Best tapas in town?

A Little Spain has formed on Old Brompton Road in South Kensington and this is the place to go for pimientos de Padron and jamon Iberico. My lord, the Cambio de Tercio Group has created a successful concept; so successful in fact that it’s difficult to score a table reservation.

It was 10 o’ clock on Friday night and Miss E and I had been to an event at a new nightclub close by (needless to say we weren’t so keen on the party bit as we were on the welcome drinks). We were hungry and I knew that Capote y Toros would provide a satisfactory meal. I had only been to its older sibling Tendido Cero and I knew that Rafael Nadal is a frequent visitor to its other sibling Cambio de Tercio. That proved evidence enough for me to walk into a packed Capote y Toros, wait for 15 minutes before I could sit down and order most of the menu.

The Italian was also accompanying us, which explains the over-ordering, as well as the brilliant bottle of red he managed to secure.

Capote y Toros is known for its extensive sherry selection, which according to the website, is the most extensive in the whole of UK. We ignored the sherry, but went for the 5J Iberian ham instead. It’s a ham and sherry bar after all.

The 5J Iberian ham is acorn-fed (or the pigs are) and I don’t understand why that makes any difference, but it’s the best ham ever. Tender, nutty and perfectly salty, it doesn’t come cheap, but it’s too good to say no. However, if you want the cheaper option there is jamon de recebo on the menu too. I suppose it’s like wanting a pair of Chanel shoes but going for French Sole instead. Perfectly reasonable.

Another must order is the carpaccio of duck liver, reduced in Pedro Ximenez. It literally melts in your mouth and confusingly feels like you’re indulging in dessert. This is sweet stuff. To balance all the meat and salty flavours, the goat’s cheese salad is a perfect accompaniment. Salmon tartar with alioli of peppers de Padron is ok, but not a requirement – especially if you have already ordered spicy chorizo, pan con tomate and oven-baked cod. Whoever said tapas couldn’t neatly and swiftly deliver a food baby?

Since this epicurean adventure I’ve been back twice. And I don’t flinch when I say that it’s probably one of the best Spanish joints I’ve ever been too. Spain included. Heck, there were even Spanish people sitting next to me. Did I hear an ole?


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