Ametza with Arzak Instruction

Ametsa (4 of 20)
Ametsa with Arzak Instruction
History and Background:

1 Michelin star 

Some of the critics’ anticipated openings of 2013. Opened by Elena Arzak, deemed to be the Best Female Chef in 2012, the restaurant is located on the ground floor of The Halkin Hotel, just off Hyde Park Tube Station specialising in Basque Spanish food.  Arrival was to a rather bland and soulless room lined up with square tables and plain white walls, but upon looking up at the ceiling, you will find 7000 glass test tubes filled with cumin and spices. Rather impressive. Sitting down can be rather daunting as I watched half a dozen pair of eyes seep into me as I take my seat… guess this is what happens when you’re their first customer of the day..

The meal:

We got a set deal for lunch here for just £27, a deal which I believe they still have at the moment. Tasting menus can be up to £145 and if ordering from the A La Carte expect it to be well over £50. So I do recommend the set lunch if you are to visit!

Ametsa (5 of 20)
Amuse bouche to start off with. I want their slanted glass tube!
Ametsa (6 of 20)
Chipirones en su Tinta (Black Ink Squid)
Ametsa (7 of 20)
Jamon Iberico sobre Almohadas de Pan con Tomate
Ametsa (8 of 20)
Iberico Ham over Bread Pillow
Ametsa (9 of 20)
Pimientos de Piquillo Confitados (Confit Piquillo Peppers)
I have been meaning to give this a second visit when I can, some of their other dishes are equally as exquisite. Colours as well as the plating are done really well here, the food of course, is good too.

Ametsa (10 of 20)
Bacalao Empedrado
Ametsa (11 of 20)
Rocky Cod
Ametsa (12 of 20)
Jarrete de Ternera con Cerveza, Cebolla y su Hueso
Ametsa (13 of 20)
Beef Shin with the Bone, Onion and Beer
Ametsa (14 of 20)
This was my main, and boy was it good! Meat soft to the bone, with the sauce making it really succulent
Ametsa (16 of 20)
Torrija de Mango y Coco
Ametsa (17 of 20)
French Toast with Mango and Coconut
Ametsa (18 of 20)
Clove Custard, Toasted Milk and Pineapple Ice Cream
Ametsa (19 of 20)
Petite Fours
Service: 12.5% service charge

Bits and bobs:

  • Their dishes are known for the visual appeal and exquisitivity, they have desserts that change colour amongst other things, so maybe check your Instagram feed before going!
  • Cloakroom service available

Price: ££ (only because I got the set deal for £27)

Ametsa with Arzak Instruction on Urbanspoon

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Cambio De Tercio

Cambio De Tercio
South Ken is where it’s at!

History and Background:

Classic Spanish tapas on 163 Old Brompton Road. Cambio De Tercio is the “signature Restaurant of the Cambio De Tercio Restaurant Group”. Located in South Ken, it has been open since June 1995. They also hold the largest Spanish wine collection in the whole of London.

Having achieved a number of prestigious accolades since 1996, you can say that this one of the most authentic Spanish places in town, that even tennis star, Rafael Nadal visits whenever he’s in town. (You know where I will be dining come Wimbledon…hehe.)

The meal:

Bread and olives with Wendy
Cambio De Tercio
Nuestras Famosas Croquetas De Jamon Iberico, Salsa De Tomate-Tomillo £7.50

You may have to get used to the long dish names… Above we have the famous ham croquettes, thyme-tomato sauce. Crispy and succulent with the sauce giving it its full flavour. Below we have a famous, signature dish el Bulli tortilla. It was something different, and omelette was very fluid like, definitely something you should order. Served in a cocktail glass, layered by caramelised onion and egg yolk added with potato crisps.

Cambio De Tercio
El Bulli £4.50
Cambio De Tercio
Mini wagyu beef burger 100% W agyu, Finca Santa Rosalia, Burgos, Spain £3.75
Cambio De Tercio
Girolle mushrooms casserole with soft poached egg, veal stock and foie gras £14.50

Yes I ordered a mushroom dish yet again! I really really loved this one, mushrooms full of flavour and juice but foie gras made how I like it, very soft. Wendy ordered the patatas bravas. This was really good, a traditional favourite. Crispy, but not too fried and not dry – since it was filled with spicy tomato sauced with aioli and chives.

