The last time I visited Cafe Andaluz was shortly before I started this blog and I was starting to feel like it was about time I reviewed one of their restaurants. When Eve said she would take me to lunch for my birthday and told me to choose somewhere, I decided it was the perfect opportunity to take advantage of their lunchtime deal of three tapas for £10.95.
Given that Christmas is fast approaching I was expecting there to be a few full tables but, when we arrived at lunchtime, the place was empty. In fact, we were the only customers for the entirety of our meal and if I hadn’t been to Cafe Andaluz before I would have been starting to worry about what we were in for. However, I know the usual quality of their food is good so we set about choosing our six dishes without really caring about the lack of company.
We both immediately jumped to the Calamares, as we’re both big fans of squid. They weren’t the crispiest rings I’ve had and were slightly chewy – disappointing as I’ve had far better squid from Cafe Andaluz before. The Carne De Res Picante was my only other disappointment – not a bad dish, but I can only get so excited about strips of beef piled on top of rocket with a mound of Manchego cheese. The beef itself could have done with more oomph (it was billed as spicy, after all) and I would have preferred it had the cheese not been in that awkward stage between not-melted and melted.
Our only order from the veggie section of the menu was the Patatas Gratinadas – soft, well-cooked slices of potato in a smooth, creamy garlic sauce topped with stringy cheese. This is one of my favourite dishes and it didn’t fail to impress this time around either. One dish which was new to me was the Pollo Rebozado Con Miel. Chosen by Eve due to her love of honey dressings, the chunky, tender chicken fillets were coated in a light batter and swimming in a sweet honey and mustard dressing. The sweetness of the dressing was just right, tempered by the kick from the grain mustard, and was a prefect compliment to the crispy chicken. A new one to Eve was one of my regular orders – pork cheeks. The Carillada De Cerdo comes with two meaty pig cheeks with chickpeas in a chilli, smoked paprika and honey glaze. As usual, the meat fell apart and was melt-in-the-mouth – delicious with the sweet, smoky sauce that surrounded them.
The winning dish for me, however, was the Croquetas De Jamón Y Queso. Crispy croquettes were stuffed with salty Serrano ham and gooey Manchego – a perfect combination of flavours and textures.
Unusually for Cafe Andaluz, all the dishes arrived together instead of as and when they were ready. This meant a couple of dishes weren’t quite as hot as they could be, and I figured that this might be down to us being the only customers. At busier periods, I would expect the kitchen to be preparing a much higher volume of food and for it to arrive piping hot.
A couple of slight disappointments, but Cafe Andaluz is still one of the better Spanish restaurants I’ve visited and I haven’t been put off returning.