For those of you food lovers out there whose holidays are planned around the glorious food and wine available across the world, then no doubt ‘Boqueria’ will mean something to you. Something delicious probably. La Boqueria Market ring any bells? Barcelona? Well it’s one of the biggest fresh produce markets in Europe, all under one roof, where mouth-watering fruit and veg are displayed like sweets, fresh fish glistens from having only just flopped out of the sea and traders, producers and hungry tourists roam looking for inspiration to whet their appetite. It is a mecca for those who eat breakfast whilst looking forward to lunch. It is my home away from home.
For those who have not ventured to Barcelona, fear not, for there is hope and it is in … *drum roll* … Brixton. Hang on don’t judge. In case you haven’t heard, it’s 2013 and apart from the occasional riot every few decades, we all love this Brixton. In fact I think you can even call yourself a ‘Brixtonite’ if you are lucky enough to hold resident in this oh-so-trendy part of London. Well done you.
The reason things are hottin’ up down south is the noticeable lack of chains. Thanks to a strong community presence on the high street and the infamous Electric Avenue Market, Brixton is a rare find, where local businesses are thriving. And Boqueria is flying the flag. A 15 minute stroll from the tube station and you’ll find the latest foodie kid on the block. Think Spain, think tapas; that’s exactly what this is and it’s pretty impressive when within a year of opening you’ve been awarded Time Out’s ‘best new cheap eats’ and the Good Food Guide Award for ‘independent restaurant of the year’.
After just one visit, it’s not hard to see why. The atmosphere is spot on thanks to the contemporary neutral décor, aged wooden floors, glossy bar, and impressive sleek dining area. The menu is by far the main attraction, with head chef Jose Luis Gil serving up some of the best tapas London has to offer.
A selection of Spanish cheeses, cured meats, warm breads and plump, sweet olives offer bountiful pickings to start; a good sign in my opinion when a kitchen nails even the simplest dishes. As with all good tapas bars in Spain, the food is served as and when each is cooked, so don’t expect them to all turn up at once. Instead order a glut of what tickles your taste buds and revel in the mini excitement at each new offering as it arrives.
There were too many delicious plates to mention, but the Canelones de berenjena (aubergine cannelloni with goats cheese and mushrooms) was good enough to turn even the most carnivorous eater to a vegetarian, and the Langostinos a la parrilla (griddled king prawns) with their succulent meat rendered me a happy mess, licking my fingers long after the waiter had taken away empty plates. An impressive cava and sherry menu make for tantalising aperitifs and the knowledgeable and friendly staff were on hand to offer insight into the best wine pairings to go alongside chosen dishes.
So if the miserable grey skies are getting you down, and a trip to Barcelona is out of the question, escape to Brixton with your amigos for a few hours of foodie sunshine and some authentic Spanish cuisine. No passport required.
Boqueria Tapas Bar
192 Acre Lane
Tel: 020 7733 4408