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Like its siblings Salt Yard and Dehesa, this converted theatreland boozer has seduced readers with its ‘interesting' tapas and perfectly pitched Spanish/Italian wine list – including a cracking
selection of sherries. Expect impeccably sourced charcuterie and cheeses, alongside a regularly changing menu that might yield moreish Gorgonzola and date croquetas (creamy and crispy in equal
measure), char-grilled octopus on a chickpea fritter with vibrant mojo verde, ‘gooey-on-the-inside' tortilla and juicy pork belly on cannellini beans, plus specialities from the robata grill.
Friendly staff are ‘well-informed, helpful and keen to advise', while the buzzy interior boasts original features including theatrical front windows and a handsome Edwardian bar. The odd dissenter
bemoans small portions and rather over-complicated ideas, but most reckon that the Opera Tavern is well worth a repeat visit – especially if you go in a group.
For a long time, I've been excited to let myself explore the London food scene in terms of its basic foundations. What good is it if the fine-dining scene is spectacular but the street-food scene is uninspiring? After all, it's not like most of us can afford fine-dining experiences on a daily basis! I've always loved burgers and it is a meal pretty much everyone enjoys and loves so I thought it would make the best test of the culinary foundations of London.In the last few years, so many burger joints have popped up in London. They tend to be small in size, have a no-reservations policy and an indie vibe. I have tried to capture all sorts of atmospheres with the restaurants from the burgers made in the dingy corners of Soho to the more decadent burgers made in glamorous Mayfair. However, there are some fantastic burger joints that I didn't include on here such as that of Tommi's Burger Joint because I've already written a review.6. BAR BOULUD This was my second visit and fortunately, it was much better this time round! I think this was because I skipped all the fussy starters and desserts and went straight in for the BB which I didn't really get to try much of last time. This is probably the most decadent burger on the list as it is composed of froie gras, red wine braised short ribs and truffles. Firstly the burger when it arrived looked absolutely stunning and that made me very anxious to try it. It tasted great and it was very rich but there were a few things holding it back from culinary glory: the horseradish came off too strong and once paired with the richness of the froie gras and the short ribs actually masked the beefy flavours of the patty. To cut things short, there was too much going on! Sometimes, less is more or the ingredients have to be present in the right proportions. This concept is exemplified by the fantastic burgers I tasted later on.Even apart from the food, the restaurant ambience was quite dull so that didn't make things any better. The BB is the most expensive burger on the list (Â£20) and is also last on the list so I'm pretty sure price doesn't always correlate with quality.5. HONEST BURGERSSo we're back to my beloved Soho. This burger joint has been buzzing in the food blogosphere so I thought it was worth my time to give it a try. It's tucked away on a cute little road off Dean Street. As expected there was a queue due to the no-reservations policy so that ended up in a 5-10 minute wait. I was dining alone so I was pleased I was placed in one of the stools in the front of the restaurant with a bar-like counter to avoid any unwanted awkwardness. Anyway, I was given the menu and I decided to go for the special which was the BrewBurger. Unfortunately, it took AGES to get my order taken. The staff are very inattentive so I can't say the service was brilliant. However, the burger did come quite quickly so that was a plus. The burger was really good; strong beefy flavours and a strong BBQ presence. On the other hand, the bacon tasted weird at times but good at other times- I don't know why! It was a very wholesome and satisfying burger but I wouldn't say it blew my socks off. I think the main star of the dish was actually the side of rosemary fries which were crispy, perfectly seasoned and aromatic. Although it took me ages to get the bill due to the inattentive staff, the cost of the meal as displayed on the receipt brought a smile to my face!4. HAWKSMOOR I've been to Hawksmoor before and I was actually going to give it it's own separate review but the pictures I took didn't do the place justice (due to the poor lighting) so I decided not to go through with it. It's no secret that Hawksmoor serves one of the best steaks in London so they must know how to serve up a good old beef patty. It was quite an unexpected turn of events as I went to the Air Street branch and soon realised they didn't serve the Hawksmoor Burger. I was so desperate to try out this legendary dish that I went straight to the Seven Dials branch. Once again, I was seated at the bar counter but I was not alone as I was kept company by a very chatty bartender! I immediately ordered the Hawksmoor burger and it came quite quickly. It looked absolutely stunning and intimidating due to its sheer size. I strategically ate the burger by cutting it in half and so I could enjoy one halve without making too much of a mess. Well, that didn't work out! The extremely juicy and moist patty dripped its glorious beef juice on to the plate as I ate into the burger. The cheese was everywhere and it contributed to a deeper richness! I believe the nuggets of bone marrow really elevated the overall taste of the dish by enhancing the beefy-ness of the burger. It was simply amazing and brought to life by the basic ingredients within it. The beef patty was perfectly cooked, the bacon was salty and crispy, the tomatoes and pickles gave a nice sour citrusness. Lets not forget the triple-cooked chips that accompanied the burger which were also perfectly salted and crispy. This burger was basically the opposite of the BB; it was executed perfectly by the how well the little number of basic elements were cooked. 