Opera Tavern – Review (Covent Garden London)

Opera Tavern  is a stunning two-storey restaurant and bar situated in the heart of theatre land, brought to us by the same team from Salt Yard and Dahesa. (Husband and wife Simon and Sanja Morris-Mullins). Formally an old London boozer that’s been transformed into something quite special. It has a casual walk-in bar as you walk-in (the place to be), that makes for a great atmosphere to dine in with its leather clad bar stools, non white table cloth seating, wooden floors. There is even a mini robata style grill for all to see where they make those dreamy Iberico sliders. The brief is simple – tapas inspired dishes heavily influenced by Spanish and Italian ingredients, that can accompanied by a robust selection of regional wines from the same countries. I’ve been fortunate to dine here a few times now and have walked away time and time again happy. Any blog post from Grubstance wouldn’t be the same without pictures and descriptions.. Enjoy!

IMG_6146

Gluttony was kicked off with the Morcilla Scotch egg (£5.50) from the bar snacks menu. The blood sausage is perfectly spiced, earthy and crumbly against the crunch of the bread crumb. The side of sweet jam cuts perfectly into the rich egg yolk. 

IMG_2238

The signature Ibérico pork burger (£7); a high quality piece of Ibérico pork with shaved foie gras, cooked to a super juicy medium rare, sandwiched between a sweet brioche bun, with melted aged manchego cheese, aioli, sweet onion jam and butterhead lettuce. It doesn’t stop there though as it’s all topped with red onion rings lightly coated in flour and crisped in oil. Every bite will send you into overdrive – this is pure unadulterated food therapy!

IMG_0535

IMG_3948

Chargrilled Octopus, Chickpea Fritter, Red Pepper and Mojo Verde (£9). Another successful dish and always features during my meals here – the octopus is perfectly tender with a meaty texture, smoky in flavour and the chickpea fritter has crisp exterior and soft, doughy interior.

IMG_5351

Chargrilled Venison Haunch with Celeriac and Hazelnut Dressing (£9). This dish I could have eaten again and again. The tender venison married well with the sweet the earthy celeriac and the texture came from the nuts.

IMG_5348

IMG_5349

Chargrilled and Marinated Tuna with Soft Boiled Egg Pomegranate and Caperberries (£9) was another gem to eat.

IMG_5333

Pan Seared Scallop with Butternut Squash Purée and Ibérico Manteca (£5 each). Again another successful dish and features frequently on the menu, I’m not all surprised as it’s wonderful.

IMG_5322

Padrón Peppers (£5) should also feature in any tapas meal and they’re done really well here. You will miss out if you don’t oder them.

IMG_2235

Grilled Brisket with Pomegranate Glaze, Watercress, Radish and Tropea Onion (£8). The beef was super flavourful, tender, smoky and sweet but was let down by a lack moisture. It reminded me of a good piece of beef jerky – in a good way of course!

IMG_9010

Confit of Old Spot Pork Belly with Rosemary Scented Cannellini Beans. (£9). I’m head scratching over this one, I’m a big believer in pork and the belly is one of my favourite cuts. Sure the crackling did exactly what he says on the tin but the meat was too dry and the dish lacked seasoning.

IMG_2255

IMG_2260

Spiced Lamb Rump with Ajo Blanco, Swiss Chard and Camone Tomatoes (£9). Ajo Blanco is a cold almond soup from Màlaga and Granada. I couldn’t fault the lamb, but somehow I wasn’t convinced by the Ajo Blanco. A Spanish grandma would probably disapprove and slap the chef for it. 

IMG_0544IMG_0543

Braised Oxtail with Bone Marrow, Truffle Mash and Parmesan Crumb (£8.5). You would be foolish not to order this, everything about it was just perfect. The oxtail, braised down well, was perfectly seasoned and the baked parmesan topping gave an umami explosion. Just writing about this is making me salivate!

IMG_3490

IMG_3491

Ibérico Presa with Chicken Jus, Capers, Shallots and Lemon (£10). This is the cut of meat attached to the shoulder and head of the loin. If all meat can taste like this, then the world would be a better place.

IMG_2264

Courgette Flower Stuffed with Goat’s Cheese and Drizzled with Honey. (£4.5 each). Ok no big description needed for this one, a classic and what isn’t there to like about the sharp tang of goats cheese against the sweetness of courgette and sweetened by honey?

IMG_6139

Affogato with PX and Raisin Ice Cream. (£6) is beautifully rich. PX stands for Pedro Ximénez and it’s a Spanish white grape with an intensely sweet flavour. It’s considered to be a desert sherry for those who don’t know.

IMG_5355

Apple and Dulche De Leche Cake (£6). I loved this desert, the cake was served warm and came with a light/fluffy texture and a wonderful crust.

IMG_5357

Walnut Tart with Basil Ice Cream and Poached Gariguette Strawberries. (£6). Drool, drool. drool when I write this! It’s a shame it’s not on the menu anymore as I discovered from a recent visit but let me tell you that it was one of the most delicious things I’ve eaten here. Warm buttery tart, not too sweet all balanced out by the aromatic sweetness of the strawberries and fragrant basil ice cream.

IMG_0546

Cold Chocolate Fondant with Salted PX Caramel and Espresso Ice Cream. (£6.50). This little gem features on the desert menu every time I attend. Quite rightly as it is that good, a sure fire classic with the super chocolatey, rich, thick fondant, crunch of the caramel and sweet-salty ice cream. If you’re a chocolate lover, you’ll revel eating this.

IMG_5356

The verdict;

The Damage: Expect to pay £50-£75 pounds per head with wine of the later if you’re a piggy.
The good: Great small plate concept, Ibèrico pork is shipped in from Spain, simple menu, great wine selection and the jewel amongst the 4 restaurants in the group.

The bad: They need to make a full size Ibèrico burger!
Rating: 4/5

http://www.operatavern.co.uk

23 Catherine St, London WC2B 5JS
020 7836 3680

Leave a Reply

avatar
  Subscribe  
Notify of