Tuesday 27 July 2010

Fino Restaurant, Rathbone Street, central London

A smart tapas restaurant housed in an air-conditioned basement, Fino is a good or bad choice for lunch on a hot, sunny day, depending on whether you want to talk business or soak up some summertime atmosphere. The contemporary and slightly soulless decor is predominantly blonde wood, the clientele mostly middle-aged business people and the service friendly, but unobtrusive. The most eye-catching features are the large bar, lined with scores of wine bottles, the high-backed benches and the modernist lighting. There is an extensive range of tapas starting at a couple of quid for some tasty and refreshing pan con tomate up to a ribeye steak for £21.50, while the specials can include roast suckling pig, langoustines and lobster. The platter of cold meats, such as chorizo and cured ham, is a bit of a disappointment for £12.50. Among the seafood dishes, a plate of three sizeable baked sardines (£7.50), served complete with bones and heads, goes very well with the delicious and creamy olive oil mash (£4.50). The courgette flowers, stuffed with a creamy cheese, are also a bit special, but pricey at £7.80 each. Bottles start at about £20 on the long, illustrious and very Iberian wine list, but there is also a decent selection available by the glass or half-bottle. If money is not an issue, a good summertime choice is the 2007/08 Veigadares (AlbariƱo) Adegas Galegas (£45 a bottle), which is crisp yet rich. 7/10