The wine is distinctively Iberian and very well priced, which probably accounts for the occasionally boisterous behaviour
My first day in London was also my first day of trying tapas. In a now dated Clapham tapas house (much like the area) I was introduced to delights such as chorizo, tortilla and patatas brava. All of these dishes would become some of my dining staples, and all were consumed against a backdrop of cheesy eighties pop and sweet sangria. It was brilliant. Roll on 21 years and tapas has been commercially adapted and marketed on behalf of every possible cuisine; from the credible (Italian), to the unfathomable (Korean).
A recent visit to Bravas Tapas reminded me why the Spanish ‘version’ remains the best. Located in the distinctly non-Iberian St Katherine Docks, Bravas is a good looking place with light wood interiors and floor to ceiling windows overlooking the some of London's wealthy folks yachts and apartments in the docks. You could almost be in Barcelona.
Unlike other restaurants in the locale, Bravas was bursting at the seams with City workers and pre-club youngsters giving it a vibrant, festive ambiance. The service had that casual efficiency that only Europeans can pull off and the place was buzzing.
More importantly, the food was the real deal. The “Morcilla De Burgos” Sliders were incredibly moreish, as were the sous-vide (water bath) cooked Moorish Spiced Lamb Chops – no pun intended. The team were desperate for us to try the Fresh Salmon ‘Rulada’ and Shoestring Sweet Potato which we duly did. However the refrigerated temperature at which they were served negated the flavour. Closer to room temperature would have tasted better and probably felt more Spanish. Elsewhere on the menu came the brava potatoes unusually arrived with the sauce as an accompaniment. Despite my friends protests at the lack of authenticity (and this from a man in the film business) they were a success . The wine is distinctively Iberian and very well priced, which probably accounts for the occasionally boisterous behaviour from some of the tables.
All of which was both similar but equally very different to my first experience of tapas. Bravas Tapas isn't doing anything radical but it executes a proven formula very well. In a very competitive space, it reconfirms that London still has plenty of room for good tapas restaurants. If only we can gett that eighties pop and sweet sangria back ...
On a scale of * to *****
Wining and dining ***½
Serving and pouring *** ½
Flirting and canoodling *** ½
Saint Katherine Docks, East Smithfield, London E1W 1AT 020 7481 1464