Thursday, 10 January 2008
Brindisa Tapas, Borough Market. Finally!
I wasn't going to make the same mistake twice. Half five on the dot last night I raced out of the office door, got straight into the Northern Line and made it into Brindisa Tapas by 6pm. Incredibly, most tables were already taken. This frantic activity is of course thanks to Brindisa's no reservations policy; perhaps it's easier for them to manage the tables this way, or they get a higher turnover. All I know is that personally I am less inclined to make the journey halfway across town if I think there's a good chance I'll be forced to wait for a table for two hours or made to look for somewhere else altogether. It doesn't make for a relaxing evening if you have that hanging over you, I don't think. That said, I suppose the fact I did, in fact, make the journey halfway across town last night sort of weakens my argument a bit. Anyway, what about the food.
Nibbles of spicy toasted broad beans were gorgeous with the house Manzanilla. Gran Reserva Joeslito loin was a satisfyingly rich and earthy cut of cured pork which thankfully tasted as expensive as it actually was (£10). We also tried some razor clams which were teeny but came with fantastic rich white wine and garlic butter dotted with crispy bacon bits. Patatas Bravas were well-cooked and the sauce was much spicier (and therefore better) than any I'd tried before, and four Iberian ham croquettas were fluffy and light with a crispy coating and were as good as any I've had outside Spain. So, no problems with the food then. And provided you do strike it lucky and get a table at Brindisa, service is nothing short of faultless - not surprising considering there are almost as many staff as customers in the tiny room, but even so worth a special mention. During the course of the evening I hardly needed to glance up from the table before I caught our waitress' eye, probably contributing to the fact I spent so much on sherry.
So there is nothing wrong with Brindisa once you're inside, nothing at all - they serve great fresh tapas, sympathetically cooked according to Spanish traditions (apart from the preponderence of Catalan ingredients and dishes, tapas not really being a Catalan thing) and the service is worth every inch of the 12.5%, and then some. But the reason I don't think I'll be visiting Brindisa too often in the short-term is nothing to do with the food or service, it's because I can't guarantee that the effort of getting there will come good. People tend to linger a while over tapas, and there are so few tables in this tiny corner of Borough Market that they are constantly hugely oversubscribed. My only hope is that it won't be long before Brindisa can afford to move to bigger premises and have a proper reservation process. Then I'll be back - again and again.