Monday, 5 November 2012

Review - Jamon, Jamon

Whilst out to dinner at La Porchetta, I was informed of the existence of 'a really great tapas place' and a date was arranged to try it out. Monday was suggested since all tapas are half price then. So between Wednesday and Monday I occasionally got the words 'jamon, jamon' stuck in my head to the tune of that crap song that goes 'come on, come on'. As I write this blog entry a week after the restaurant visit, I'm eavesdropping upon a American-Korean guy on his year abroad chirpsing an Austrian girl who studies in London and took about thirty seconds to mention (presumably aa a caution) her boyfriend. So far, he's talked about how education is very different here from in different countries, doesn't she agree, and how he really likes travelling and has found that most Europeans can speak two languages and hate Americans. Everything he's said has been phrased as a truism which even someone who's never travelled, studied or met an American could chime in with. It's uninspiring, empty small talk and the only thing I hate more than it stopping me from sleeping on a bus is having to participate in it. I find it a struggle even when I'm in a good mood so I wasn't particularly enthused by the prospect of it accompanying a late dinner after twelve hours of commuting from one rich student's house to the next. As it turns out, I had fun and that's at least a little bit down to the restaurant itself. The atmosphere is almost tacky but manages to be kitsch and relaxing, just. There's lots of atmospheric candlelight and a menu made for sharing. Some might say it's a good place to go on a date. I'd probably hate dates though because of hating the types of conversation discussed above. We ordered six dishes, two each and two to share. Three tapas each doesn't sound like very much but these portions do not skimp. Also, it was half price so there's no excuse not to try as much as could reasonably be afforded. So that we did. Blue cheese croquettes, patatas bravas, vegetarian stuffed peppers, beef mince stuffed peppers (because they fucked up the order initially), chicken croquettes, tortilla and chickpea and chorizo casserole.
The croquette dishes were both nicely battered and light which was surprising given the heavy filling in each. Heavy in the good, warming, hearty way of course. I think I preferred the blue cheese filling to the chicken just because it had that extra salty kick whereas the chicken was a little more mellow. Perhaps even bland? Both of the croquette dishes came with a saccharine, syrupy tomato relish which cut through the cheese perfectly. The patatas had the right idea too. Crisp in the outside but soft on the inside as all deep fried wonders are with little contrasting pools of aioli and spicy tomato on top. As if Freddie Kruger hit ski season or something. The tortilla was similarly well done (but not especially well done). The star of the show was probably the beef stuffed peppers which were brought to us by mistake. Juicy peppers offset by umami beef and creamy, hardened, melty cheese. Particularly good when you haven't eaten red meat in a while. The chickpeas, themselves nicely textured so they were soft but retained a bit of bite, were let down by the burnt onions. The smokiness of the chorizo combined with the bitterness if the onions totally overpowered everything else and just wasn't very tasty. Overall pretty satisfying although not as amazing as it had been billed to me. Had it not been half price, I might have felt ripped off.

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