The “NEW” patatas bravas £8.50
Grilled lamb cutlets, thyme, Spinach mashed potatoes £12.50

Wendy couldn’t even finish since we were stuffed…

Cambio de Tercio
King Prawns “a la plancha” garlic, parsley oil £12.25

Service: Friendly staff, not too intrusive but also very knowledgeable

The bits and bobs:

  • Recommended 1-2 tapas and a main, or 3-4 tapas and no main
  • Relatively quiet when we came, maybe you can go without a booking

Price: ££ – £££ (It’s tapas, you can control your spending)

Cambio de Tercio on Urbanspoon

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Barrafina *


Great tapas food. Barrafina Frith Street.

History and Background:

Around since 2007, Barrafina was one of the newly awarded Michelin star restaurants in September 2014. Unconventional, there aren’t many Spanish tapas bars around with a Michelin star rating, and despite what you might think, a restaurant awarded with a Michelin star rating isn’t a decision factor for me at all when it comes to reviewing a meal. This was a restaurant sought out by word of mouth and therefore a visit was beckoning…

With a semi-open kitchen, Mallorcan and Catalan tapas dishes flood the menu, dishes are exquisitely laid out to perfection. Forget the prices and focus on the taste. It’s tapas after all, so it’s never cheap!

Hourly long waits, Barrafina doesn’t do bookings, but you can eat in the queue as you line up against the wall and enjoy petite eats. See below…

The meal:

[Queue eats] Date £3.50
This was eaten in the queue, and was one of the specials on that day. Sweet but meaty. While you’re waiting, you should definitely try some of the smaller eats!

[Queue eats] Chorizo and Potato Chips £3.30
[Queue eats] Ham Croquettes £4.50
And these are only teasers for what is to come…

Queen’s Scallops Tempura £2.80
Elegance in a shell.
Deep fried red mullet £7.20
Soft and enriching flavours

The food is really as good as they look. The queen scallop, small and dainty, but instantly melts in your mouth as soon as you devour it. Fish can easily be overcooked, but the mullet was grilled just right, and the sauces that complement the fish was not too heavy.

Clams £8.80
As good as they look?

Unfortunately for me, and for Poyee, the clams were just so-so. It was nothing special, but maybe because seafood doesn’t appeal to me as much as the other tapas dishes would.

Courgette Flower £7.80

This vegetarian dish was my favourite. So unexpected and so sweet, the courgette flower had essence of some sort of honey or maple syrup, with goats cheese. Tangy and succulent. I highly recommend this.

Utterly brilliant, and exquisitely designed.
Grilled Quail Al-i-Oli £7.50

They do quails here too. The sauce complemented the grilled quail well. Crispy and tender. The dish below, the chicken breast was sub-normal, but still above average for the typical London meal.

Chicken Thigh with Romesco Sauce £7.50
Chef at work
Octopus with Capers £9.80

This one was mediocre, a lot of people order this, but maybe again, I’m not that familiar with octopus (aside from Japanese takoyaki balls) or seafood in general so it wasn’t to my taste. The octopus lacked flavour, and was too oily (it was topped with too much olive oil), the pickled capers were the only thing that gave it real flavour.

Crema Catalana £4.50

Creme Brulee was ok, a bit too rich, and maybe because we were too full. I would recommend going to other places specifically for desserts, but nevertheless, Barrafina holds the title as the best tapas in town.

Would recommend desserts elsewhere

Service: 12.5% service charge, there is £1.00 to Help the Homeless too, that was added on to our bill. Waiters are friendly, but there aren’t many since its a tapas bar. It’s more like you watch the chefs at work and they serve you directly.

Bits and bobs:

  • They have a second branch, on adelaide street (between Covent Garden and Charing Cross).

Price: ££ – £££

Since it’s tapas, it really depends how much you order. For us, £82.00 for 2..

Barrafina on Urbanspoon

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