whose Spanish cuisine rules London?

Last year Vicky and I visited Moro, often touted as being one of the best restaurants in London for Iberian cuisine and had a fantastic meal with terrible service (see the archives for a report – around August last year) Anyway, last night we were lucky enough to visit a new contender – Fino. Fino is situated just off London’s restaurant strip mall that is Charlotte street, an unassuming entrance leads you underground into a very very pleasant space. A small cocktail bar off to the right, and more steps down to the dining room, tables are nicely spaced (although we reckoned that only one table would give you a really good amount of privacy. Anyway, the food, at Moro we ate traditionally – starter, main, dessert. At Fino we decided to go with the gourmet tapas selection – plenty of small dishes coming as they are ready. In order they were…..

Pamb Tomaquet (not sure of all their spellings to be honest)
Lovely sourdough bread, rubbed with garlic and then a tomato is squashed on – a hearty way to start a meal (and a good work-out for the teeth too)

Selection of Carcuterie
Great chorizo, some salami style sausage and some slices of meltingly good Jamon

Pimientos de Padron
Small peppers (they offer a lottery style thrill in that one in ten are supposed to be firey hot – the rest sweet and mild)chargrilled into softness with plenty of flaky salt sprinkled on – good stuff

These were simply split in half and grilled – very sweet and succulent with a lightly smoky flavour

Served in a light broth that was enriched with small pieces of ham and onion/garlic – these were sweet and tasty, really really fresh

Crispfried squid
Simple squid rings (and tentacles) in a light batter – all the better for extra salt and a good squeeze of lemon

This we thought was it, and felt slight;y gipped as we were still hungry, but our plates were cleared and so we thought about pudding, but all of a sudden the stars of the meal appeared:

Chorizo with tomato
An unlikely star but wow, it wasn’t because it was the best chorizo I’ve tasted (which it was – sweet and spicy withought getting too sickly as these things can)it was the tomatoes – one bite and I was transferred to my old next door neighbours greenhouse which was full of tomato plants – they were soft, juicy and so flavourful – a real woonder. These and the chorizo combined to make one of the tastiest things I’ve eaten all year.

Veal loin (well we think it was veal – very lightly flavoured and the only thing else it could have been is pork – but it was pink in the middle…)
A lovely bit of meat – slightly pink in the middle and with a crust that had plenty of pimenton in it – thus it was sweet, smoky and intensley savoutry all at the same time.

We had just enough room left for dessert now, and were glad we did – some fresh fried doughnuts with vanilla ice-cream were a gron up kids treat, while the santiago tart, laden with almonds and dried fruit was like having Christmas in the summertime. Capped off with a ridiculously strong Poire William and a great armagnac we left full and satisfied.

The bill wasn’t cheap (bulked out by a very good white Rioja) at over a ton, but the question to be asked is “would I go again?”

I’d go there every day for weeks if I could.