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.