Saturday, 12 November 2011

Restaurant Review: Capote Y Toros

This is a review originally written for Blue Tomato magazine and I think I need say no more than "100 varieties of sherry". Yep, it's great.


Modern Spanish restaurant Cambio de Tercio and tapas bar Tendido Cero have put Old Brompton Road on the map as a destination for Spanish dining. The man who runs them, along with newer restaurant Tendido Cuatro in Parsons Green, is Abel Lusa, one of the most hospitable restaurateurs in the industry. When we heard that he was gracing the road with another venue, a ham and sherry bar, we knew we had to pay it a visit.
Capote y Toros is small. Tiny, in fact. There’s barely more than a handful of tables and a small bar area at which diners can sit, but no space is wasted. Legs of ham hang from the ceiling, 

whilst most of the wall is dedicated to what is best described as a library of sherry. Capote y Toros has no fewer than 100 sherries on their books, and a whopping 50 of these are available by the glass. Nowhere else in London, if the world, can come close.

As we tuck into the numerous tapas dishes available, we make it our aim to try as many of these sherries as possible (without going past the point of remembering them, of course!) and so are glad to take our waiter up on the offer of food and sherry matches.

A light, dry and nutty tasting Fino sherry kicks things off with olives and salted almonds, followed by a Manzanilla sherry that is more subtle but incredibly refreshing – a perfect match for pan con tomate, and boquerones (marinated anchovies). Soft, freshly baked bread rolls served still warm are provided in an ever replenished breadbasket for mopping up the juices, whilst we follow our waiter’s advice and try the two sherries side by side to notice the different characteristics gained from the contrasting ageing processes of the otherwise identical wines.

A darker coloured, richer flavoured and just slightly sweet Amontillado is the next sherry, and it couldn’t be a better pairing for a generous plate full of carefully sliced ham, which is the Osborne Cinco Jotas brand – widely regarded as amongst the very best Spain has to offer. It’s bold and almost spicy with a hit of umami. To say that it simply melts in the mouth is something of a cliché, but it really does.

A fuller-bodied Palo Cortado sherry is next in line, accompanying a final main course sweep of cheesy stuffed peppers and robust meatballs that live up to their meaty name, served in a sweet, slow-cooked tomato sauce. The star of the course, is a carpaccio (or whatever the Spanish would like to call that…) of foie gras drizzled with a reduction of achingly sweet almost balsamic-like Pedro Ximenez sherry. It’s soft, delicate, tender and epitomises the intricacy and skill that is at work in the restaurant’s kitchen. In fact, never mind it being the best dish of the course, it’s one of the best (and most original) tapas dishes we’ve had.

Dessert offers the proverbial icing on the cake, with a sweet Oloroso sherry accompanying a fig and Oloroso mousse. Aside from being bloody delicious, this cleverly resembles a British trifle, which we like to think is a gentle nod to the fact that this is the sole form most Brits under the age of 65 consume sherry in.

Spread the word, folks. Sherry is officially cool. And what better place to drink it than in this homage to Spain’s national drink. We left Capote y Toros full and just slightly merry, without a single criticism and brimming with praise at the efficiency, knowledge and enthusiasm of the staff, even in the restaurant’s first week of opening. More impressive still, we left having learnt a great deal about both ham and sherry, and with a burning desire to find out even more. We recommend every foodie in London to get down there pronto. Just make sure you leave a seat for us, please

Capote Y Toros, 157 Old Brompton Road, SW5 0LJ

>> originally published in Blue Tomato magazine

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