“Brindisa started as a Spanish food importer, which is how they get the amazing ingredients for their tapas bar at the Borough Market. Gwyneth says it’s one of the best meals in town right now*)
I may not always agree with Gwyneth Paltrow- but on this matter, she’s not far off.
Tapas Brindisa is the answer to many questions.
Where can I get a buzzy Spanish bite- that doesn’t involve a nightmarish cheap flight?
Where at Borough Market can I nurse a glass of pink wine or cava- that doesn’t come in a plastic cup?
Where can I source a proper platter of cured meat that will gift a trickle of spice and fat to my fingertips?
Where can I find a proper serving of pan con tomate- that sustainingly brilliant combination of char-grilled bread, garlic and obliterated tomatoes?
Where can I sit and snack on Gordal olives, Marcona almonds and blistered- padron peppers?
After more than 20 years of importing Spanish food into London, Tapas Brindisa has its hands on the good stuff.
The restaurant itself used to be a potato warehouse.
Within chucking distance of its wooden walls are London Bridge underground and the Brindisa store, where you can buy plenty of stellar Spanish produce (and one of their famous bbq chorizo rolls as well).
Back at the restaurant when the sun is shining there’s a good chance that every table inside the corner fronting large glass windows will be full of people picking at small plates and sipping Spanish wines.
You’ll find others standing in the open bar area and spilling out onto the foot path.
Sometimes you might be lucky and slide onto a stool and avoid the wait for a proper table (at night it can be up to two hours).
In recent memory it has played host to a solo working lunch, when I’d hit a wall. Frustrated with myself in the flat I stumbled down to the markets, then found myself sitting down to a glass of wine, some tomato bread and a sample of goat’s curd. The day got much better from there.
Back on New Year’s Eve The Hungry One and I folded ourselves into a shallow table by the front window. We trawled our way through a bottle of Maria Casonova cava, thinly carved steak with softened onions on toast, prawns bathed in oil and garlic and the turrón mousse with Pedro Ximenex sherry and macerated raisins. We toasted a good year and many more happy times to come.
And just last week it was where we met for an impromptu and early Thursday night dinner.
Their ham croquettes are the perfect combination of a crusty exterior and quiveringly rich cheesey centre. The aioli that accompanies the black rice with crispy squid has a solid kick of garlic. And if you’re feeling financially liquid, the freshly carved Jamon Iberico proves that acorn scoffing pigs are the the happiest of all.
For some people the fact that you can’t book, and the noise way the noise can ricochet may be frustrating. For us that’s half of the spontaneous fun of it all.
Turn up and take a chance. The only question that’s left, is what to order.
And I promise, if you find yourself eating any of the below, you’ll leave happy. Just ask Gwyneth.
18-20 Southwark St
Camberwell, London SE1 1TJ
020 7357 8880
Open Mon-Sat 9am-6pm