Every year I visit a great pal in Estepona, not far from Gibraltar. We spend many hours eating tapas in the beach huts by the sea.
Small plates in Spain are so very civilised – sharing a myriad of dishes that smell of the sea, that are spankingly fresh, that are paired with underrated and extraordinarily cheap wines. What, indeed, is not to love?
It’s a different story over here by and large. I find most tapas places over priced and underwhelming, so was a little wary of dining at The Tapas Kitchen in West Kirby.
Five of us met up at 6pm in this rather spacious, good looking and already buzzing restaurant.
Not wishing to break with tradition, I ordered a bottle of wine to sip whist perusing the menu and the chorus of approval for the Gruner Veltliner (£22) was almost thunderous. I have no idea why medium priced restaurants resist this lovely drop.
With the deal at £14.95 for three tapas including artisan bread with oil and vinegar, it meant we could just about try the entire tea time menu. Serano ham with pickled peppers, wild boar meatballs, patatas bravas with smoky aioli, Asturian bean stew with chorizo, tortilla with eggs, potatoes and melted manchego and everyone had their own plate of butter poached prawns.
An extremely generous portion of delicious bread came promptly, followed shortly by some very handsome looking dishes.
My serrano ham was sublime – a soft, salty, meaty delight and the sharp pickles were a perfect partner.
The Asturian bean stew and dense, smoky chorizo were a huge hit with everyone.
For me the meatballs were the biggest triumph of flavour and texture, lying in a shiny pool of sofrito.
The tortilla was very rich, a bit too much for me but it was four against one, as it was eagerly devoured by my companions.
We were in unison over the prawns, however. Watery butter drowned the prawns – the sauce and the prawn were pretty tasteless; I’m not sure why they served them this way.
The service was really very good and overall I was hugely impressed with this gem of a Spanish inspired restaurant.
Quality, simplicity, good wine, pleasant setting, terrific value for money. What more can you ask a restaurant? Nothing really.