Tapas bars have been a part of the UK dining scene for a couple of decades. Tapas chains have seen a certain degree of success and there are many high-end Spanish operations that are held in high regard. On the whole Brits are getting good at eating Tapas. As an increasingly food fascinated population tapas works perfectly with the overall move towards eating less but more often. Grazing and sharing is a brilliant way to eat – more variety, less chance of food envy and a greater flexibility where the bill is concerned. Bring on the tapas.
Last year Omar Allibhoy embarked on a T-shaped road trip cross the UK to promote tapas. Everywhere he visited he cooked up a storm and invited people to get involved and learn more about tapas. He has now set up the first of his Tapas Revolution bars at the Westfield shopping centre. This may seem an odd place to start but in fact it only goes to confirm that people in the UK are really pro-tapas.
Omar’s bar, with dangling jamon, high black swivel stools and swish pewter top, sits opposite and slightly apart from the main food court as if it’s turning an arrogant shoulder. The food tastes homely, earthy and individual. The pigs cheeks in Pedro Ximenez were a reminder of a sticky winter stew, the croquetas were plump with smooth hammy béchamel centres. Boquerones or anchovies marinated in garlic and parsley were tangy and fresh served in glass jars that are topped up with extra virgin and shaken to serve.
Five years ago the concept of a bar in a shopping centre where you snack on padron peppers and sip a tumbler of Manzanilla would have been almost laughable, even more so that it would be busy… viva la revolución!