse, if you want something a bit more formal – don’t worry – one of their other branches will definitely suit.
Entering the restaurant feels welcoming, with an informal area for brunches and lunches (perfect for the local lunchtime business), followed by several stool-tables for relaxed evening eats, then plenty of table space at the rear (with an added outdoor area which is no doubt great in July, but I didn’t fancy braving in January). The kitchen is exposed for your voyeuristic pleasure (as is the trend nowadays, poor chefs) with bar seats for those popping in for something quick.
So, enough about the walls, what about the food? I started with the goat’s cheese with orange blossom honey on toasted bread, with beetroot crisps on the side. You would think that the sweetness of both cheese and honey would be too much in one dish, but the deep, citrusy honey really works with the rich creamy cheese. Next, several dishes at once, Squid in romesco sauce with potato, followed by chicken with prunes, apricots and pine nuts and the one thing you should always, always order when at a decent tapas restaurant, Presa Iberica (in this case it came with sweet potato mash and confit onions). The chicken was succulent and cooked very well but, if anything, more needed to be done to bring out the sweetness of the fruit as the dish is so savoury it needs something to cut through it. The pork was also a little over cooked for my liking (the presa, a cut from between the shoulder and loin, is served medium rare. The underdone-ness usually showing just how ridiculous our typically British incineration of pork really is) but the combination of mash and confit onion still provided a delightful, hearty offering. The squid was my favourite dish of the three, and not for the poor little Cephalopods themselves (these were good, by the way), but for the sauce. Oh the sauce! The romesco is delicious, exquisitely deep and savoury with enough of the stock to bring Piscean flavour without it being too overpowering, it had me reaching for the dipping bread (I am not ashamed to say) until the dish was practically clean. Following on from this came short pasta with prawns, cuttlefish and mussels along with baked lamb ribs with tomatoes and potatoes. Both of these were pretty good (although one of the ribs was all but bereft of meat which is a shame because the rest were very tasty). I couldn’t leave without having a dessert so I plumped for the almond and honey nougat mousse with PX soaked raisins. Now that is an obscenely good dessert, luxuriously rich and very smooth. Both the savoury and sweet were washed down with a (surprisingly) decent Tempranillo from the tap (the wine selection here is pretty strong and should cover all tastes) and all was delivered by extremely friendly (and knowledgeable – a trait often overlooked) serving staff.
So all in all, Brindisa Shoreditch is a friendly, inviting dining experience which isn’t meant to take itself too seriously. There’s some definite quality to the dishes and the menu is pretty good value for money (expect around £7-£10 for the classic/special dishes). I’d certainly think about it if I was in the area again with friends, or my partner, and was looking for something a bit different.
Enquires: Tapas Brindisa Shoreditch, 152 Curtain Road, Shoreditch London EC2A 3AT / 0207 7499961 / www.brindisakitchens.com/restaurant/tapas-brindisa-shoreditch/