London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Opera Tavern

Covent Garden
Modern European

Small plate restaurants are all the rage at the moment - Spanish tapas, Italian cichetti and Middle Eastern meze are everywhere you look in London. Restaurants are introducing grazing menus, designed to be shared with meals consisting of many little plates, allowing you to taste a variety of different dishes.

The Salt Yard group is a chief advocate of this craze with their three central London venues fully booked almost every evening. Salt Yard near to Goodge Street was their original, followed by Dehesa in Soho, and Opera Tavern in Covent Garden, which is where we visited.

All the restaurants in the group serve slightly different menus, but have some dishes which are constant throughout. Opera Tavern’s Italian and Spanish dishes sit happily together on the menu, so in the international spirit, we kicked off the meal with Italian speck ham and Spanish La Peral cheese. The wafer thin ham was smokey and dissolved on the tongue, complemented perfectly by the tangy blue cheese.

The main part of the menu is divided evenly into three parts for meat dishes, fish dishes and veg dishes, so it was only fair to divide them evenly and order two of each. The first to arrive was the grilled Iberica Pressa - Spanish pork to you and I – served with capers, shallots and lemon. Full of flavour and delicately cooked, it set a particularly high bar for what was to follow.

Next to appear were grilled prawns and chorizo skewers with particularly large meaty prawns; pan seared scallops, Jerusalem artichokes and truffle dressing served in their shells cut into dainty, tasty morsels and served as quite a petite portion, but the highest quality; and a house classic, courgette flowers stuffed with goats cheese and honey. There is something deliciously naughty about a veg dish that is mainly cheese and honey, surely the cheat's way to get one of your five a day. A real personal favourite, this is a 'must-order' dish.

Having warmed up our stomachs sufficiently, the final meat dish of grilled underblade fillet of beef arrived, served with watercress purée, gorgonzola and portobello mushrooms; divine cut, rich and flavoursome, which was complemented by the bite of the blue cheese, together with our final veg dish of chargrilled leeks and spring onions served with crispy duck egg; deliciously grilled and the duck egg melted in the mouth with a crisp outer edging and a running egg yolk perfectly conserved inside.

To round off the meal, we also sampled the chocolate ganache with beetroot ice cream; dark, rich and luxuriant with a surprisingly neutral tasting ice cream; and the amaretti cheesecake with lemon jelly and blackberries, which had a faintly almond-like taste and worked exceptionally well with the tartness of the blackberries.

Service here is exemplary with knowledgeable staff only too happy to help guests navigate the menu, and very swift, which is testament to the behind-the-scenes staff as well as the waiters. The only down side is the price, Opera Tavern is certainly not a cheap restaurant, but worth splashing out for on a special occasion.

23 Catherine Street, WC2B 5JS

Average price for main meal: £6.50 (based on tapas style dishes)
Average price for a glass of wine: £7
Food and drink: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Price: 3/5

1 comment:

  1. Barrafina is by far the best tapas restaurant in London that I have ever been too. It is an amazing place with brilliant food. An amazing atmosphere and fantastic wine.

    Average price for a glass of wine: £7
    Food and drink: 5/5
    Price - 4/5
    Service 5/5