Tuesday, 21 February 2012


I expected a lot from Fino. After all, its cooler sibling - Barrafina in Soho - has people queuing day in and day out to prop up at the bar for a culinary trip around Spain (in particular, Barcelona, home to Cal Pep which Sam and Eddie Hart allegedly modelled Barrafina on).

First impressions aren't great. Who wants to sit in a dark sombre, and largely empty, dining room to eat tapas?

Service was effusive, and the list of sherries imaginative, but disappointment didn't stop at the setting. The tortilla (£6.80) was melt-in-the-middle. Egg yolk and butter ran out into a pool on the plate when I cut into it. Weird, and not particularly pleasant. I'd take Moro's tortilla over theirs any day, be it authentic or not. Like Cal Pep, it disappointed on the fried options too, the batter being too heavy and overwhelming. To conclude my grumbles, six tiny triangles of Manchego with a nugget of quince paste was £6.80: feeling robbed is a particularly effective appetite dampener.

Time for the good news. The spatchcocked grilled quail (£7.80) from the plancha was perfect. Moist and succulent, and perfectly seasoned.

The chips (£4.70), crisp baby artichokes (£6.80) and pan con tomate were just okay.

Our bill came to £72 for 2. Hardly cheap. I've had better meals at Salt Yard, better tapas at Moro and Opera Tavern, and if you're looking for the real deal you just have to book a flight to Barcelona and head straight for the Pinotxo bar at La Boqueria market, home to simply spectacular tapas.

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