Sunday, 20 November 2011

Review - Al Andalus

It's ironic (no, it really isn't) that I talked about how much I love my trusty old phone only a few posts ago since it broke a few days later. Well, I thought it broke. It broke for a day. Then it was fine. Then it broke again. The incident happened during my mulled wine party. There were thirteen (ooh) bottles of wine knocking around from which I drank an unspecified amount. I don't really know what happened to take my phone to the permanent 'push to talk' screen of death but I imagine it had something to do with the mulled wine splashing all over my room when people started throwing plastic balls at a moving target: me, carrying a very large saucepan of mulled wine. The next morning I should've been crying over my broken phone, clearing up claret-stained balls and worrying about what to do with the sick in my bin (pleasantly, not my own). But all this had to wait because I was due at my friend's 21st birthday family meal at Al Andalus on Little Clarendon Street in Oxford.
I thought I was going to pass out. Thankfully, my friend's mother had provided thoughtful little party bags which included chocolate coins that I gobbled down to avoid causing a scene. Then came the bread. The bread was fresh and warm and came with a zingy tomato salsa dip. Exactly what I needed in my sorry state. I would've been happy had they brought nothing but that glorious dip but out came the cheese and meat. Peppery and textured with little sides of fresh leaves inviting you to make a little sandwich. The other tapas disappeared too quickly for me to get a picture. Patatas bravas were gloriously crisp yet perfectly soft inside. The aioli went ignored by me since the heat and smokiness of the tomato sauce had my complete attention. The same garlicky sauce came with the spanish omelette and I think the spanish omelette provided a better accompaniment for it than the potatoes. It was almost too dry but the sweet onions and aioli saved it. Unfortunately, I couldn't say the same for the cheese balls and spinach balls. The cheese balls were just a tad too heavy and rich. At the time when they were brought out, I was flagging and full. To counter the stodge of the cheese, I tried a spinach ball. Bizarre. It would've been more apt to call it a raisin ball rather than a spinach ball since they were barely savoury. This one dish was the only disappointment though. Other tapas not pictured here include garlic buttery mushrooms and garlicky chilli prawns. Both very simple but so good, indeed, the flavour of the main ingredient was allowed to shine. Fabulous.

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