By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
Famous for its bustling restaurant and street food scene, Shoreditch has been sadly devoid of wholesome, reasonably priced Spanish food – until now. Having opened earlier this year, the Shoreditch branch of Tapas Revolution is the third from chef Omar Allibhoy, and the first stand-alone spot, with restaurants already open in Westfield Shepherd’s Bush and Bluewater Shopping Centre in Kent. Striving to continue the mission of bringing his own interpretation of tapas bars to London, Tapas Revolution is inspired by Omar’s hometown of Madrid – taking residence at the city end of Bethnal Green Road, just a stone’s throw from Spitalfields, Boxpark and Brick Lane.
As for the menu, aside from a daily changing Paella and a set lunch menu, the core focus is on tapas (unsurprisingly) split into five subheadings: ‘nibbles’, ‘hams and cheese’, ‘meat’, ‘fish’, and ‘vegetables’. From the ‘nibbles’, two thick slices of bread spread with fresh ripe tomato, garlic and olive oil (£2.95) provide a promising inception. Chorizo a la parilla (£5.50) isn’t as exciting as the price tag suggests, instead a cannon of almost too subtly spiced sausage is delivered to the table. Fried croquettes of of Ibérico ham and béchamel (£5.50), on the other hand, are absolutely delicious; as are crispy strips of generously seasoned pork belly with the delicious fat intact and mojos verde (£5.75) – it’s the finest dish upon our visit. Unfortunately, one of the most expensive selections from the meat menu is also the most forgettable. Carapaccio de ternera (£6.25) features paper-thin slices of raw 45-day dry-aged rib eye, an expensive cut that on its own should taste remarkable. The delicate flavour of the beef, however, is overpowered by a heavy handed shaving of cheese that questions the relevance of using such precious beef when the only taste is of strong cheese.
Chosen from the vegetable section of the menu, patatas bravas are a welcome alternative to fries or chips, doused with a sweet-spicy sauce and aioli, our sweet Piquillo pepper and smoked cheese croquettes never arrive. Instead we’re instead provided with a pie dish of fried sweet green peppers. Although having been so caught up with the broad selection of dishes, it’s not until we’ve tucked into the erroneous pepper dish that it’s unlikely that the croquettes would have been half as delicious as these simple green peppers, which is a relief. In a part of the city that’s one of the most notorious for its exceptional restaurant scene, it’s fair to suggest that Tapas Revolution is far from taking the crown of Shoreditch’s finest eatery: but the food at Omar Allibhoy’s food opening, alone, does make the visit worthwhile, especially in order to take advantage of the especially well-priced set lunch menu.
Tapas Revolution can be found at 58 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 8JW.