Peter Sanchez-Iglesias’s Bristol flagship Casamia was our UK Restaurant of the Year in 2018 but his new dining room on top of The Standard is closer in spirit to the chef’s Michelin-starred Spanish joint Paco Tapas, albeit dressed up in the rather wearying late 60s shtick of the rest of the hotel.
Take the red lift to The Standard’s tenth floor and you’ll find yourself in what looks like a designer tiki bar, complete with rattan ceiling, reggae soundtrack and tables topped with groovy red tiles. You half expect to stumble into a conversation pit (or the central fireplace) as you try to catch a glimpse of the majestic view of St Pancras – semi obscured by fringed blinds, presumably to prevent diners getting any ideas about checking into the rival Renaissance hotel within the station.
The menu is a blend of Sanchez-Iglesias’ Spanish heritage and influences picked up on his travels around Mexico. The Mexican element is most obvious in the aguachile, a central American version of ceviche in which raw seafood (octopus, prawns, crab) is ‘cooked’ in lime juice.
Otherwise, things start with a mix-and-match selection of individually priced para picar, including a single croquette spurting ham-studded béchamel, a deeply savoury manchego quesadilla and a pork taco filled with notably flavoursome meat topped with a frill of cracking.
To follow, XL langoustines deliver a forkful of sweet, garlicky flesh for £20 a pop; four red prawns for £18 – eaten whole, shell and all – give you more bang for your buck, but like everything here, could hardly be described as a bargain.
A leg of sucking pig, shredded at the table like a Latin equivalent of crispy duck (and with skin every bit as crispy) is served with a bowl of citrusy cooking juices for dipping. We preferred dunking the tender, delicate meat into the pungent alioli that came with a side order of triple-cooked potatoes which, strangely, were the only under-seasoned thing that we ate; almost everything else exhibited a too-enthusiastic hand with the salt cellar.
The most egregious instance, however, of masking the intrinsic quality of the ingredients is the Decimo tortilla. £45 buys you 25g of caviar (of unspecified provenance) to smear over a very good, runny-centred tortilla – already a sensation with the influencers of Instagram but tasting like a fishy omelette when all is said and done.
Over-salting aside, we didn’t think the portion sizes at Decimo justified the prices, but there’s a terrific buzz and energy to the room, service is slick and the friendly, chatty staff are delightful. If you’ve come in search of the view, the bar by the entrance has an unobscured vista of King’s Cross and the clocktower of St Pancras, as well as superb Margaritas. The best view, though, is from the semi-private dining room on the south side of the restaurant, which gives a totally unexpected panorama from the towers of the Square Mile over to the West End, Westminster and beyond – though not as far as Bristol.