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The ‘gin tonic’ has become a Spanish national obsession, so what better way to start a visit to Arbina (tag line a ‘taste of Spain’) than with a balloon-glass of the stuff dotted with peppercorns? On the menu, mains such as ox cheeks and paella are supplemented by a tapas list replete with trusted staples: from albóndigas (meatballs), tortillas and broken eggs to fried Padrón peppers. We can wholeheartedly recommend the sizzling garlic prawns and the crisp, creamy jamón croquettes – a tapas essential done right. We weren’t struck on mushrooms with grilled honey alioli (less flavoursome than the description promises), but a real favourite was Galician-style sliced octopus: just the right degree of tenderness, with a hit of smoky hot paprika. There’s a warm, casual feel to the place – helped by wooden furniture, barrel tables and Spanish produce peppered about – and the unfashionable location, at the Warren Street end of Fitzrovia, adds a ‘hidden gem’ vibe. Having coveted our neighbour’s cheese and jamón boards, we’ll return when the sun shines to grab an outdoor table and watch the world go by. Bowl of gin in hand, of course.
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