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The successor to popular 2015 launch Lobos Borough, this restaurant and basement cocktail bar is on a mission to offer some of the best Spanish food around – and it succeeds. Eye-roll past the clunky buzzwords (‘bites of instincts’, anyone?) for classic tapas options, alongside meaty sharing platters and the odd deviation, such as Uruguayan picanha steak with baked bone marrow. The inviting interior glows under amber lights, with a ground floor of bar stools set beneath a snugger second room with an open kitchen. Basic and rickety furniture feels at odds with the prices being charged, but the kitchen readdresses the balance: our fragrant prawn croquetas (the filling changes daily) are attention-grabbingly delicious, with a strong balance of crisp and moist texture, while a large portion of grilled octopus legs arrives scattered with chorizo, its silky flesh encased in softly blackened skin. Spanish competition in the West End is fierce and Lobos occasionally misfires with so-so pan con tomate or an overly sweet cocktail, but it comes into its own with the meat selection. A platter of Ibérico pork, for example, presents various, delicately cooked cuts, well matched by a range of Spanish wines. The easy-going atmosphere is galvanised by a buzzing location and a classic pop soundtrack, making Lobos a likeable Soho addition.
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22 March 2017
There is no shortage of competition for tapas joints in London and far too often they fall down on offering indifferent fare that is a far cry from even the most basic establishment in Spain. Against this background, Lobos – Spanish for wolves – is an excellent addition to the London scene. The founders are ex-Brindisa (another rare example of good tapas execution) and having succeeded with their original Lobos venture in Borough Market, now comes their second in Soho. Everything works about this place. We were welcomed by the enthusiastic front of house (and one of the partners in the venture) and allowed to choose our table – a benefit of having arrived early when it was still quiet. Diners have the option of bar stools facing outwards from the restaurant (great for solo dining and Soho people-watching), small tables with high stools facing the bar area or more conventional seating at the back. We went for the middle option, but regardless of where one would have sat, the atmosphere was great: low-lighting and a top sound track, generally a good vibe to the whole place. Dishes start from the most basic (such as pan con tomate, at £3.50) and work up to the more pricey (the most expensive coming in at £32, for sirloin steak on the bone). They also range from the conventional through to the imaginative and it was undoubtedly in this latter category that the restaurant showed its true potential. Stand-out dishes – both in terms of presentation and taste – were the octopus leg with sweet potato and chorizo, and the Uruguayan picanha steak, served with baked bone marrow. In both cases, these were novel takes on more traditional offerings, delivered flawlessly. The texture of the bone marrow will endure for some time. A nod to Uruguay features not only in the food but also the wine, with several Tannats being on offer. This grape, originally from the south west of France finds its truest expression in Uruguay (a bit like Argentina with Malbec), and paired superbly with the food, the robustness of the drink being more than able to stand up to the fully flavoured dishes. Definitely worth a return visit.
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