Would you believe I ended up at Dehesabecause at the street festival “A Taste of Spain” (taking place on Regent Street) you couldn’t get a single glass of bloody wine ANYWHERE and in order to nab the most microscopic piece of jamòn you had to queue for 45 minutes at one of endless regional stands whilst anxious ladies thrust brochures up your nose under the sweltering sun. Taste of Spain? Waste of Spain if you ask me.
So anyway, Dehesa…. well they certainly saw the Brits coming. One of an endless newish crop of pinxos, tapas, cicchetti, over-priced tiny grilled things on plates that in Europe cost about 2 euros – type bars. The classic tortilla is £4. Yes, a combination of egg and potatoes. £4. For a quarter slice. Good? Hmm… if you can’t knock this one up better at home…
The food is good, don’t get me wrong, it’s just far from exceptional and lacks the heartiness and richness that real Spanish tapas can impart despite the small portions . A bowl of hard boiled quail’s eggs with rock salt and paprika at £5.50 was a bit too gimmicky for me, when they could have done something incredible had they poached them and burst them over some fresh asparagus for example. The salt to quail’s eggs ratio was enough to have the health police rushing round for a cholesterol check too, you could have baked a whole fish in the salt, there was that much of it.
I had mozzarella with olive tapenade and crostini. The sort of little dish that you get in Europe for about 5 euros and comes with a giant oozing cheese and four or five thick slices of grilled bread slathered with the black stuff. This was all twee and dinky, wee mozarellas of ok quality and two tiny crostini on a slice of bread that could double for a wheat thin spread with what can only be described as a “dainty smattering” of tapenade. As though it were marmite.
The biggest joke was the drink however. Davy’s wine bar knows its stuff when it comes to serving sherry. A decent glass can be obtained there for a fiver with little fuss or show. Here it took a good 15 minutes for a glass of fino to arrive and when it did, Raquel, who’d ordered the more expensive Manzanilla Pasada, had almost a third less in her glass than I did with my Ximenez . When she enquired as to the reason, we were fobbed off with a pretentious “its about the intensity of flavour and how it is imparted in a smaller quantity.” To which Raquel, a Spanish born-and-raised lady with considerable experience in the wine deparment simply scoffed “so, I pay more, and get less?” Then looked at me as it to say “can you imagine a waitress saying that to some crusty sherry-producing farmer in a smoky Andalucian bar and getting away with it alive?” TO which I could only cringe…
Now Polpo on Beak Street on the other hand… super cichetti!
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