Surprisingly, it was my sister who discovered details of the soft-launch of Tapas Brindisa’s latest sibling, Morada Brindisa Asador, based in Piccadilly. Normally, I’m the first to know about the latest openings. However, as I was enjoying a holiday in Kenya at the time, I fell off the band-wagon of soft-launches. And a welcome back Friday evening this did turn out to be, one over which family and old friends could reunite in the Spanish tapas sharing style.
The interior design of this new space is striking. Typically, it was rustic-chic, dominated by a central island bar and kitchen around which diners may sit. Customers may thus watch the chefs preparing their food, whilst enjoying a relaxing drink from an attractive list which includes a fine selection of Spanish wines and sherry. After all, the name of the restaurant comes from the Spanish word ‘Brindis’, meaning to raise your glass in celebration.
Designed by the savvy CantorMasters, the design is dominated by natural materials inspired by the colours of Spain. The restaurant’s floor tiles, for example, have been sourced in Spain and with their traditional motif they’re burnt amber and warm orange. On the walls, weathered brass lights contrast against the rough plastered walls. Vintage wooden ceiling fans also complement the bespoke brass pendant lights, whilst the decorative over bar, complete with ham hanging rails and made from oxidised steel, brings a touch of industrial chic. The only problem is the tiny tables. A meal here is part feast, part jigsaw puzzle, as waiters and diners collaborate to find space. Indeed, when a glass of red wine was accidentally spilled and broken on our table, chaos ensued.
With a focus on the Castilian tradition of roasting foods in a wood-fired oven (asador), the menu is heavily meat-focused. My companion and I were therefore faced with limited options, although our waitress was more than willing to recommend choices and ask the chef to adapt dishes to suit our diets. Whilst the meat-eaters in our party feasted on Suckling pig and Milk-fed lamb, we chose salads, char-grilled vegetables and a plate of very special potatoes. For our sharing starter, we couldn’t resist a few Padrón peppers (£5.75), which are Galician peppers simply fried and salted. They were fantastically fresh and juicy. Indeed, the best tapas was the simplest things on offer, such as their Coca Bread with Tomato (£3.50) brushed first with garlic and then drizzled with olive oil and served with a tomato. As is usual of Brindisa, the wonderful quality of the produce is allowed to shine.
For mains, we enjoyed the Morada Salad (£7.00), a simple salad of lettuce, heirloom tomatoes, olives, and my addition of garlic fried chickpeas and spinach, as well as our specially ordered onions with an outstanding smoky-paprika tasting mojo (sauce).
Our seasonal greens for the evening were sprouting and garlicy broccoli, which complemented the chickpeas well. The highlight for me was the Wrinkled potatoes (£5.25), which included a couple of servings of purple potatoes and was enjoyed alongside two more delicious mojos.
Although the vegetarian options were limited, the quality of the produce at Brindisa is outstanding. Indeed, Brindisa first arrived in Borough Market in the 1990s as food importers, bringing first-rate Iberian hams, cheeses and other essentials to the city almost for the first time. The rest of my table certainly enjoyed the selection of cheeses ordered. As they describe themselves, “Brindisa, the importer, is the cornerstone on which Brindisa Tapas Kitchens was built. The wonderful foods that we select from Spain reach your table with all the support and enthusiasm that we can muster“. The upsurge in Spanish foods in London can be back-dated to this tradition.
The price of our evening – particularly with the 50% soft launch discount – was reasonable. Most of the tapas dishes are priced at between £5 and £8, with only a couple beyond that. For the evening’s attentive, although often extremely slow service, that’s not a bad price. Indeed, so apologetic was our waitress about the delays in our food’s arrival was her offer of complimentary coffee with our deserts. In soft-launch style, we ordered a portion of each of the deserts: the Tarta de Santiago (£4.74), a deliciously chocolatey tart, a scoop of their Moarada ice-cream of the dia (mango) (£3.75), and the La Bauma Cheesecake (£4.74). The strong macchiatos certainly did their necessary job of washing away the overly eggy flavour of the cheesecake which my friend (and nutritionist) likened to an omelette!
Although not the finest Brindisa incarnation, Morada would suit meat-eaters and the combination of its design and (a slightly slow) service were admirable.
Morada Brindisa Asado, Piccadilly, 18-20 Rupert Street, London, W1D 6DF