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54 Lamb's Conduit Street
While the bar for London tapas has been mightily raised in recent years, it’s done nothing to dent the popularity of old-time stalwart Cigala. Wines built for long lingering lunches are a big reason for its success, with bags of choice on the Spanish-led list and the sort of kindly mark-ups that are never likely to go out of fashion. Gleaming linen and cream walls lighten up the corner site, while Jake Hodges’ kitchen dishes up reliable renditions of grilled sardines in garlic, parsley and lemon, Basque-style baked crab, or squid blasted furiously on the plancha with mojo verde and guindilla peppers. Regional hams and olives, paellas for two and a compact selection of mains (perhaps hake with prawns and cockles in green sauce) complete the menu, although there’s no sign of the titular langoustine. Functional service gets the food delivered, but you’ll be glad of straight-talking wine notes.
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Best in Bloomsbury
Best Spanish restaurants in London
SquareMeal 2 Stars
54 Lamb's Conduit Street
Russell Square Tube Station 442m
Holborn Tube Station 542m
The Cochrane Theatre 344m
Renoir Cinema 405m
Mon-Sun 12N-10.45pm (Sat-Sun 12.30pm- )
Food & Drink:
Rate & Review
Food + drink: 1
On Friday I had the worst meal I have ever had at a restaurant at Cigala. I have been there several time before and always enjoyed it but will never go back. The waiter as rude and surly. The food was disgusting. It arrived within four minutes of ordering it and even that wasn't long enough in the microwave to heat it up properly from yesterday – or before. The tortilla – a slimy grey mess – was probably the worst of the dishes, but it's hard to pick between that and the lukewarm, undercooked meatballs, anchovies curling up with brown edges and the shrivelled cod fritters. We arrived at seven and were looking forward to a glass of wine and some almonds before some leisurely tapas – instead we were finished by 7.40 having had everything dumped on the table at the same time, except for the wine which came much later. A truly horrid meal. Thank goodness for the lovely waiter and waitress at Strada in the Brunswick centre where we had a second meal to take the taste away!
Food + drink: 3
I sat down for lunch here and was handed a bit of paper with a list of every tapas dish ever created. Closer inspection revealed that this was in fact the menu; I counted over 40 dishes. Normally this is a reliable indication that nothing will be executed well and many things will have been in the fridge for far too long, but Cigala defied expectations. Deep fried things were crispy, garlicky things had a punch and fresh things weren't tired. It was a good lunch.
Service was pleasant but if there had been any more customers in the place they would have been in trouble; it was perhaps a third full and we still had to do a little waving to get attention. Plates weren't refreshed between courses and I had to ask to be served another drink; it was one of those occasions where I missed being up-sold. Nothing to warrant a complaint, but not top-notch.
Decor is nice and neutral with white paper tablecloths, big wine glasses and solid cutlery; something I sometimes yearn for in these days of reclaimed crockery, cloudy tumblers and mismatched knives and forks.
Stopped off here for a quick business lunch with one of my clients. Not sure why there are so many complaints about the service, thought it was perfectly fine. It was a lovely sunny day so we sat outside soaking up the atmosphere of Lamb Conduit's Street. We ordered a series of plates; Chicken Livers, Patas bravas, Cod croquettes, seranno ham, meat balls and many more. Some were better than others but on the whole not bad at all. Dishes range from 6 out of 10 to 7 out of 10. I would say the chef should pay more attention to seasoning and try tasting some of the dishes. A few such as the cod croquettes were pretty bland and underseasoned. This isn't one of those venues you come to treat yourself, it's more a quick and informal catch up place.
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