Much as I loved Spain, I’ve never been very sure about their infamous Tapas. Usually, especially when searching in London the label of Tapas is normally an excuse to charge loads of money for teeny tiny portions of very bland food. Not so at this sliver of Spanish sunshine on Chiswick High Street.
To dream the impossible dream, To fight the unbeatable foe
To bear with unbearable sorrow, To run where the brave dare not go
The Ingenious Gentleman Don Quixote of La Mancha is a Spanish novel about an aging nobleman named Don Quixote becoming obsessed with stories of ancient rivalry and being a brave knight. He transforms his servant, Sancho Panza, into a trusty squire and off they go. Whilst proceeding to fight invisible rivals, puppets, and windmills, he also imagines that he sets out to rescue the lady of his dreams, named Dulcinea.
Aceitunas Mixtas (V) Marinated large olives with herbs
In Barcelona we had delicious pinchos; (literally pinchos translates to “thorn” or “spike”). Expensive, but well worth the novelty and feeling of travel. They were a great example of small taste explosion and the best tapas that we had tried, to date.
To right the unrightable wrong, To love pure and chaste from afar
To try when your arms are too weary, To reach the unreachable star
Tabla Castellana; Serrano ham, chorizo, salsichon, Manchego cheese
Disclaimer: We were invited guests of La Mancha, but my (many) opinions are only ever my own, and I would never recommend anywhere that I wouldn’t happily visit, and revisit on my own dime.
Pimientos De Padron (V) Sweet hot peppers from Galicia, sautéed in olive oil
Thankfully, the team at La Mancha in Chiswick aren’t tilting at windmills. (Oh yes, I just went there in a restaurant review, mashing up classic literary references.)
Calamares Fritos Quick fried squids with tartar sauce
If I were you? Go to Chiswick, take a good group of friends (in my case the lovely Sarah accompanied me, and better company I couldn’t wish for), order a few plates of Berejenas Fritas, Crispy aubergines with honey and romesco sauce perfect to start you off, with a few glasses of vino from their excellent selection and a lot of laughter. In fact I would be tempted to just sit at the bar and order these all night. But then that’s not really a balanced diet now is it?
Berejenas Fritas ( V ) Crispy aubergines with honey and Romesco sauce
Then I would order the deliciously piquant Pimientos De Padron, Sweet hot peppers from Galicia, sautéed in olive oil; beautifully light & light Tortilla Espanola, Spanish omelette (potatoes, onions, eggs); the surprisingly delicious Croquetas es Spinacas, Spinach croquettes with a hint of pinenuts, and something meaty to round out the tapas feast before you.
We loved the variety of dishes we tried, including a lovely seafood paella and hearty portion of roasted suckling pig, by which point we had all eaten so much our stomachs were beginning to groan.
I’m so indecisive (I often order two starters rather than a main) so a tableau of tapas is the perfect vehicle for sharing
nicking many tasty titbits.
And I know if I’ll only be true to this glorious quest
That my heart will lie peaceful and calm when I’m laid to my rest
TARTA DE SANTIAGO A traditional Santiago de Compostela almond cake, Amaretto, vanilla ice cream
True to the cause, we ended our evening properly with their heavenly almond cake with vanilla cream, the crowning glory of our meal. It was an almost a polenta style cake, punctuated with a caramel syrup, followed with a heavenly dessert wine.
And the world will be better for this, That one man scorned and covered with scars
Still strove with his last ounce of courage, To reach the unreachable star.
The restaurant owner and staff are proud of their selections, and actually go out of their way to advise that the portions are fairly large, and unlike most tapas places where it’s sell, sell, sell, they tell restaurant goers it’s best to only order around 5 tapas for 2 people, or 1-2 tapas per person and a paella as main course.
The décor has a Don Quixote theme running proudly through it, is fresh, bold and fun. Glass of beautiful wine in hand, paella cooking and the sun shining over Chiswick High Street, you’d be forgiven for thinking that you were on the streets of Barcelona.
I plan to happily adopt La Mancha as my London corner of Spanish sunshine (sadly now it is closed).