Monday, 1 September 2008
You can do all the research in the world, scour every website, read every blog, but very often there's nothing better than a spot of hands-on local knowledge to point you in the direction of a good meal. A friend of mine who's recently moved to a pretty little spot just off Columbia Road in Hackney had been raving about a Tapas restaurant called Laxeiro he'd had the good fortune to stumble across, and so on Saturday night we duly trotted off there to see if it could deliver a second time.
It's a pretty small room and it didn't take very many people to become crowded and boistrous, so the noise levels at first seemed excessive. However once we'd settled into our couple of bottles of Spanish Viognier I imagine we were giving as good as anyone. Only the wine list was printed; the food menu was on a chalkboard near the door which I would hope demonstrates a use of fresh and changing ingredients - only repeat visits will tell, I suppose.
Given that there were six of us and I think I speak for everyone when I say that we would have all happily eaten everything on the menu, we managed to get through about half - about fourteen(!) or so dishes. I'm not going to attempt to list in detail everything we scoffed, but particular highlights included lovely fresh BBQ sardines, salty Pimientos de Padron, a superb dish of moist, fatty suckling pig and a smooth and light Crema Catalana. Dishes which didn't work so well were some rather dry cubes of deep-fried chicken in breadcrumbs, some greasy and bland Patatas Bravas and a plate of Chorizo in Red Wine sauce which was not bad by most standards but suffered badly in comparison with a truly delicious dish I'd had at Café Kick in Exmouth Market last week.
Charming Spanish waitresses never got flustered despite our increasingly drunken demands, and the evening passed in a happy, noisy blur. We did of course manage to spend far more than we'd intended - tapas dishes have that particular psychological disadvantage of making you seem like you're ordering carefully then before you know it you've eaten half your bodyweight in Albondigas and spent £50 each. But what the hell - Laxeiro turned out to be a quite excellent little local restaurant, and I can't wait to go back.