Constant Eater by Jonathan Byrne
Visiting the Boqueria Market in Barcelona exposes one to the best Mediterranean food experience ever. The market stretches forever, revealing section after section devoted to an utter feast for the senses of fruits, vegetables, fish, dried hams, olives, cheeses and more. Some of the stalls also serve their food on site and there are fantastic tapas bars. One of the ‘must do’ activities when you are in Barcelona. In London we are lucky if we have two restaurants offering an equally great tapas experience. My friend, Cesar, and I visited Boqueria Tapas in Acre Lane between Brixton and Clapham. Of course we ordered and ate far too much during the evening. Tapas dishes arrive slowly as they are cooked, creating a relaxing informal experience; captivating and tempting, each one driving us on to order yet one more portion until we could face no more. Constant Readers of The Constant Eater won’t be surprised to read that we never made it to pudding. Though I shall definitely visit again as next time I’d very much like to try Leche fitta – cubes of fried milk dusted with cinnamon and orange blossom water. Intriguing.
The tapas on offer are all familiar dishes so there are no new surprises and introductions however they were universally delicious. The Ali-oli sauce had just the right balance of sweet pungency of garlic to liven up soft fried squid. It’s a long time since I’ve been caught out by Pimientos de Padron – tonight they were all mild though deliciously salty. Octopus, yet again cooked to soft perfection, flavoured with paprika on a bed of potatoes. Two other tapas staples, and again resounding examples of the best, spicy patatas bravas and creamy fluffy croquetas with Iberian ham and chicken. We even ordered two portions of Langostinos a la parrilla con ajo y perejil. Boqueria Tapas must take a great deal of care to source all of their food, King Prawns included, so they tasted as succulent and fresh as seafood I’ve watched landed fresh from the sea and grilled before me. I don’t think we did justice to the plate of Lamb chops cooked with garlic and white wine. They smelt good but by this time my taste buds had begun to flag.
Striking the right balance of service by being both approachable and polite our waiter built my trust so I was happy to be guided to a bottle of Prior Scala Dei Priorat 2013 based on both Cesar and my preference for deep full bodied wines. A heady blend of Garnacha Negra and Cabernet Sauvignon full of ripe fruit and light oak with a slight spice and mineral blend. Try this if you like something a little heavier.
£112 including service is not bad in London for a filling meal for two.
www.boqueriatapas.com Tel: 020 7733 4408