REVIEW: Fernandez & Wells, Lexington Street, Soho
So I have heard a lot about Fernandez and Wells, in the papers, online, word of mouth and was a about time I tried it. They have 4 different locations in London so it was a hard call on a Bank Holiday Monday as which to choose from. I ended up settling on the Lexington Street location, which sits on some lovely cobbled streets near the bustling Beak Street down the back roads of Soho (where they also have a another shop). From the outside its pretty inconspicuous, black, hand written chalk boards with the days specials and produce, and some large hams dangling from the ceiling in the window (hanging above people’s heads while they were eating) I opted not to sit there.
Apparently this place can get really busy so a bank holiday Monday seemed the right choice as we were able to get a seat. The decor inside is very rustic with lots of untreated looking wood, big rustic bowls on the counter, piles of delicious looking sandwiches and chalk boards adorning the walls with menus.
To categorize this place I would say it’s somewhat reminiscent of a wine/tapas bar with a European theme and strong focus on Spain/France. The wines seemed to be either French/Italian or Spanish. I had a great glass of this lovely soft and fruity Tempranillo at a very competitive Soho price of £3.75 a glass, very quaffable and was able to stand up against some of the rich food that was served and went great with the small plate of pasta and sundried tomatoes. This isn’t the sort of place you order a 3 course meal but lots of small dishes to share amongst friends. As F&W say ‘we like to keep things simple so the offering here revolves around our core products; roasted and cured meats, cheese, bread and wine’.
I’ve been to a few tapas bars in London and spent a few holidays in Spain, notably Jerez, where there are some exceptional cuts of Jamón, rich Smokey Chorizo and delicious stews. It’s always been hard to compare. But this visit to F&W was the first (and of many more to come) where I have had seriously good meats outside of Spain and in London.
Most notably was the Morcilla, it was delicious, delicately spiced and not to overpowering with a lovely soft texture and crisp outside which I spread across the oil toasted bread. The best Morcilla I have ever had, either my palette is truly great, or I just need to get out more…
The plate of Manchego, Chorizo and bread is to die for. The chorizo is stunning, well spiced and a touch of heat and not too fatty. The Manchego, which not too soft, a nice bit of age and has a good power I like the fact it’s not overly creamy as you get in some of the supermarket ones these days.
Unfortunately I don’t have a photo but the 36 month cured Jamón Ibérico de Bellota (though you may be able to see it in the background of the photo above). It was such good quality (for London) and melted away in my mouth.
Accompanying all of this was a bowl of Padrón Peppers, which if you have not had before are delicious! Little peppers which are not hot, or have a small kick to them. It’s a great bar game in Spain as they say 1 in 10 are hot, and I mean really hot! These were grilled to perfection with a good covering of sea salt and drizzle of olive oil, and thankfully no hot ones!
All in all this is so far my favourite wine/tapas bar, based on what I have tried so far. A limited, very simple menu, but great quality ingredients are what makes this place. I would love to know where they source their produce from, hint hint F&W.