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Friday
Nov102006

fino, london w1

fino.jpg

fino is a spanish restaurant that takes the tapas you may have encountered in other london spanish restaurants and elevates them to a superb, albeit pricey, level. the food at fino is simple but fabulously executed - every time i have visited it has made my toes curl with pleasure!

on monday i went for lunch with two friends so that we could take advantage of the “50% off the total food bill” offer that is currently offered via the toptable website.

the restaurant is downstairs and is a simple, modernly decorated space full of blonde wood, beige suede and cream walls. the bar is a nice space and arriving early enough to be able to sit here and have a drink is a nice way to start – there is a substantial sherry list that is worth exploring. the tables in the restaurant itself are a little closely spaced making the booths a perfect choice (they seat 4 comfortably).

we decided that indulgence was the best way forward and ordered nine (yes, nine!) tapas between us.

the pan con tomate (a traditional catalan dish of crisp toasted bread rubbed with garlic and tomato, drizzled with olive oil), potato and chorizo chips (pieces of chorizo wrapped in a thinly-cut piece of potato then deep-fried), crisp fried squid and diver caught scallops were first to arrive.

the scallops were particularly good - plump and flavoursome with a garlicky dressing, and a perfect match with the sweet spicy richness of the potato and chorizo chips.

crisp pork belly and chickpeas with chorizo and spinach followed. fino pork belly is the dish that persuaded me that pork doesn’t have to be dry and tasteless and made me want to cook it myself. the crackly was crisp and spicy (cumin and thyme) and the meat meltingly soft and full of flavour. the richness of the dish meant we were all reaching for the spinach and chickpeas to balance this.

foie gras with chili jam, milk-fed lamb cutlets (with garlic, parsley and thyme) and jerusalem artichokes were the last dishes to arrive. by this time were all starting to feel full so i don’t think we did them justice although all plates were cleared, bar one lonely lamb-cutlet!

after a short break, as we finished a lovely bottle of white wine (2005 basa, verdejo, viura, sauvignon, telmo rodriguez) we decided to finish with a sweet wine.

the 1971 don pedro ximenez gran reserva was a highlight of our visit (i had this last time i visited and details are still written in my diary as a prompt to try and source some to buy!). it’s a heavy sweet wine full of raisin, fig, prune and vanilla flavours and a superb alterative to a pudding.

although, having said that, i need to confess that we did share a “shot of white and dark chocolate” which was exactly what it says!

we had a superb meal with excellent service – sam and eddie hart, who own the restaurant, greeted and guided us through the menu and wine list. the bill was £115 including service (and a £50 discount for food) which, at under £40 a head for all that food and wine, was a real bargain!

fino restaurant and bar

33 charlotte street (entrance on rathbone street), london w1t 1rr

telephone: +44 (0)20 7813 8010

http://www.finorestaurant.com

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