Wednesday, 14 June 2017

Eating Out in Bath: Tapas Revolution

There is a lovely tapas restaurant in the coastal town of Calella de Palafrugell that encapsulates everything I love about Mediterranean food. Just moments from the beach, it's a simple, unpretentious place that doesn't require you to change out of your sandy sandals or beach dress to gain entry; it's the sort of restaurant you can wander into direct from your sun-lounger when the promise of an ice-cold cerveza and plate of glistening olives can be resisted no longer.

Featuring a counter top heaving with tempting morsels of deliciousness, Calau, as it's called, is my favourite kind of eating place, a restaurant where you can try a multitude of dishes and just keep on going till you're full, with a glass of rosado to wash it all down with. Forget Michelin-starred restaurants - when I imagine heaven, I imagine a limitless supply of fluffy clouds and kittens, and tapas restaurants on every corner.

As such, you won't be surprised that I was pretty excited to hear about a new tapas restaurant that has recently arrived at the thriving Southgate quarter in Bath. Having sampled a few of the other additions to this part of the city, I was interested to see Tapas Revolution adding to the mix with the promise of authentic tapas using ingredients sourced from artisan producers in Spain. 

The seventh opening in a small chain, Tapas Revolution has the rather dashing Spanish TV chef, Omar Allibhoy, as its figurehead. With fans including Gordon Ramsay (who calls the chef 'the Antonio Banderas of cooking') and a whole raft of celebs (he's made tapas for everyone from Johnny Depp to Prince William) I was curious to see if his offering would stand up to to the glitzy endorsements. 

I was also - as a bit of a gin lover - interested to hear that Tapas Revolution "honours Spain's position as the biggest consumer of Gin and Tonics in Europe." I knew there was another reason why I've always felt that Spain is my spiritual home...

Taking inspiration from the bustling tapas bars in Madrid, Barcelona and Spain, the feeling I got on entering the restaurant was certainly Iberian - despite its contemporary twist, the interior pays homage to traditional Spanish style with its wine barrel tables, Feria posters and encaustic tiles. It's always nice when the staff feel authentic too - our waitress reminded me of an actress from a Pedro Almodovar film which added an extra frisson of excitement to our experience.

But it's not just about looks, of course. Lunchtimes in the UK can't always be as unhurried and languid as they are in Spain, and we were on a tight schedule to get back to Bristol in time for school pick up. Obviously, the norm with tapas is for each dish to come as it's ready, but there were no long gaps in between and everything we ordered arrived with plenty of time for us to enjoy the merits of each dish. 

We had a pretty broad spread of tapas favourites, washed down with a 'porron' of crisp rose. With generous portions served piping hot, both me and my guest were seriously impressed with the quality and value - most dishes come in at around the £6 mark, with the most expensive tapa (a platter of jamon and chorizo Iberico) priced at £13.75. 

I took literally minutes to devour a plate of crisp calamares - some of the best I've had this side of Seville - while the boquerones served in a reduction of Asturian cider were just amazing. I tend to gravitate towards fish dishes when perusing a tapas menu, but we also had some lovely manchego with quince jelly, crispy patatas bravas, croquetas de jamon and chorizo a la parilla - this was another highlight. 

A delicious slab of grilled chorizo and pequillo pepper served on olive-oil brushed bread, this dish made we want to immediately check the price of EasyJet flights to Madrid. 

You'd think we'd be full after that line-up, but we somehow couldn't resist the lure of one of our favourite puddings - Crema Catalana. Let's just say that I made pretty good use of that "extra spoon." 

Finishing off with a restorative espresso, I could easily have meandered out into the sunshine, found a deckchair and succumbed to another favourite Spanish tradition - the siesta - for the afternoon. 

Sadly, Tuesday afternoons in term time aren't really conducive to that perfect encapsulation of Spanish languor. But I'm hoping my next visit to Tapas Revolution will be a little less hurried, with the chance to sample some of the other mouthwatering dishes - and exciting sounding gin cocktails - on the menu. 

I'm not sure Tapas Revolution is doing anything truly revolutionary but who cares - it's certainly doing Spanish classics, friendly service and warm atmosphere really, really well. And that's absolutely muy bien by me. 

You can find Tapas Revolution at 20a St Lawrence Street, Southgate, Bath. Visit the website for more info here.

With many thanks to Tapas Revolution Bath and Neil Reading PR, who kindly offered me a complimentary lunch. I have not been paid for writing this post and all opinions are my own.

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