Bravas Tapas (London)

Everyone who eats with me knows that I have some trouble sharing food – though I have gotten much better over the years – and that if I’m willing to share, I must like you quite enough (or not like the food a whole lot hahaha). Tapas and dim sum are exceptions to the rule though, since the whole premise there is sharing.

I’d read about this place a really long time ago and have been meaning to come since it very first opened because of one dish in particular: the foie gras creme catalana, which we’ll get to in a mo. But it’s taken me something like… a year? Sorry folks! Still, I’ve heard a lot of great stuff about it, and I’m glad I came here to try it for myself!

It’s a short walk from Tower Hill/Gateway stations, located along Saint Katharine Docks, which must be one of the prettiest places in London.

Obviously this picture doesn’t do it justice because little cold me was hustling along to the restaurant in the dusk!

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I also want to apologise in advance for how much of an Essex-tinge the photos have but I blame the low lighting! It’s a shame though, as the food was all really quite beautiful.

So. As per usual with virtually all my friends, I was playing the waiting game, which, thankfully, was made quite bearable with my new friend Estrella.

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Anyway. As always with tapas, you should get about 3 dishes per person.

Fresh Salmon ‘Rulada’ - Shoestring Sweet Potato, Spicy Citrus (£7)

Fresh Salmon ‘Rulada’ – Shoestring Sweet Potato, Spicy Citrus (£7)

I hadn’t thought of ordering this at first but I simply couldn’t say no after our server had enthused so much over it! It certainly was very popular with all the other tables as well. It’s essentially a smoked salmon roulade wrapped around crispy wisps of fried sweet potato. We ended up liking this quite a lot, especially the creamy sauce that came with it, and ordered another serving later on. I’ll definitely get it again in future.

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For me, patatas bravas are always a must.

Brava Potatoes - Salsa Brava, whipped-to-order aioli (£4)

Brava Potatoes – Salsa Brava, whipped-to-order aioli (£4)

We were really impressed by these mini tong-like contraptions that we were given to eat with because it meant we could pick and dunk without having to dirty our fingers. I liked that the potatoes and the condiments were served separately, so that, firstly, the spuds don’t become soggy, and secondly, you get to have every single tiny chunk of potato with the condiments, which are mighty tasty. I liked the aioli as well, which was nice and garlicky.

Gambas are another staple for me when it comes to tapas.

Gambas al Ajillo - £9

Gambas al Ajillo – £9

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These were on the specials board. Unfortunately, they were really only just okay, and for me, were the only disappointment of the night. To their credit, they were fresh and crunchy, very garlicky, but lacking in punch and flavour compared to everything else. Definitely not worth the £9, with which I could’ve gotten another serving of the next dish, which I loved.

Grilled Octopus - toasted garlic, olive oil (£8)

Grilled Octopus – toasted garlic, olive oil (£8)

I mean. We all know I am completely OBSESSED with grilled octopus/squid and have to order it whenever it’s on the menu. This was great. Even though it was a little bit salty, I could definitely eat a whole plate myself. (Or four.)

Now, the next dish was the dish I absolutely had to had to haaaad to get! And the main reason I had wanted to come here in the first place.

Foie Gras ‘Crema Catalana’ - Cherries, Bellota Ham, Home Made Brioche (£11)

Foie Gras ‘Crema Catalana’ – Cherries, Bellota Ham, Home Made Brioche (£11)

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If you remember how much I love the foie gras creme brûlée at Duck & Waffle (see post here), then you’ll know just how much I was looking froward to trying this! Flavor-wise, the cherries and flaked almonds were good accompaniments, and again, I liked the sweetness of the bruleed sugar crust. However, overall, I think I would still prefer the foie gras creme brûlée at D&W. Not because of the lobster, mind, but because of the flavour and texture of the actual mousse, which is just that little bit tastier and fattier. I stress that I wasn’t disappointed at all though, and would happily eat this again.

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But of course, we also had to have some meats!

Roasted Iberian Pork Belly - Piquillo Pepper Glaze (£7)

Roasted Iberian Pork Belly – Piquillo Pepper Glaze (£7)

This was good. N ate it as well, even though she doesn’t normally like pork belly as she finds it too fatty. This was just right though, but be warned that the skin isn’t meant to be crispy. The meat itself was still unctuous and juicy though.

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And if there’s one thing I like more than pork belly, it’s LAMB.

Moorish Spiced Lamb Chops - Rosemary Aioli (£9)

Moorish Spiced Lamb Chops – Rosemary Aioli (£9)

This was DELICIOUS. I know they don’t look like much, but it’s only because, for some strange reason, they only seared these on one side? I only discovered this belatedly when I flipped them over after taking this photo. Nevertheless, this was very tasty and desirably fatty, and paired really well with the rosemary aioli. I’ll definitely order it again.

Then it was dessert time! To be honest, I didn’t have high hopes for the desserts, but er, let’s be realistic here… that’s never really stopped me before now, has it?!

Torta de Santiago - PX, Morello Cherry (£5)

Torta de Santiago – PX, Morello Cherry (£5)

I can stomach all (or most) fruits in dessert form, but I tend to avoid cherry. I am never one to abide by the rules though – especially my own – so I ordered this anyway, hoping that I would at least enjoy the torte. Unfortunately, the main disappointment for me here turned out to be the cake. I ordered this hoping for a dense, intensely almondy cake, but it truly wasn’t that great. It was quite damp, the crumb wasn’t quite coarse enough for my liking, and in terms of flavour, I didn’t find it aromatic enough. I couldn’t really detect any PX (pedro ximenez, in case you were wondering, which is a type of sherry), so to me it didn’t taste particularly alcoholic. I wouldn’t order it again myself, and it wouldn’t be because of the cherry.

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Thankfully though, the next dessert was able to make up for it. The ‘torrijas’ came highly recommended by the waiter, who hadn’t been wrong with the salmon roulade before, and certainly wasn’t wrong this time either, as this was very good indeed.

Torrijas - Caramelized brioche pudding, passion fruit sorbet (£5)

Torrijas – Caramelized brioche pudding, passion fruit sorbet (£5)

 

It’s essentially a cross between French toast and bread and butter pudding, much like the pain perdu at La Petite Maison (see post here). Obviously it doesn’t hold a candle to the LPM pain perdu, which is the dessert to rule them all, but it was still gorgeous, and I’ll definitely order it again in future. The pudding itself was eggy, creamy and custardy all at once, but was almost too soft, bordering a little on soggy, lacking the texture and structure of the LPM pain perdu. The accompaniments were great though – the passion fruit sorbet was bright and tart against the vanilla sweetness of the pudding, and the almond flakes provided great crunch. Yum.

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Overall, I think we all really enjoyed our meal. I’ve tried quite a number of tapas places here in London and, along with Jose’s (which I promise I’ll post about sometime), this may potentially be my favourite so far. Their menu is not extremely extensive but there’s still sufficient variety to suit all palates. They have your typical tapas dishes – patatas bravas, octopus, gambas, pork belly, lamb – but all interpreted in a pretty unique way. I’m definitely returning sometime with a proper camera so that I can hopefully provide you with better pictures!

 

BRAVAS TAPAS

SAINT KATHARINE DOCKS

EAST SMITHFIELD

LONDON

E1W 1AT

Opening times:

Mon to Sat: 12 to 1030PM

Sun: 12 to 10PM

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