Review: Tapa Barra y Restaurante


Posted by in May's Magazine

Tapa Barra y Restaurante, located on Shore Place in Leith, has recently opened. The editor crashed the opening night, and raved about the Flamenco dancing chef as well as the flowing wine and tapas. Owner Robert Scobie was actually involved in two of the city’s better-known tapas restaurants, Tapas Tree and Tapas Ole, before heading down-under to Western Australia with his wife Kate and young family. They then worked their way back to Edinburgh via Spain, to top up their knowledge of what constitutes the best tapas. So, my friend Sarah and I were hopeful it would be a hit, rather than a miss Things got off to a very good start when we walked through the door. Robert, we assumed, gave us a big smile from behind the bar, as did the other waiting staff as we were shown to our table. The décor was warm and inviting, two large canvases adorned the wall on either side of a very grand fireplace. The small bar area had an impressive array of bottles, as well as a shelf of large glass sweetie jars, full to the brim with colourful lollipops and other such kiddie delights. As in Spain, families are very welcome. The menu was not as complicated or verbose as some tapas restaurants tend to be – with a manageable number of dishes placed under the various headings of, meat, fish, vegetable, and world fusion tapas. We recognised a few of the staples you would expect to see, ‘patatas bravas’ and ‘Spanish tortilla’ but there were also a few more interesting sounding dishes so we agreed to pick a mixture of both. We chose three tapas each to remember, as it can be tricky trying to relay it back to the waiter, and chose another for good measure. The waitress actually recommended that we just take the six for now. How very honest of her, we thought, and she was absolutely right. Six ended up being plenty. We had the following tapas: Croquetas de Jamon y Queso – ham and cheese croquettes served with garlic mayo (£4.00). A generous portion of plump crunchy pillows, full of gooey hot cheese and smokey flavoured ham, was deemed a success by both of us. Alongside, we kept picking up slices of Embutidos del Casa – a selection of Spanish cured meats served with manchego cheese (£7.50) – It was all presented on a wooden chopping board along with marinated olives, and was great value. The meats included, as you’d expect, thick slices of spicy chorizo, and melt in the mouth serrano ham. The manchego cheese was wonderfully creamy and complemented the other stronger flavours. The Gambas Pil Pil – prawns in spicy olive oil (£5.50), was our least favourite dish, which surprised both of us, as this was the one we’d been most looking forward to. We had expected larger prawns, but we couldn’t really moan about the portion size. We were served with a sizzling plate full of succulent little morsels, in a delicious sauce. The negative comment being that we felt the prawns were a little too fishy – for our palates anyway. The vegetable options included the Esparragos y Pimientos a la Plancha con Queso – basically asparagus and Spanish peppers grilled with cheese (£4.85). This was a scrummy dish, the bitterness of the asparagus offset by the sweetness of the peppers and the savoury cheese. The star of the veggie dishes had to be the Berengenas Sofia – which, in Spanish, doesn’t give too much away…It’s actually baked aubergine with a tomato and herb compote, served with cheese (£4.25). The portion, again, was very generous, and this was a dish we could easily have eaten a lot more of. The Ensaladilla Rusa was the simplest thing we sampled. It was more of a side dish than a stand-alone tapas – a traditional Spanish-Russian salad (£4.25), of finely chopped potatoes, carrots and peas, in a light mayonnaise. All of this was washed down with a perfectly chilled bottle of house white (£10.95). Desserts were offered, and they all sounded very tempting, from traditional Spanish Crème Caramel to Dark Chocolate Torte, but we were simply too full. Instead we enjoyed complimentary liqueurs – we chose the one that is used in the Crème Caramel – it tasted a little like Bailey’s Irish Cream. It finished off the meal perfectly. Despite the non-appearance of the Flamenco dancing chef, I think we can safely say that our Spanish experience was most definitely a hit.

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