3. GOODMANIt was a tough call to rank Hawksmoor and Goodman next to each other but the basis on which I did that was very tiny. I had my burger at Goodman for the same reasons I had the burger at Hawksmoor. I just thought that an excellent steakhouse must be able to serve fantastic burgers... And I wasn't wrong!I came here for a quick shopping break which was convenient as it is nicely located on the quiet part of Maddox Street which is right off New Bond Street at one end and Regent Street on the other. Once I arrived, I was welcomed by the friendly staff and was immediately given a table by the window. I knew what I came here for so the waitress quickly took my order. The food took a bit of time but wasn't too long either. The wait resulted in mass salivation when the burger finally arrived. It looked amazing especially with the beautiful egg yolk sitting on top of the patty (the edge over the Hawksmoor burger). It was a very rich burger indeed! The juice from the patty, the cheese and the egg yolk were responsible for this. It was extremely tasty and moreish because of the nice subtle kick from the bacon and the fried onions. The chips however were quite average so I didn't even finish them. However, it's not hard to say this is one of the best burgers I have ever had in London. All the components of the dish just came together in perfect harmony. The ambience like Hawksmoor is very chilled and casual. The service was excellent so I'm definitely coming back!2. PATTY & BUNI've been here once before when it first opened. The burgers were absolutely amazing and I've been waiting for the right time to return so that I could share my experience with you guys. The restaurant is located on the ultimate alfresco-dining street of London - James Street. The street produces a very foodie vibe which infects the ambience of each restuarant within that area. Once again, the no-reservations policy is enforced at Patty & Bun so we had to wait a few minutes. MRG and Valers were once more joining me for this meal so I was quite excited. I absolutely love the atmosphere in this place; it's funky, exciting and animated. The interesting cardboard cut-outs on the wall as well as the loosely hung lamps on each table give the place a distinct character (not to mention the fantastic music selection). On to the food, we all opted for the Smokey Robinson burger which I believe I had last time. The burger arrived wrapped up in a basket which was very different compared to the other places on this list. I removed the wrapping and the pleasant steaming fumes were immediately released which just made me more anxious to bite into the burger. I tasted the burger and I was instantly taken away by the strong smoky flavour, the BEST BACON I have ever tasted as well as the thick juicy patty. If you come here, you must be prepared for continuous burger leakage; it is literally the most juicy burger I have ever had. The beef patty was grilled to medium-rare perfection so the moisture nicely complemented all other elements of the dish. The sides were also amazing! We ordered the crispy and tasty chips with the cold and refreshing coleslaw. A trip to the bathroom afterwards (essential) allowed me to discover more interesting designs of the restaurant such as the staircase graffiti. It's truly an amazing place and I must make myself more of a regular here!1. OPERA TAVERNIt's hard to accept that a Spanish tapas bar actually serves one of the best burgers in London but the No.1 place is truly deserved. It was actually quite a late-night venture here with MRG as we were both feeling spontaneous for a culinary adventure. Well, let's begin! The burgers were the third thing to arrive after we had started with fish dishes. To be honest, I wasn't expecting much from the Mini Iberico Pork and Froie gras burgers but my mind was blown once the food landed on my tongue. I can't explain the sheer joy that overcame me when I tasted it. I think I actually experienced what is the envy of all foodies - the sacred FOODGASM. I almost felt so happy in those few minutes I could actually cry. It was the heavenly combination of the porky tender patty, the rich froie gras, the crispy and salty fried onions topped off with a sweet kick from a relish of some sort. The ultimate combination of flavours left me in such a state of euphoria that I got depressed when I was about to finish the burger. Truly divine... Enough said. This understated dish must be tried by everyone who reads this post. Unfortunately, the restaurant was poorly lit so the picture provided below is actually the same burger made at the Salt Yard stand at Taste of London. Note that Opera Tavern and Salt Yard are part of the same restaurant group.
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Opera Tavern in Covent Garden, part of the Salt Yard Group. Straight to the point Tapas, lovely, great night, please go...
