We were close to desperation when we spotted Tierra Brindisa from across the t-junction between Broadwick Street and Lexington Street in Soho. Both our pre-planned lunch options had failed us by being closed after 3pm. We had tried several places off the cuff, but like Mary and Joseph we were turned away. There was no room at the inn. We were wandering through Soho like hyenas on the prowl. Across the stone clad street, we spotted an unassuming green door. It beckoned invitingly like the transom into Never, Neverland. On close inspection it was Tierra Brindisa, sister restaurant to Tapas Brindisa in Borough Market. In between gnawing at Keith's femur, I managed to utter the simple words “Are you still serving?” at the Waitress. She answered yes and beckoned us to pole position in the corner leather seats on the frontline of the restaurant
We shrugged of our Christmas baggage and immediately sought refuge in the wine list where a cheeky Conde de Valdemar Crianza 2006 beckoned seductively. It might as well have been steaming hot Ribena as this was seriously quaffable. This wine has tobacco and black pepper undertones but the dominant Tempranillo grape (90%) gives this it an amazing Jessica Rabbit appeal… full bodied.
Keith and I settled in and noticed they had borrowed out chill out music from home, which was a big mistake on their part as we had decided we were now part of the furniture based on the Conde de Valdemar.,
We were not in a rush, especially after knowing there was only Christmas shopping on the other side of that green door, so decided to order our Tapas Spanish stylée, that is, as required. We are all about the dried cured meats (I like to pretend it contributes to my Atkins diet), so we ordered a charcuterie plate of spicy chorizo, peppery salchichon and Teruel ham and loin. Our platter was served with bread and a gloopy olive oil. Amazing. The charcuterie plate was everything we believe in. Happy pigs skulking around the countryside being happy some more, and then when reincarnated, are happy tasty dried cured meats. Simple, pure ingredients of high quality that have been cared for.
Later we chose our tapas; Ham and chicken croquetas, octopus a la gallega, revuelto of eggs with wild mushrooms and truffle oil and prawns al ajillo, served with herby salad dressed in a moscatel vinaigrette. The croquetas were piping hot, crispy on the outside with a smooth paste consistency on the inside, bar tiny nibs of ham. They were of course accompanied by the food nod. The chilli, garlic prawns had been served at the same time. We have to admit, initially we were a little disappointed. My mother makes restaurant quality prawns and we did not really feel that that they compared. We were promised garlic and expected it. We then had the idea of basting and turning over our pink friends. We left them a few minutes and retired to the revuelto, which was a good move. When we returned to our rosy crustaceans it was as it should be; pungent and powerful. The revuelto was yummy. The truffle oil was not too over powering, but nonetheless aromatic and rich. It was the deal breaker to the dish which would have otherwise been scrambled eggs and 'shrooms. Our favourite tapas was the octopus a la gallega. We do not shy from our eight-legged mate, who so many think is tougher than OJ Simpson. But no, the octopus was cooked perfectly and full of flavour. The accompanying sautéed potatoes were spicy and offered a contrast in texture to the tenderised octopus. You must try this dish you make it to Tierra Brindisa, as this is how Octopus should be cooked.
We were on a roll. The Baked la Bauma cheesecake, made from goats cheese and accompanied with tomato jam, streaks of honey and a dusting of cinnamon was the only choice for us (we shared). We decided on Finca Antigua (Moscatel) from the La Mancha region as our dessert wine. We loved the rich and unusual flavours incorporated in this dessert but they work best in unison. Could they not be somehow brought together? This would mean that whilst I chat away (as I invariably do) and forget to run my spoon through the honey, I do not feel like I lucked out with my mouthful. By the way, it is undeniable that goats cheese and tomatoes are a winning combinations. We have not had such an uncontrived dessert in a while.
Last but not least, Cheese. The cheese board selection had an abundance of variety; Goats cheese, Manchego, Mahon cow's milk cheese and Valdeón Picos de Europa. Then enhancing the favours of the cheeses were quince paste, red grapes, tomato jam and an almond fig roulade. Keith is all about the variety so the ample choice was heaven for him. The xylophone of mild to strong cheese also allows the diner to enjoy a full range of regional cheese. This was one of the most comprehensive selections of cheeses we have experience in a while.
I want to stop here in our synopsis of “lunch”. I will use that word lightly as at one stage I was almost begging the waitress to “let us go”. Like she had some magic hold over us. Minx. It might have been the delectable wine or the prospect of more Christmas shopping, but the lure of drinking the granacha and seeking sanctuary in Tierra Brindisa was too enticing! There were two more glasses of wine and a guest appearance from my sister, and we left smugly satisfied we had evaded the last of the Christmas shopping, at least until this morning…