Sunday 17 February 2013

Tapas Brindisa London Bridge, Southwark Street, central London

It can be tough to get a table for dinner at buzzy Tapas Brindisa. This perennially popular tapas bar on the edge of Borough food market doesn't take bookings. If you pitch up around 8.30 pm on a Saturday, you may have to wait for up to an hour to be seated. In the meantime, you can have a drink, standing at the bar and order a dish or two to keep you going. The menu includes many of the classic tapas dishes, such as chorizo tortilla (£4.50) and chorizo with rocket and piquillo pepper on toast (£6.50). The succulent tortilla is impressively light, but would be even better warm, while the chorizo is mouthwateringly meaty and works well with the rocket. Seafood fans will like the juicy pan-fried clams in white wine sauce and garlic, but they are very salty and you might want to order some of the disappointingly tough white bread to mop up the sauce. You get about 20 clams or so for £8. The house specials include some delicate black rice and squid with alioli (£7) - it is a small portion, but the flavours are good. Another special is eggs broken over fried potatoes and pork (£7) - a really, rich breakfast-style dish. It is delicious, but won't do your cholesterol levels any good.

Courteous, friendly and honest
The extensive Spanish wine list, on which prices start at about £4 a glass or £20 a bottle and rise into the hundreds, is helpfully divided up into smooth and soft, juicy and gluggable etc. At the low-end, the Juan Gil 2010 (£5 a glass) is an enjoyable red, while the Pedrera 2011 (£4 a glass) is smooth, but a bit bland. The Alhambra Premium beer, on draught, is excellent, but is pricey at almost £3 for a half. Service by the black-shirted waiters and waitresses is courteous, friendly and honest - they'll tell you if other diners are sending a particular dish back, for example.  A 12.5% optional service charge is added to your bill. Although the fine food and the lively atmosphere overshadow Brindisa's simple decor, you'll probably notice the large print of dozens of pigs trotting through trees, while you tuck into your chorizo. 8/10