Probably the best tapas in London, with service to match
Opera Tavern, WC2
Opera Tavern is part of Salt Yard Group, which was set up by Sanja Morris (now of Le Coq) and Simon Mullins in 2005. As well as catering they have 3 highly rated tapas restaurants in London. Salt Yard, Dehesa and Opera Tavern.
The building is split in to a bar/grill downstairs with a long bar and an open grill at one end and a more formal, small, cosy dining room upstairs. We were sat upstairs in a comfortable corner and got right down to checking out the menu, which is split in to two parts. One has snacks, hams, charcuterie and cheeses and the other has a list of tapas split in to fish, meat and veg sections with about 6 options for each.
We ordered a few essentials, all of which were delicious – Boquerones (£3.30), Chargrilled Bread with Olive Oil and Alioli (£2.95) and Jamon Croquettes, which were maybe a bit pricey at £6.25 but were lovely and stodgy.
Then we moved on to a Morcilla Scotch Egg (£5.25) which was brand new to the menu and will probably be there for a while given how tasty it was! Morcilla is a Spanish black pudding and worked beatifully with the creamy egg yolk and crispy coating.
I highly recommend the Chargrilled Octopus with Chickpea Fritter, Red Pepper and Mojo Verde (£8.75) and the Sea Bass Ceviche with Shaved Cucumber, Basil Sorbet, Radish and Sea Purslane (£7.75). The octopus dish was beautifully balanced and the ceviche was incredibly refreshing and zingy.
We had a Mini Ibérico Pork and Foie Gras Burger (£6.50), which was very good – I wish they did a full size version! The Charcoal Grilled Lamb Loin Chop with Aubergine, Shallot, Roasted Garlic and Mint Dressing (£7.00) was perfectly cooked and was full of flavour.
The Confit of Old Spot Pork Belly with Rosemary Scented Cannellini Beans (£7.25) and the Courgette Flowers Stuffed with Goats’ Cheese and Drizzled with Honey (£7.95) were both a bit of a let down for me. The cannellini beans were too bland and the pork, while well cooked didn’t have enough to carry the beans. The courgette dish had too much honey making it feel more like a dessert!
I rarely order a dessert but this time we went for the Turrón Parfait with Yoghurt and Orange Blossom Mousse and Apricot Sorbet (£5.95) which blew my mind. Superb, especially when matched with a glass of Barbera del Monferrato, Cantine Volpi (Barbera, Piedmont) 2011 (£5.50). A refreshing lively Barbera, light and full of juicy cherries and plums.
We had a superb evening at Opera Tavern. A couple of dishes not to my taste but plenty that I would order again and again. The service was fantastic all evening with good recommendations from staff who are more than happy to give you their opinion and clearly care about what they do. Now to try the rest of Salt Yard Group.
|Mini Ibérico Pork and Foie Gras Burger||£6.50|
|Morcilla Scotch Egg||£5.25|
|Sea Bass Ceviche||£7.75|
|Charcoal Grilled Lamb Loin Chop||£7.00|
|Confit of Old Spot Pork Belly||£7.25|
|Goats’ Cheese stuffed Courgette Flowers||£7.95|
23 Catherine Street,
London WC2B 5JS