13 October 2008
481 Lordship Lane
Dulwich, SE22 8JY
Tel: 020 8693 5111
Terrific tapas at Barcelona
By David Yuill
WITH MY insight into Spanish cuisine limited to the late night eateries of the various resorts of the Costa del Sol - I apologetically consider myself an extreme tapas novice, writes David Yuill...
My previous visit to the isolated but popular little Barcelona at the quiet end of Lordship Lane saw me flicking through the menu with a puzzled look on my face, waiting for my parents to order our feast.
Now, as a more mature, free-thinking and decisive individual, I again flicked through the menu with a puzzled look on my face, allowing both my more adventurous girlfriend and the vastly knowledgeable waiter to make our selections.
One thing that I have learned about tapas: what a genius idea. A perfect excuse to order plenty of different dishes and to tuck straight into them as a constant chain of tasty variations arrive steaming and sizzling.
I do, however, fear that I have come in at the very top end of the tapas market, as the quality, variety and enthusiasm with which each dish was served surpassed all expectations.
The attentive owner David Dalmau - who has handpicked and selected the impressive wine list and 95 per cent of the kitchen's ingredients from the finest Spanish distributors - is a very welcoming host.
Having whet our whistle with the stunning cured ham from the bone, he continually topped up both our red and white wine glasses with his finest imported and own-brand vino.
Like the wonderful and authentic characters that keep this vibrant little hub producing among the finest food the area has to offer, the dishes seemed to get better as the night went on.
Accompanied by a basket of bread, the Pinacho Diablo (spicy hot pork marinated in paprika, £3.95) and Gampas Al Ajillo (tiger prawns in white wine, £6.99) were a fantastic combination. The hot, dark and full flavour of the marinated pork was balanced by the tender but powerful prawns that swam in juicy sauces.
With the prawns still piping hot, my eyes lit up as the chorizo al vino (spicy sausage in red wine, £3.95), albondigas a la Barcelonesa (meat balls, £4.99) and the fiery little pimientos padron (green peppers, £5.95) arrived. The three dishes combined expertly to test the taste buds in all different directions. The tender chorizo soaked up the red wine, while the chunky meatballs were brimming with flavour, but it was a straight forward Russian roulette with the unforgiving peppers; with one or two of the bad boys packing a real punch.
Just as we dabbed our lips and waited for the sweet menu came the realisation that no Spanish meal was complete without a freshly prepared paella. Opting for the seafood (with chicken, £11.95) by request of the missus, the work of art arrived and we set to work.
The sticky rice topped up with chunky pieces of squid, prawn and various other creatures of the deep was delicious, extremely filling and would have done for the couple sitting next to us as well.
A thoroughly enjoyable evening was capped by the Hispanic tones of the talented musician and the buoyant crowd that steadily packed out the cosy little haven.
This is not only a must for the tapas enthusiast, but the novice too, as the helpful staff are willingly on-hand to decipher the hundred dish combination.
Pinacho Diablo £3.95
Gampas Al Ajillo £6.99
Chorizo Al vino £3.95
Albondigas a la Barcelonesa £4.99
Pimientos Padron £5.95
Seafood paella £11.95
Selection of wines £9.00 - £32.00 per bottle
FOOD (1-5) 5
AMBIENCE (1-5) 4.5
PRICE VALUE (1-5) 4.5
DISABLED ACCESS YES
DISABLED TOILET NO
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