Viva La Revolution (Part 2) | Tapas Revolution Shoreditch, 58 Bethnal Green Road, London E1 8JW
I’ve often perched at the bar at Tapas Revolution in Bluewater. Either by myself for a sweet glass of café bombón coffee (for a mid-shop boost), with the kids for a churros treat or for with Saff for some pan con tomate and a dish of chorizo. As much as we love Tapas Revolution, sitting exposed in the middle of a busy shopping centre doesn’t lend itself to a relaxing meal. There’s one at Westfield too by the way.
So when we found out that head chef and founder of Tapas Revolution, Omar Allibhoy was opening a ‘proper’ restaurant in Shoreditch we couldn’t wait to pop in. The open kitchen and Jamón prep area adds some theatre, with its flashes of flame and clattering of pans. But it’s the long bar that takes centre stage – we absolutely love the bold copper lighting above it. There’s a row of tightly packed high tables and chairs next to the bar that give the feel of an authentic Spanish tapas bar. Saff appreciated the tiles in the toilet so much that she came back for her phone to take a picture.
We sat at the very slightly more formal tables that run around the perimeter of the restaurant. It was here that greeted by Omar (yes he actually works at his restaurants). He sat and chatted to us about how busy the Shoreditch branch had been during the 50% off discount fortnight, how he feels about Tapas Revolution now being taken seriously and the challenges of cooking in shopping centres.
Omar’s parting comment was to ‘try something new’ and ‘not to stick to the classics – apart from the tortilla’, which is cooked very differently at the Shoreditch branch. Trying something new wasn’t difficult – the menu is so different from that at Bluewater. But what is most noticeable is the fab drinks list, especially the cocktails (or cõcteles). I couldn’t resist a Cerezo (£7.50) – raisin-infused Fino sherry, maraschino liqueur, egg white, pineapple, lemon, orange and cherry juice, a surprisingly refreshing drink. While Saff had a massive glass of Gin Mare & Fever-Tree mediterranean tonic (£9) served with a sprig of basil and rosemary.
On to the tapas, our enthusiastic waiter recommended three dishes each and we tried to order from each of the six sections. We thought that starting with a portion of Chicharrones (£2.25) in-house pork scratchings would be a good place to start. That is until we were told that they were VERY crunchy and best eaten with a cold beer. To prove a point, he brought one over and he was so right, talk about loud – especially if your wife suffers from a mild case of misophonia! We did ignore Omar a little as we ordered our old favourite, the Pan con tomate (£2.95) – grilled bread rubbed with garlic and topped with penjar tomatoes and olive oil – one bite and we are back at Tapas 24 in Barcelona.
Next up was a delicious little dish of Berberechos al fino (£7.25) – cockles cooked with garlic, Serrano ham, guindilla chillies, parsley and dry Fino sherry. (The market had no cockles that morning so we had clams instead). Our waiter recommended (and got very excited about) one of the specials – Calçots with Romesco sauce (£5) – a typical seasonal Catalonian dish of grilled spring onions and a romesco sauce made from nuts, nyora peppers, olive oil, tomatoes, onions, garlic and red wine vinegar and crumbed bread (to thicken it). A tasty and interesting dish but very fiddly to eat even by tapas standards. Although Saff found it highly amusing watching me burn my fingers as I peeled back the charred skins.
The La tortilla de chorizo (£5.95) – Spanish omelette with smoked chorizo, was very different from what we’ve had before (not just at Tapas Revolution but at other Spanish restaurants). It was moist in the middle, not the usual firm sliceable ‘potato cake’. We also ordered the Paella de verduras (£6.50) – bomba rice cooked with seasonal vegetables and saffron. Partly because it had Saffron in it and partly to bulk out the rest of the dishes.
Unfortunately the Paella was a little dry and bland but I managed to perk it up by mixing it in with the sauce from the incredible Carrilleras ibéricas al chocolate (£8.25). These Iberian pork cheeks braised with chestnuts and chocolate sauce was by far my favourite dish, especially mixed with the paella rice (probably not the done thing). Last up was a pot stuffed full of Alitas de pollo glaseadas (£4.50) – smoked chicken wings glazed in honey and lemon. Gorgeous little crispy skinned chicken wings drenched in a sticky citrus sauce, enough said.
There isn’t a printed dessert menu you have to ask your ‘camarero’ for the day’s options. But first it was time to be talked into having another cocktail (not that it takes much). The waiter suggested the Batido de Malta (£7.50) – hazelnut and chocolate liqueurs, licor 43, malt, almond milk and turron syrup – basically a liquid alcoholic version of a Ferrero Rocher (oh ambassador, you are really spoiling us!). Saff was keen on having a glass of sherry with her dessert and opted for the light, easygoing Pedro Ximenez Reserva Familia (£5.50).
I was curious as to what the Torrijas (£4) would be like. This Spanish-style French toast is traditionally eaten at Easter and is made with bread, eggs, milk, cinnamon and sugar. Served warm with dollop of creamy vanilla sauce on top, far too good just to be eaten at Easter. Saff had a rather underwhelming Chocolate pot (£4) – a tiny jar of chocolate mousse with a flattened disk of chocolate brownie at the bottom. ‘Good but could do with something else with it’ were her exact words and I couldn’t disagree. She ended up sneaking mouthfuls of mine.
At last Omar has a ‘proper’ permanent restaurant, big enough to seat even a large group of friends, it’s a pity that you can’t book ahead though. That said, Shoreditch needs a restaurant like Tapas Revolution, decent Spanish food is hard to find. Add the excellent drinks menu (red and white wine from £4.50 a glass or £16.95 a bottle) and Omar should be on to a winner – viva la revolution!
58 Bethnal Green Road,
Shoreditch, London E1 8JW
Opening hours: Mon to Thurs: 12pm to 11pm
Friday: 12pm to 12am
Saturday: 9am to 12am
Sunday: 9am to 10pm
Nearest station: Shoreditch High Street Station (2 mins walk)
We ate as guests of Tapas Revolution, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.