A Taste of Spain

Chris Salzano’s staycation just got better after discovering a gem of a tapas place that took her to Spain and back in one evening

As we stepped inside La Boqueria it could have been in any modern tapas restaurant in a side street in San Sebastian or Barcelona.

As young couples at candle-lit tables discussed what to order, families were tucking in to some beautifully-presented Spanish fare in stylish surroundings.

There are baskets on the ceiling – a nod perhaps to the market of the same name in Barcelona. This wasn’t Spain but a warm summer’s evening in Battersea and from the amount of Spanish being spoken at nearby tables, the restaurant, open for just over two years, really is a popular destination for Spaniards living in the big smoke – always a good sign!

At 8pm the place was gently buzzing and the service smooth and friendly – our waitress Sara was patient and attentive. To drink we ordered a lovely white Rioja and started our meal with marinated plump green olives and roasted padron peppers.

We were then recommended a delicious grilled Iberian ham and brie on toasted ciabatta with foie gras and a beef tenderloin with a Pedro Ximenez glaze on ciabatta bread. The tenderloin just melted in the mouth, while the combination of Iberian ham and brie was just meant to be.

After such an auspicious start we couldn’t wait for the next instalment – a superb cod with aioli, added to the menu by one of the Canarian chefs, was possibly the best cod I had tried in a long while, beautifully cooked and utterly delicious. This was followed by king prawn in garlic and piquilo peppers.

My husband and I then shared the dish of the night in our eyes, which was well worth the 20 minute wait required to prepare it – the Arroz negro (bomba rice cooked in squid ink with mussels, prawns) with an aioli sauce on the side. It was a perfectly-balanced dish and really did hit the spot.

By this point we had not only been transported to Spain but were actually feeling like we were half way through our holiday. We ended our virtual Spanish escapade by sharing a delicately light dessert of baked custard with coconut biscuit and lime sauce.

Alas, it was time to return to earth, in actual fact Queenstown Road, but I will definitely return very soon!
La Boqueria, www.boqueriatapas.com

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