Fino – Review (Fitzrovia) One door shuts many others open

I figured it to be a good way to end 2015’s postings on the defunct Fino which closed this year too. So the purpose of this write-up is 2 fold, to say goodbye to a staggeringly good restaurant and to pledge that it’s not really all that bad… Over the years I have lost count of how many quality nights I’ve had in Fino‘s windowless basement, a restaurant which opened in 2003 by Sam and Eddie Hart and of course a kitchen run by one of my favourite chefs in the capital Nieves Barragan Mohacho. Alas Fino closed their doors for one final time on Thursday the 11th of June 2015, I for one am a lucky diner to have experienced one last hoorah on the 3rd of June 2015 – it’s a bitter sweet story since Fino is no more as the Hart brothers endeavour to focus on projects such the relatively new Barrafina Drury Lane, (my review can be seen hereBarrafina Adalaide Street and long-standing acclaimed stable choices Barrafina Frith St and Quo Vadis. In my humble opinion though the experience, food, atmosphere, ingredients are better in the Barrafinas, that’s not to say that Fino’s quality was questionable though. Just like it’s siblings it offered modern takes on traditional tapas dishes.

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Pimientos de padron (£4.5). Sweet, smoky, salty – just all round delicious.

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Jamon de bellota 5 jotas (£18.80). Lot’s of layered flavour, nutty, sweet and complex.

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Pan con tomate (£2.8). Toasted bread rubbed with garlic, fresh sweet tomato pulp seasoned with olive oil and salt.  Simple, humble and so good.

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Crisp fried artichokes (£7.8). Nutty and fried so well, the centre was creamy and made even richer with the aioli. I’ll be asking Nieves for these next time I’m in the Barrafina!

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Queen scallop cerviche (£2.80 each). Brilliantly sweet little things, a bit steep for something that you could scoop whole with a tea spoon, but tasty nonetheless.

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Arroz negro (£9.8). Sticky and creamy like a paella – this cuttlefish with rice was full of intense umami flavour, so good we ordered 2. I will miss this dish very dearly!

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Heritage tomato salad (£6.80). A typically Spanish dish of a super sweet variety of tomato dressed well with crushed olives and slices of onion. Fantastic.

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Crispy pork belly (£12.80). So good I order it every time it features on the menu. ‘The taste was unreal, the delicate interplay with the moist flesh, fat and crispy skin was conducive of perfectly timed cooking.’ I borrowed the same words from my posting of Barrafina Drury Lane as I wanted to let you know that an almost identical dish is available there so don’t fret! The full review can be see here.

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Chorizo & aioli tortilla (£8.60). A staple must have when you eat in one of the Barrafina’s. Cooked in their own miniature pans with a perfect exterior containing all of that molten egg goodness. It’s seasoned on the heavier side but with the size it’s not offensive.

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Classic tortilla (£6.80). More molten egg goodness with thinly sliced potatoes and caramelised onions. It’s a classic case of minimal ingredients and maximum flavour.

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Braised oxtail and fresh peas (£14.50). Butter rich fresh peas with a spoon tender piece of oxtail? A total no brainer order and anything from the cow slow cooked on the bone is conducive of robust flavour.

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Octopus & capers (£12.80). Cooked so well the tenderness dissolves on your tongue – it’s quite a meaty dish so the sharpness of the capers and smokiness of the paprika gives balance. And don’t worry it’s available in the Barrafina’s!

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The verdict:

The damage: Expect to pay £70-£80 per head with drinks
The good: We are fortunate that the dishes at Fino are very similar to those at Barrafina (try them out if you haven’t) with some nuances, so it not lost, however farewell Fino my dearly departed friend.
The bad: It’s defunct!
Rating: 4/5

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