London’s ‘small plates’ trend may be spiraling around of control, but let’s not forget that before there were teeny tiny servings of ceviche and individual portions of gourmet mac ‘n’ cheese, there was tortilla and manchego and meatballs served in terracotta ramekins. These dishes were did not require a two hour wait at no-reservations restaurant, nor did they cost £11 a pop ‘but we recommend that you order at least three per person’. They were just tapas. Remember tapas?
Luckily, London hasn’t completely forgotten tapas. In fact, it’s pretty good at it. I’ve yet to try the much-loved food served at either of Jose Pizarro’s eponymous restaurants or the always-packed Barrafina in Soho, but I have been to Salt Yard, and Salt Yard is really good. We went there to sample the courgette flowers stuffed with goat’s cheese, lightly fried tempura-style and drizzled with lavender honey, as listed in Time Out’s 100 Best Dishes in London. They were definitely worthy of the accolade.
Other highlights included a gooey, oozing tortilla, a rich confit Pork Belly with mushy, rosemary-scented cannellini beans, and some delicious bresaola. Salt Yard is kind of expensive (this being central London and not a quiet backstreet in Seville) but it’s a good place to sit at the bar, order a glass of wine, and sample one dish or maybe two before you move onto your next destination. In fact, I think that might be the whole idea.