Boqueria, Tapas done right.
For those who have been to Spain and eaten Tapas in any non-tourist bar, they will know that Tapas extends from simple and quick bites of something with a bit of flavour to accompany a quick lunchtime drink, that are often sold very cheaply, all the way through to amazing taste explosions that show real artistry and culinary talent. Tapas in the UK on the other hand, has often been a bit of an excuse to sell small portions of oily food for lots of money. Whilst London boasts many excellent tapas restaurants such as Iberica, Barrafina and Brindisa, it's harder to find excellent local options. London has been crying out for a Tapas restaurant that can deliver an authentic experience with food that will leave your taste buds crying out for more, without you feeling like you need to apply for a second mortgage. Boqueria is that restaurant.
We have visited before, but London Born and Bred went back for just a little more recently. Boqueria has two venues, Brixton and Battersea. We have been to both, but this time it was the Battersea venue set in an old high street bank. Good use is made of the space and it still retains the old safe in the basement. It was far too heavy and awkward to remove, and stands as an interesting bit of the building’s history. Julian Gil Rivera is the Executive chef for both venues, and under his direction Boqueria has won the good food guide restaurant of the year 2014, and London restaurant of the year 2016, and has been Michelin guide recommended.
Aside from an excellent wine list of Spanish wines, and Spanish beer on tap, what about the food? Between the four of us we chose six to seven dishes, plus desert. These dishes are very flavoursome, and some quite rich as well, they may appear to be smaller as dishes go, but you will not leave feeling hungry or unsatisfied. In fact we left feeling “Wow, that was delicious!”
Starting with Boquerones(Anchovies in vinaigrette) and Croquetas we found the Anchovies to be large and intense, and tasty in a way that the small disappointing tinned versions just never deliver. The Croquetas were everything you’d want, being creamy and rich, with the Chicken and Ham delivering a flavoursome kick to the creamy potato, all encapsulated in a crisp breadcrumb skin.
This was followed by Pulpo a la Gallega. There is something about well cooked Octopus that sets it aside from the rest, and Boqueria has never failed to get it right in all the occasions I’ve eaten there. Soft to the bite, and oh so flavoursome. This dish could be a gateway dish to seafood for those that “don’t really like fish”.
Alongside the Pulpo we had The Tortilla Espangnola with Chorizo. Spanish tortilla is often served over cooked, and is bland. This however was perfectly done, cooked just short I would say, so that in the time it takes to be taken from the kitchen to your table, it’s just right. That’s a real skill to be able to deliver that repeatedly.
Moving on we had the Pincho de Solomillo. Beef tenderloin and Foie gras on toast with a Sherry sauce. Another great dish with differing flavours that come together to compliment each other. The Black rice, or Arroz Negro was utterly reminiscent of eating the same dish in Barcelona many years ago. Rich and soul encapsulating.
The final main dish was Tacos de Cochinillo, or suckling pig Tacos. Cooked long and slow, the pork was melt in the mouth, and all to soon gone. For desert we chose Churros and Tarta de Santiago. Both were excellent examples with the Churros remaining impressively crunchy from start to finish.
All in all, Boqueria continue to serve excellent food that reinforces their reputation for the best of Spanish food. If you know your Spanish food and have not been, then you should go. If you feel that Tapas is just overpriced snacks then Boqueria will change your mind for good. Boqueria also partakes in the seasonal Calcots festival, with dates arranged in February and March, which is well worth following up.
Both venues are well served with public transport and open 7 days a week.
Boqueria can be found at:
278 Queenstown Rd, Nine Elms, London SW8 4LT
192 Acre Ln, Brixton, London SW2 5UL
020 7733 4408