Perhaps it’s since Spain won the European Championship, or maybe its because her brother is the vice-consul in Alicante. Whatever the reason, the Northerner and I seem to be on a Spanish roll right now. From the superb Camino Monumento a few weeks back, to one of the forefathers of London’s Spanish food revolution, Tapas Brindisa.
The original Brindisa in Borough Market played a key role in turning a simple fruit, meat and veg market into the restaurant and social destination that it has become. Tapas Brindisa in Soho isn’t adding anything new to an already vibrant dining scene, but it does bring a very Iberian experience.
Brindisa Soho is better looking then its Borough Market counterpart. The open kitchen to the rear, all ‘chef’ie stainless steel efficiency and energy, provides a cluttered, action-filled backdrop to the bar stools and tables that stretch out to the door. It doesn’t feel as busy or chaotic as the Borough Market place, and probably as a result, not as authentically Spanish. But that is where the food comes in.
We started with the Iberico Selection charcuterie platter with recebo ham, chorizo, and salchichon (a stronger flavoured cured sausage) with bread and olive oil, which was generous in size, and delicious. We followed with sharing plates of patatas bravas, a divine manchego salad, chorizo on toast, and octopus and potato dusted with paprika. It was all very good. But not great. We washed it down with a bottle of Vega de Yuso Tempranillo from Ribera Del Duero, which was smooth and soft. Just how they described it, in fact. The highlight besides the Manchego salad was the Crème Catalana, which was creamy and light in texture with an understated sweetness.
The waiting staff were friendly, but a little inconsistent – we had either two of them tending to us at the same time or no-one. The diners were very Soho media, with the odd tourist thrown in. The ambiance was buzzing, but tending more towards the formal then the party atmosphere. It is almost like they’ve tried to change their Borough Market formula to meet Soho’s needs, and not quite made it. Perhaps they need to recapture the winning spirit that gave them their early success. Just like their footballing brethren have.