Mar I Terra

14 Gambia Street , London, SE1 0XH

SquareMeal Review of Mar I Terra

Well-worn features and a faded green frontage testify to Mar I Terra’s longevity and enduring appeal – and it’s easy to see why people keep coming back to this thoroughly authentic tapas joint. There’s no doubting the excellence of the all-Spanish wine list or the punchy vigour of the nifty menu – try habas tiernas de Lodosa (baby broad beans sautéed with pata negra ham, mint, tomato and sofrito), higadillos de pollo (chicken livers with Cabernet Sauvignon vinegar on a bed of spinach) or garlicky sardines ‘a la plancha’. Food is available throughout the day, although it’s limited to cold deli plates during the afternoon – so draw up a perch at the bar (a relic from the building’s past life as a boozer) and conjure up some satisfaction from a glass of sherry plus a plate of exclusive jamón gran reserva.

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Nearby Tube/Rail Stations

Southwark Tube Station 202m

Waterloo East Station 245m

Address

Address: 14 Gambia Street , London SE1 0XH

Area: South Bank Borough etc

Opening times

Mon-Fri 12N-11pm, Sat 5.30pm-11pm

Nearby Landmarks

Union Theatre 65m

Jerwood Space 250m

Details

Telephone: 020 7928 7628

Website:

Cuisine: Spanish Tapas

Private Dining: 50

5.3

Food & Drink: 5.9

Service: 5.9

Atmosphere: 5.3

Value: 5.0

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Jonny Garrett bronze reviewer 19 April 2011

Tucked in a side street not far from the bustling South Bank, Mar I Terra is worth a visit simply for the peace and quiet. A sense of serenity pervades the whole restaurant – which isn't hard given it is the size of my front room. For this reason it is charming. We were greeted on entry by some very authentic looking nuns, and things just got quainter. You could reach out and touch just about every other table in the place, the waiter was moustached and paunchy, the food was delivered via a dumb waiter that must have been operated by hand, and the dishes were as rustic as any I have eaten in London. And they were glorious too. It is hard to amaze a diner with the basic Patatas Bravas, but the garish orange of the sauce and crispness of the potatoes drew me in, and gave me a benchmark against which all potato/tomato based dishes will now be judged. The octopus was another highlight, and the rest of the food passed in mist of war as my companions fought over the last of it. The blurriness perhaps helped by the excellent wine selection, which kept us entertained thoughout the meal. Eating at Mar I Terra is a jarringly intimate experience, but isn't that a refreshing change for London? I heartilty recommend it.

Food & Drink: 0.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 0.0

Value: 0.0

Dn C. 07 April 2011

The service it's quite awful, no one can't speak english and less recomend a good wine. The food it's “ok” but its quite expensive and sometimes the want to include in the bill things that you don't ordered. Also the manager behaves differently depending the social status of the customer… I don't recomend this place at all!

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 1.0

Atmosphere: 1.0

Value: 0.0

Charlotte C. 14 March 2011

This place has really gone down the pan. We used to come here when we lived close by a couple of years ago but when we dropped in recently we had a less than luke warm experience. The first thing that hits you is the smell of bleach.. well at least it must be clean. Staff didn't have a clue about the wine, even though it was Spanish wine and couldn't tell us what grape it was, but were pleasant enough when they weren't hovering over you waiting for you to finish and talking about you in Spanish! The food used to be some of the best tapas in London but now it's pretty average and seems like you're being served up luke warm left overs that have been sitting there all night. The patatas bravas was unlike anything you've ever seen or tasted before – potatoes covered in huge dollops of greasy orange mayo. God knows what it actually was… The cold garlic bread was inedible and burnt – how it can be both burnt and cold I don't know. The only edible thing we had was the gambas pil pil which were hot and sizzling when they came out which made up for tasteless tapas. We decided not to tip gratuity – afterall it is optional – which resulted in an agressive interrogation by the owner from behind the bar as to why we were not tipping before being asked to leave. We were ignored when we asked for our folded bike back which the owner had very begrudgingly stored away behind the bar area…in the end we had to ask one of the waiters to get it for us. A horrible restaurant with a very unpleasant owner. To be avoided!

Food & Drink: 1.0

Service: 2.0

Atmosphere: 2.0

Value: 1.0

Ashley W. 21 October 2010

I have just returned from a very unpleasant meal. Everything was swimming in oil, tortilla was cold and meatballs were rock hard. In my experience patatas bravas should have tomatoes on top of them and not a weird pink mayonnaise. Chicken dish and pea and ham dish were completely inedible. £15.00 for some slices of ham, that were not that pleasant. From when we were greeted with the overpowering smell of disinfectant to when we were weirdly asked to pay service in cash and the bill on card, the experience was bad. A massive waste of my Thursday lunch time and £84.00. I would most definitely not return to this restaurant.

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

Nigel C. 12 October 2010

My wife is spanish and having always seen this place from the train I wanted to try it. Great authentic people and dishes and wine. Fantastic to get the piementos d padron as a northern Spanish treat from our visits there. Lovingly prepared perfectly by the gallega chef. Nice to see the coruna beer estrella Galicia too- a perfect beer xxx

Food & Drink: 5.0

Service: 5.0

Atmosphere: 4.0

Value: 4.0

peas4me 18 October 2009

The tapas in Mar i Terra is the best I've had in London. Last night we had the padron peppers (why don't I see these elsewhere?) which were just perfect. Little green spicy peppers, grilled and sprinkled with rock salt: simply done, allowing for them to speak for themselves. We had the calamari, again, simply prepared and cooked to perfection, which so often is not the case. The patatas con bravas is quite different to that I've had elsewhere, crisply oven roasted (non soggy) and topped with a moreish, creamy spicy sauce made, I think, with smoked paprika. I've rather gone off olives, having had a few duff ones at various restaurants lately, but those in Mar i Terra are marinated in house, with fresh chilli and, I think, preserved lemons, and are really quite sublime. OK, I'm talking perhaps about some of the staples, but getting these right is a good sign. I'll definitely be going back to experiment more!

Food & Drink: 4.0

Service: 4.0

Atmosphere: 3.0

Value: 3.0

Junglefresh. gold reviewer 27 March 2009

One Criticism: the decent wines are EXPENSIVE, but at least they are available. Praise: great tapas, and decent atmosphere. This is a small and relatively noisy place, mainly because there are no soft furnishings and people seem to be enjoying themselves, which generates noise. The owner – or at least the person running the place – spoke faultless Spanish (and was English in origin); he clearly loved his subject (tapas/wine) and I think that's a plus. The olives were much better than standard olives, the jamon delicious, the fabada unctuous and rich but not “fatty”. The menu did not present unusual tapas – they were the conventional choices, but well executed and presented by young and committed staff. Great precursor to the rather disappointing Pitman Painters !