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My boyfriend and I are developing a few of our own Valentine's Day traditions. Firstly, we stopped celebrating it on Valentine's Day and instead do it the day before (or after) so that if we want to go to a restaurant we aren't forced into choosing from a special Valentine's Menu and the place isn't full of sickening couples. Secondly, we seem to end up at slightly weird places (last year - Naked Girls Reading, the year before, a war memorial). And thirdly, my boyfriend buys 'me' some chocolate from Paul A Young (which he gets to share of course).This year we took the day off and went for lunch at the Opera Tavern for the first part of our celebrations and then went to the Romantic Misadventures event in the evening (see next post about that).Opera Tavern is run by the same people who own Salt Yard (and Dehesa, and their new one Ember Yard). We'd been to Salt Yard for my birthday a few years ago and loved it so we thought we should try one of the other ones. Salt Yard is a basement restaurant, with a bar for drinking and charcuterie upstairs, whereas Opera Tavern has its bar on ground level and the restaurant upstairs. Which makes for quite a bright and airy room, not quite the romantic cavern we had imagined. The romance was dialled down another notch by the room being mainly occupied by parties of six or more, and so was rather boisterous. Oh well - our own folly for bucking the V-day trend.First things first - a portion of fluffy, chargrilled bread with a mild, light olive oil as lovely, and the bread was good enough on its own without the oil. Next up came the smoke haddock croquettes with saffron aioli. That aioli was not taking any prisoners with its full-on garlic taste. The haddock croquettes were creamy and fishy, but not overpoweringly so - very happy with those. One of the differences between Salt Yard and Opera Tavern is Opera Tavern's grilled selections, so we made sure to choose something from that section. While the food was lovely on the whole, it was probably the grilled dishes that weren't quite as fantastic as they might have been. We ordered a beef and beetroot and a lamb neck and pear skewer and while they were tasty, they weren't quite as juicy or moreish as I thought they might be. There wasn't as much pear on the lamb skewer as I'd hoped â I thought there would be chunks of it cooked on the skewer â and there could have been more of the pomegranate sticky sauce the beef came with.Another thing that marks out Opera Tavern from its sister restaurants is the focus on iberico pork, which they serve as a burger instead of just in jamon form. Taking advantage of this and the charcoal grill, we ordered the pork and fois gras burger. This didn't quite live up to its expectations on Stephen's behalf, but I really liked it. He thinks this is because I don't partake of the full joy a beef burger can give you but I thought the flavour was lovely, even if I was a little taken aback by the very pink middle at first. I liked the crispy onion and the sweet, charred bun, but must admit, didn't discern the fois gras making much of a difference to the porky taste. Stephen thought that it being served rare did its texture no favours and also lead to a lack of taste. I agree that I thought the firmer edges of the burger were the better parts.We then had a salad of ndjuja, honey parsnips and quail's eggs, and bavette with braised onions and trevise. The steak was my favourite dish - the bavette being incredibly tender and full of flavour and slow cooked onions pretty much always steal my heart. But the nduja salad put up a pretty good fight - the quail's eggs were perfectly cooked, the parsnips were sweet and the nduja was spicy, with some nice peppery and robust greens to make up the salad part. The spicy chorizo-like oil did a good job of making us feel like we weren't eating anything too healthy for our celebratory meal.The only real disappointment on the savoury front was the monkfish with orzo and mussels which had a sauce which was a little too bitter for both of our taste buds. Whether this was the sea purslane effect or the choricera pepper I don't know. We weren't sure if we really needed dessert but two interesting ones caught our eye and we caved. I had the rhubarb with italian meringue and shortbread while Stephen had the blood orange tart. By gum were they good. Mine was like eating a thick eton mess (but without berries for once) - the shortbread was sprinkled on top, pieces of stewed rhubarb were laden on top and there were lovely chewy bits to the meringue, as well as a sweet rhubarb sauce. Stephen's tart was just that, with a lovely blood orange marmalade and caremelised pistachios. I enjoyed my meal at Opera Tavern - the food was accomplished, interesting, and mostly tasty. Stephen had a couple of Alhambra beers with his meal, which he very much liked and I had a very tasty brindisi reserva - a full-bodied red. I think I preferred the cosy intimacy of Salt Yard but allow that it might be purely down to the time of day we visited. However, despite having a lovely lunch, if I would return to one it would be Salt Yard, and I would try one of the others in the group before going here again.
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Opera Tavern, Salt Yard and Dehesa are all sibling restaurants specialised in Italian and Spanish tapas. In between Covent Garden and Aldwych, Opera Tavern is the latest addition, where the specialty is Iberico pork and the different ways to serve it: rare, charcoal grilled and cured.Credit where credit is due – being just a step from all the main theatres, the location is perfect, and the work done on the facade and the dining room is very cosy chic...
