I felt that with the unfortunate demise of Barrafina, tapas in London was not just going down the toilet but instead mutating into something worse. Something not without taste but rather, too much of it. I had been wowed by tapas while in wet but warm Madrid late last year and thought that that was what to eat while in Spain. An easy way to bliss and happiness, so much so that my usually calorie adverse dining companion deemed that the taste outweighed the excess calories. As she complains, there is usually a hidden catch to things that taste too good. Fats make things taste better. Things that make us happy usually aren’t good for us. As overzealous application of things that pose a danger to our health is an easy and quick way to make things taste better.
Not that this place needed it.
Flat bread. Never have I ever had flat bread that tasted so good. It was delicious and soft, charred on the outside, with a moist interior and filling full delightful wheat. This is what breads dream of being. Well, at least what personally, I hoped they would all be like.
Harissa. Chilli and garlic and oil. Some of my favourite things. A touch of fire combined with garlic, only served to heighten the delight of the bread. As a self-professed garlic addict (helps to keep the vampires away too), heavy infusions of this herb/vegetable rightly make everything taste better. Although, as with most things in life, taking things to excess leads to a quick slide down the tail end of a bell curve. I.e. too much garlic makes things taste rather bad.
Padron peppers. Tasty and juicy which a touch of salt to enhance the taste. A great little snack.
Arroz – wet rice with cod, prawn and mussels. A soft mixture of the fruits of the sea. It was the cod that surprised here as I am used to having it served in the rather tasteless manner in fish and chips. Here, it was succulent and bouncy, inviting you to take another a bite. When you have such rice and other sea creatures to eat it in unison with, it becomes dangerously addictive.
Spiced lamb, aubergine, pomegranates & pine nuts. Deep lamby flavour, smooth eggplant, tart pomegranates and crunchy pine nuts. A better shredded lamb, I cannot remember in recent memory. As I slowly savoured the meat, I thought of lambs I had known. Playing in the fields and cavorting in the grass. I felt that this joy was captured in the dish. I came away very happy.
It seems that tapas hasn’t really reached its sell by date in London. You just need to know where to go. There are places in the capital which can cook Spanish food without falling into the trap of too much oil, too much salt and too much attitude. Your secret is safe with me, Barrafina. Yet it is in a quiet corner of London, at Exmouth market, that Spanish cooking is more than alive and kicking. It is actually good and well worth a repeat visit. I’ll be back at Morito soon.
A quiet eating 8/10.
Lunch is about GBP25 per person excluding drinks and service.
32 Exmouth Market, Clerkenwell,
London EC1R 4QE