10 November 2013

My Kind of Tapas

This weekend represents take two of birthday season. Of my close friends from university, four of us have birthdays within the space of six days and yesterday it was Dr Linguist's 30th. He is celebrating by walking 30 miles of the Thames Path through London this weekend, and although we were invited to join him on his trek there were also various fixed points for lunch and dinner along the way.

I decided to join him and a few others for dinner in Covent Garden last night, and he picked a lovely, intimate Spanish place in Maiden Lane called Condesa. With only a handful of tables and a few seats at the bar, it's tiny inside, which made me feel even more ridiculous turning up carrying a huge DVD storage unit (long story, but the combination of the Lord Mayor's Show and various Remembrance Day and Christmas lights events, meant that I could not get my bus back across the river to drop my things off at home as planned). Luckily, we were sitting at the back, under the neon vino sign, and there was just enough room for it.

Condesa reminded me a lot of a place in New York's West Village with a similar name — Café Condesa — which I visited some six years ago and which is similarly petite and with the 'kitchen' located within the bar. As there were five of us, we decided to each order one tapas plate and then get some potatoes, bread and olives to share; we would then order seconds of the plates we particularly liked. The others got a jug of sangría, but I don't like it, so I went for a mojito instead. I was particularly pleased when it showed up in a cute jar, and even more pleased when it was really good.

My elected tapas dish was, of course, the pulled pork pibil sliders, and they were excellent. You only get two and they're quite small, so after they had been shared out, we all decided we needed another pair. The menu is definitely very Latin American-influenced, which suits this Mexican-food-loving blogger perfectly.

We also devoured some cheese, a couple of plates of chorizo, some pig cheek tacos, some chorizo fondue and — another particular favourite of mine — some chicken chipotle and mozzarella quesadillas. The potatoes with spicy tomato were the first dish we ordered and the very last to show up (even after our seconds), which meant we got them on the house. In all, with at least a cocktail or a couple of glasses of sangría each, and more than enough food, we only ended up paying £25 each, including service. As well as allowing you to try lots of different dishes, having tapas served gradually over a two-hour period means you can eat slowly and don't end up over-eating.

Then it was time to drag my DVD rack down to the stop for my bus home. It was just outside Somerset House so I nipped inside to admire the Christmas tree and skating rink. Even though I can't condone Christmas celebrations until at least after my birthday, it did look very lovely, as usual.

Condesa. 15 Maiden Lane, London, WC2E 7NG (Tube: Covent Garden or Leicester Square). Website. Twitter.

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