"Jamon feel the noise - tip top tapas in...err...Westfield!"Review Rating: Reviewed by Matthew B
On the face of it, it may have seemed like bad timing the day we visited Tapas Revolution; the press was full of stories about processed meats giving you cancer and obituaries for modern-day Che Guevara, Hugo Chavez.
But the type of revolution chef Omar Allibhoy has in mind is food-based, not political. And after sampling some of the meats they have on offer, well, I’ll take my chances as they were too darn good to pass up.
Omar is a passionate and personable young Spanish chef who is on a mission to bring simple but good quality tapas to the British people. With several TV appearances under his belt and a book emphasising the use of easy to find ingredients due in August, he looms large over Tapas Revolution, but the message is not one of food snobbery and elitism but inclusiveness - he wants everyone to come and see what real Spanish food is all about.
The Westfield location could not be more in the thick of it if it tried. Overlooking the main atrium one sits up at a zinc counter while the staff beaver away inside. There’s wisely no attempt to recreate a faux olde worlde Spanish vibe which would look very out of place against Westfield’s modern lines. Instead, a cheerful socialist-style red and black sign, a few tasteful lights and the counter are all that’s really needed.
In tune with Omar’s book and general philosophy the menu is nothing flashy, but is created with care and uses the best quality ingredients. Nearly everything has been carefully sourced by him from Spain; this was especially true of the meat: the board of Iberico acorn-fed ham we tried was outstanding, the Rolls Royce of Iberico!
All the dishes we tried were quality: tender calamari were freshly and lightly battered, while the octopus was cooked to melt-in-the-mouth perfection, served with potatoes dusted with paprika. Fresh marinated anchovies, croquetas and a garlicky pan con tomate were all decent.
There were plenty of other enticing dishes on the menu we didn’t try - I liked the look of roasted cod fillet in cider sauce - but Omar gave us a taste of a Madrid speciality: beef tripe stew, which he made especially for an event at the National Gallery the next evening. The unusual texture of the tripe, combined with some black pudding, sausage and chick peas in a smoky broth was intriguing.
The Cava, Fino and Riojas (both white and red) were all good, and the sweet hazelnut liquor to accompany our churros con chocolate completed our tapas experience.
In fact, the meal was hard to fault. The friend who accompanied me, who had spent time living in Spain, declared it equal to the best she had eaten there, and superior to a lot of tapas available in the mother country. Prices are reasonable with most dishes around the £3 - £5 mark.
If Tapas Revolution has a problem it could be getting people through the door (even though technically it doesn’t have one) who might baulk at eating in Westfield full stop, and getting the message across that this is a superior joint and not another ok-but-nothing-special chain outlet of the type that seems to populate the rest of the Westfield food court. The fact is Tapas Revolution is an independent eatery; one can’t help feel that if this was in a street location in a decent neighbourhood, the place would fly.
Having said that, Omar Allibhoy’s star seems clearly on the rise, and good luck to him. So keep a look out and take the chance to eat at Tapas Revolution next time you find yourself way out west(field).
Matthew B reviewed Tapas Revolution on Mon 11 Mar 2013