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Don't expect hanging hams and faux-bodega kitsch at Fino – this Spanish stalwart staked its claim as a serious tapas enterprise long before the current crop of fashionable young pretenders arrived.
A well-groomed dining room reflects its sense of purpose with sober wood panelling and smart modern art, while the kitchen's preference is for clearly defined flavours: whet your appetite with
perfectly squidgy ham croquetas, before moving on to baby cuttlefish nuanced with romesco sauce or, perhaps, the signature crisp pork belly. There are also one or two more elaborate constructions
at play (octopus head with fennel tempura, for example), although it's hard to trump a straightforward tortilla with a deliciously runny centre. The food is supported by a carefully crafted,
reasonably priced list of all-Spanish wines. ‘One of London's little gems' insists a fan – although others have complained about high prices of late.
With nothing (not even sparklers) from outside Spain, Fino’s list makes a bold statement of confidence in the country’s versatility, which takes in cava, a multitude of sherries, and a great selection of still wines.
Tonight it was Fino, the older sister of Barrafina, now in its tenth year of service. It’s a much maturer restaurant, with an older more suited clientele. Tucked in a classily decorated basment just off Charlotte Street, this is all about starched napkins and a thick wine list, rather than stuffing food into your mouth with your fingers and sloshing down bottles of beer. The food is what does the talking though, and the dishes, just like the service, have been perfected over time, making it a consistently solid experience. There’s none of the experimentation you might find at other Spanish restuarants across London, just tried classics that are simply presented and taste great...
More from The Hungry Porker »
Fino situated on Charlotte Street presents London with the same quality, freshness and delight you would expect from dining in Castile–La Mancha itself, but with a modern twist and closer to home. Both Fino and Barrafina (the Soho sister restaurant) are run by brothers Sam and Eddie Hart with the former opening its doors in 2003 as one of the first restaurants in London to offer contemporary Spanish food. The kitchen is commandeered by Executive Head Chef Nieves Barragán Mohacho with roots in the Basque country, and the menu is fluid with seasonality dictating the provincial dishes that are made available. The focus on ingredients is centred around the best Spain has to offer alongside available local produce. Having been privy to nothing but glowing reports from friends and colleagues who have sampled it, I’m still trying to figure out why it’s taken me so long to visit. But visit I have, and visit I most certainly will again...
More from The Cutlery Chronicles »
And now, I’m going to do a version of the conveyor belt on the Generation Game. Remember that? You had to look at a whole list of items as they whooshed past you and then remember as many as you could so that you could take them home. My version is to try and remember as many of the dishes that I had at Fino this week, without resorting to looking at my photographs. What fun...
More from Saying it straight »
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