I have been to Salt Yard on numerous occasions and it is one of my favourite places in London. For some reason I’ve never been to Opera Tavern its sister restaurant. It wasn’t as busy as I expected for Saturday lunchtime and the space is more formal than Salt Yard.
Slightly against my better judgement we went for the lunchtime set tapas menu. There were six tapas and as there were two of us we asked for the whole menu between us.
First up was Crab Croquettes with Shaved Fennel and Crab Aioli. Good crunch on the outside of the croquettes and velvety soft within. The shaved fennel was a good idea to cut through the crab though there was little describable crab flavour in either the croquettes or the aioli. The Roasted Beetroot Salad with Radish and Cumin Dressing and the Grilled Sardines with Ajo Blanco, San Marzano Tomatoes & Capers came along shortly after. The thin slices of radish played well against the sweetness of the beetroot and the cumin dressing was subtle and not overpowering. A well balanced dish. The sardines were perfectly cooked, crisp on the outside but still moist the capers cutting through the oiliness of the fish. It seems a bit churlish to complain about the size of a dish on a tapas menu but the pieces of sardine were tiny. They must have been half a fillet cut in half again they would have been small in a tasting menu.
Salad of Courgettes, Kohlrabi and Green Beans with Gorgonzola Dressing was a very light dish. It could have verged on the bland but the dressing pulled everything together and didn’t over power the vegetables which it might have done. Chorizo and chickpeas was good the earthiness of the chickpeas worked really well. Less successful was the Grilled Brisket with Pomegranate Glaze, Watercress, Radish and Tropea Onion. The piece of beef looked good and fell apart as it should and was a little dry. The less said about the glaze the better, there was far too much and it was overly sweet and too vinegary at the same time. It was more like a supermarket barbeque sauce.
Mid way through the meal I ordered a Morcilla Scotch Egg. I’ve had scotch eggs with black pudding and am not keen on the texture if served cold. This was of course warm with a perfectly rung yolk and the red pepper jam was a great accompaniment.
The wine list had a fairly good choice at not ridiculous prices and the white Rioja we had with the meal worked well even with the meat dishes as it had some sweetness and body. Compared with Salt Yard the cooking is a bit more refined but some of the dishes lack the oomph and generosity you get at Salt Yard. I would return but would probably go ALC and have more from the grill.
How were the courgettes and kohlrabi cut in the salad dish? It does sound interesting.
The courgettes were in ribbons and the kholrabi thinly sliced. The dressing was really well judged
I just booked here for our trip next month. We’ll definitely go ALC.
I was just here last month. It was my second visit to The Opera Tavern (the last visit was in 2013) and both times were in conjunction with theatre. I think Opera Tavern is an excellent post- theatre choice.
I had not planned to write a review so did not take detailed notes on my meal, but I had scallops, the stuffed courgette flowers, and lamp chops. The scallops were fine, but I could not help but compare them with the scallops that I had at Nopi the day before (which I thought were amazing). In comparison, these scallops just seemed average. The lamb was grilled thinly sliced rib chops and was very good. The courgette flower was stuffed with goat cheese, battered, fried crispy, and drizzled with honey — what’s not to like.
I tried two different wines and this is one of the things that I like about Opera Tavern. They have a really nice selection of reasonably priced (for London) wines by the glass.
The service was excellent. I got there about 9:45 on a Tuesday and was seated at the table upstairs by the window which I really appreciated as a solo diner. Thw waitress was attentive but not intrusive. When I first arrived, only a few tables were occupied. By about 10:15, the dining room was mostly full.
I’ll definitely return for a post-theatre meal as it ticks all the boxes — accepts reservations, kitchen open late, nice wines by the glass, and good variety of lighter options.
Thanks so much for posting this. I’m thinking 3 orders of the courgette flowers for the table! It sounds as if they have enough non-meaty stuff for Lulu and me, and of course my husband will be happy to have the opportunity to eat some ham.
I loved Nopi when we tried it a few years back. This time around we’re trying Palomar, and I’m hoping to get a reservation at The Ivy for our 3rd night. I’m a little nervous about this last one, both because there don’t seem to be any recent reports and because I don’t have the reservation yet.
They do have quite a few non meat options. I‘ve not had the courgette flowers at Opera Tavern but have a number of times at Salt Yard and they’re very good.
Also on both menus is the pork belly with canellini beans and rosemary. One of my favourite dishes in London and if your husband likes pork then I think he’d like this.
If you have any problems, check out the offers on Bookatable. Sometimes, they are really not any cheaper than the usual set menu, but I see quite a few interesting choices at times. I ate at Caxton with a friend who was visiting, and the food was very interesting and delicious. I’m going to have my husband take me there soon again!
The Palomar has just been voted best restaurant in the Observer Food magazine awards. Having read the article it looks right up my street.
This is so helpful zuriga. I’d never heard of bookatable. It looks as if Tuesday I should be able to book at the Ivy, so if that doesn’t work, it is to bookatable that I go.
Woohoo! If I hear any complaints from the family, I can tell them to send them to the Observer.
Happy to say that a call to The Ivy this morning got us our reservations for the last night in London. The online form wasn’t working, but the call took care of it right away. Yay. So for London we’re at The Palomar, Opera Tavern and then The Ivy.
That sounds very, very good!
Thanks zuriga, I’m hoping it will be. I"m sorry I won’t get to meet you on this trip. Fingers crossed for the next time.
You missed the pork and foie gras burger…??? If so you must return.
I’ve had it when they had a stall a Taste of London in Regents Park. Heretical as it may be I found it not to my taste. Too rich and too sweet for my palate.