The fiery independent spirit of Catalan is deliciously alive in Soho and it is turning out the most brilliantly ambitious and original dishes smacked with flavour and authenticity. Who thought anyone could compete with Barrafina for the best tapas in London, and with prices to make us rub our eyes in disbelief?
Victor Garvey – the chef behind Encant and Sybarita in Covent Garden who started out in high-octane gastronomic kitchens in Spain and LA – has absolutely nailed it with his third restaurant on Dean Street in Soho.
The restaurant is inspired by Garvey’s youth spent in Barcelona (it is named after the famous street near where he lived) and his love affair with the cuisine shines through. We can almost hear fellow diners – very foodie, very animated, very jeans clad, all ages – smacking their lips with appreciation as they, like us, order more and more.
The menu is split into four sections: Vegetarian; Raw & Cured; Fish & Seafood: Meat and Game. Dishes come fast and furious from the open kitchen.
Spinach croquetas with crisp shells ooze warm, creamy deliciousness. They're frankly the best we've tasted outside of Spain.
For those of us, fixated on anchovies, these from the port of L'Escala are definitive, properly fleshy, salty and strong and served with Hedone sourdough (London's definitive loaf) and sweet L'Orbrador butter. Sashimi-grade cod on a salad of tomatoes, red peppers and black olives is lyrically fresh. Don't miss mussels and clams opened in white wine with shards of Serrano ham and the clever conceit of spider crab butter. Even in winter the gazpacho, peppered with tiny vegetables and served in a special glass goblet that lies on its side, demands tasting. Every dish is a steal at £7 or under.
Seabass a la plancha with a Jerusalem artichoke puree and port poached salsify, and quail drumsticks wrapped in pancetta to dip into Pansals wine sauce both explode with flavour. There are no disappointments.
Spanish desserts, crema catalans aside can be dull, the warm apricot and almond coulant (an almond based sponge) served with homemade frozen yoghurt is refined yet ultra comforting and sticky-rich.
To drink, there's plenty of good cava, we love the vast choice of gin and tonics and the ridiculously affordable and excellent wine list.
The room itself brilliantly evokes the breezy freshness of a relaxed beachfront bar in Barcelona, with its blue tiling, white bleached wooden floorboards, funky ratafia lights over the kitchen counter, and wooden tables and chairs with shabby chic white linen covers. The beguilingly laid-back yet hugely well versed staff, make us feel totally relaxed and wholly enhance Rambla's appeal.
Would we return? We'd happily move in.
Price: £60.00+ dinner for two with a greedy succession of dishes and drinks
|Where||Rambla Soho, 64 Dean St, Soho, , London , W1D 4QG | MAP|
|Nearest tube||Leicester Square (underground)|
04 Oct 17 – 04 Oct 18, Mon-Sun 12 noon - 11.30pm
|Website||Click here to book|