I love me some tapas, as previous posts will indeed show, and there are few better joints than Brindisa at Borough Market. Yes, they don’t take reservations, but they will let you wait at the pub across the road and will take names and seat people before all guests have arrived. So it’s not quite as unaccommodating.
And once you have a decent table (let alone an outside one) you're the envy of the foodies and gawping tourists heading into the market. We have a crisp cava (£5.95) as we wait for our A-List Twittering friend and before long it’s down to business.
As my legions of keen followers will attest, pan con tomate is one of my favourite dishes ever – the freshness and simplicity (combined with a slight suspicion of Southern European breakfasts) means this is a staple. At £2.80, it’s generous and slathered with tomato and oil. Nearly everything else we order comes with bread though (which is quite fresh but hard and needs the oil) so it’s a bit overkill.
The ham selection is maybe a touch modest for £19.50 but a good way to sample some delicate bellota with some heftier iberico slices. This barely lasts a minute, so we also have a salchichon de vic (£5.00) which is plentiful and very peppery.
A selection of cheese (£13.75) and a portion of lovely croquettes (£6.90) provide more for the arteries; the zamorano is sharp, the mahon is like a smoky Edam and the croquettes are positively oozing with rich béchamel and pieces of jamon.
We have some padron peppers (£3.50) which are forgotten first time round, and they’re salty, tangy and great for boozy snacking. At this point, we’re on a Miralmonte (£21.95) from Toro, which is rich and smooth like a Rioja. Supposedly an emerging wine region, I’ll definitely keep an eye out.
Our patatas bravas (£4.00) are a bit stingy on the sauce (they’re playing it safe by serving both paprika-aioli sauce and a spicy tomato sauce) but unremarkable, however the black rice with squid (£6.50) is decadent and quite a hit.
On a slight tangent, I do wonder if today's the ideal tapas restaurant be contemporary and modern like Fino, or spirit you away on holiday like the rather cheap and very cheerful Galicia? I think this straddles both, and I’d love to visit Madrid to check out some of the more modern offerings. Until then, Brindisa es bastante. Gracias.
Food – 8/10
Drink – 9/10
Value – 7/10
Service - 7/10 (AWOL peppers but correct on bill and otherwise good and attentive)