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Thankfully there’s been a tapas renaissance of late. Brindisa, the marvellous Jose and Barrfina are all leading the way. Although, Opera Tavern could easily be a noteworthy trailblazer. Above the rest, Opera Tavern has a fantastic formula that makes it very appealing. The menu is refined and thankfully goes beyond the later ‘holy trinity’. You can dine like a king or as modestly as you like. Sit amongst the gaggle at the bar or sit snuggly amongst other dinners at the tables (much like its neighbour Mishkins, it is intimate on space). The wine list is broad and far from intimidating, with only three mentions of the damned Rioja. The staff are conscientious, efficient and will happily divulge their personal recommendations with confidence and vigour...
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Opera Tavern serves up tapas inspired dishes in the heart of Theatre Land. Opera Tavern at first does not look like a Tapas restaurant but instead like a typical public house...
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A trip to the El Bulli exhibition at Somerset House saw us stopping for lunch in Covent Garden at the Opera Tavern, a Spanish restaurant in the Salt Yard Group. Opera Tavern differs from the other restaurants in the group, Dehesa and Salt Yard, in having a charcoal grill and specialising in IbÃ©rico pork dishes as well as tapas.We started with 2 glasses of a pleasant Manzanilla Pasada, as my sum experience of sherry to date has been a sip of my nana's Bristol Cream and I wanted to try something proper as it was all the rage a while back.The first plate, some butternut squash and sage croquettes with a quince alioli was a perfect start to a meal, smoky, buttery and sweet, topped off with a great alioli and utterly delicious. Following this a hunk of roasted salt cod on a base of compressed and crispy black rice, with a tomato sauce and basil sauce around it. This was a lovely piece of fish, and the rice beneath gorgeous, crisp, sticky and unctuous perfectly matched with the tomato and basil. My wife's plate of courgette flowers stuffed with goats cheese was fabulous, the courgette flowers in a tempura batter and generously covered in honey, top class stuff. I tried the mini IbÃ©rico burger with foie gras, done on the charcoal, feted as one of the better burgers in London, and well, wow, a triumph of a burger and well worth at the top of any list. The burger was gorgeous, smoky and so juicy I left a pool on the plate as I bit into it, with fantastic onion rings and jam and brioche bun.The last dishes to appear were a plate of roasted cauliflower with cumin, pickled romanescu, raisins and pinenuts for my wife, a pleasant combination, with a nice mix of spice and sweet. I had a plate of IbÃ©rico presa, cooked medium rare on the grill, smoky and rich in flavour, and with a drop dead gorgeous sauce of shallots, capers and lemon, thick, sticky, sweet and tart. I have to say this was one of the best meat dishes I have ever had, astonishingly good, not just for the presa as the sauce was amazing.We then tried a plate of 3 Manchegos, with some melba toast and quince and walnut jam. I'm a big fan of Manchego and really enjoyed the one with rosemary. Pudding saw us indulge in a few puddings, the cold chocolate fondant with salt caramel, espresso ice cream and coffee crumb and a parfait of Turron, a Spanish nougat, with yoghurt ice cream and apricot sorbet. The chocolate dessert was lovely, rich and filled with an excellent salt and PX caramel, but the Turron parfait was the better of the two, a gorgeous combination with the sweet parfait, tart sorbet and an almost cheesy yoghurt accompanied by a crunchy bed of praline.The meal served as a reminder that I focus too much on certain types of restaurants, with the majority of my write ups being longer tasting menus and more formal dining, and that I need to spend some time trying some tapas and less formal places. The two IbÃ©rico pork dishes, the burger and presa, were as good as anything I've had before, stand out dishes that will see me return next time we're in the West End for certain. The bill came to Â£117 and included 2 sherries, 2 peach bellini's.Butternut squash and sage croquettes.Roasted salt cod.Courgette flowers stuffed with goats cheese.Mini IbÃ©rico pork and foie gras burger.Cauliflower.Grilled IbÃ©rico presa.Cold chocolate fondant.Turron parfait.Opera Tavern
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HomeI’m not sure why, but Spanish food is a cuisine I rarely indulge in. No particular reason I can think of; it just never seems to come up. A shame, because on the rare occasions I do eat it, it really makes me happy!Opera Tavern, owned as part of the Salt Yard group (all Spanish restaurants) is located in the heartland of the theatre district and serves up Spanish tapas with what I like to think of as a gastro-pub twist...
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Opera Tavern is by far my favourite restaurant in London. It's food lies in between great cuisine and indulgent sharing food. From it's marvellous mini burger, of ibérico pork and fois gras, to the incredible ibérico pressa. Yes, there is a theme in what they do well here, and it is the pork from the black footed acorn feed pigs. While, the other dishes are good these are definitely their speciality...
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