Tapas. Either you love the concept of small, sharing plates, or you hate it.
And if you’re anything like me, you often find yourself flicking through a menu thinking – ‘how badly would my dinner companion judge me for ordering more than one main course’ – then tapas is definitely for you. You can pretty much order anything off the menu with offending anyone with your greed.
Last weekend I found myself sitting in the Salt Yard waiting for Serena to join me for dinner, drooling over the menu whilst sipping on a white peach cocktail. Salt Yard is an award winning tapas bar and staple of Fitzrovia. The restaurant itself is spilt across two floors but both are on the small side, so reservations are essential.
The menu retains classic tapas dishes including Spanish omelette and patatas fritas, whilst offering some interesting new creations, like their stuffed courgette flower (but more of that later). Their menu is distinctly Spanish, yet there are noticeable Italian influences, such as the crab arancini or the occasional raviolis that appear on their special board.
The menu is spilt up into up categories of meat, fish and veg, so there’s something for even the most fussiest of eaters. I highly recommend you try at least two things under each category, but trust me you’ll need to save room for desert!
The smoked haddock croquetas with caper ailoi were the first thing to hit the table. They came in a neat row of four with a dollop of ailoi on top. To me, the perfect croquette is one that has a crisp coating and gives way to a creamy filling. And boy, these croquettes from the salt yard definitely lived up to my expectations. Once you’ve cut through the breadcrumb coating you’ll find a delicate smoky, fishy filing.
We kept with the fish theme as the next plate to arrive was the slow-cooked octopus, which was served with potatoes, capers and saffron aioli. Octopus has to be cooked just right otherwise it can be quite chewy, but the dish was so tender and it melted in the mouth. The capers were duly needed to help cut through the sweet taste of the dish and provided the perfect balance of flavours.
The highlight of the meal, and the one dish you must order, is the courgette flower stuffed with goats cheese which is served smothered in honey. The courgette flower itself contains a rich, salty, creamy cheese and is then covered in a light, crisp batter. It is served with lashings of honey which acts to contrast the flavours coming from the goats cheese. None of these ingredients however acts to overcome the flavour of the courgette itself, which is a rare delight.
We were recommended the dulce de leche mousse by our waitress, and my god, we were not disappointed. The plate was piled up with layers of mousse, chocolate wafers, slabs of honeycomb and mounds of salted chocolate sauce. You’ll struggle to get through it all by yourself as it’s incredibly rich and indulgent. It’s a chocolate lovers delight.
Salt Yard, 54 Goodge St, Fitzrovia, London W1T 4NA