While trends of burgers and weird concoctions like Bubbledogs may come and go in London, I’m fairly certain tapas will always be a trendy thing to eat. Fino is one such establishment which has every right to boast about its quality-focused modern Spanish tapas. There will always be new tapas-grazing grounds emerging in London — even Fino’s Soho sister, Barrafina, is trying to give it a run for its money — but Fino will always be a classic choice in my book.
What’s the big difference between Fino and Barrafina? You may have guessed it… bookings. Barrafina doesn’t take reservations but Fino does – hence it being the choice for my dinner catch up with an old friend. There is an inevitable queue at Barrafina due to its immense popularity and the end result of said wait is perching shoulder to shoulder on the barside seats as there are no tables in this restaurant. I’m sure the beast will have a lot to say about the dining experience when the opportunity to eat there presents itself.
Brothers Sam and Eddie Hart, who run both Barrafina and Fino, have a love of Spanish food that comes across clearly in the ingredients and the care taken in putting them together. Basically what I’m trying to say is that all of the food is simply amazing. The menu boasts classic Spanish dishes such as croquetas, jamón and fish cooked on the plancha grill and the famous simple tortilla which they just do so damn well. And of course, lovely olives.
The food at Fino is phenomenal (did I say that already?) – absolutely flavor packed and exquisite. My friend and I started with potato & chorizo chips (£3.20) which were amazing — fiery chorizo wrapped in crispy, hot golden potato – absolute potato perfection with a spicy kick. Equally as delicious pan con tomate (£2.50 per piece).
For ‘main meal’ tapas we ordered the fino sandwich (£6.80) which I still couldn’t tell you what was in it, except cheese (the beast does have a strong inclination to recognize cheeses), but it was crisp on the outside and gooey on the inside and sometimes that’s all that matters when it comes to eating a sandwich.
Deeply flavored home-style chickpeas cooked with spinach and smoked pancetta (£6.80)
Fennel, radish & pomegranate salad (£6.50)
Tuna tartare with guacamole which was the best tuna I have ever eaten in my life – perfectly complemented by the avocados as well. Those who are wary of the ‘tartare’ concept, try this dish and you will change your mind.
For dessert, the sugar cinnamon doughnuts with vanilla bean ice cream were decadent – the doughnuts were hot and fresh (had just been baked), and their pairing with the cool, creamy ice cream proved refreshing and sweet. Once again, perfectly complemented.
The ambiance of the restaurant is a bit strange– the basement room where we sat is extremely spacious but feels a bit too formal and business-like. This doesn’t hinder the enjoyment of the dining experience by any means, but the feel should be a bit more trendy rather than stiffly formal.
The service is very professional, again, perhaps a bit too formal and less familiar than it should be, although I suppose that’s part of the package. The all-Spanish wine list is very extensive as well and if I hadn’t spent £30 on food and a glass of their cheapest wine, I probably would have indulged a bit more on the alcohol.
A truly lovely restaurant with absolutely delicious food – you will not regret the high bill (and trust me, it will be high). Highly, high recommend.
33 Charlotte St London W1T 1RR
Tel: 020 7813 8010