Restaurant Review: Tapas Revolution Shoreditch

A surprising, vibrant and affordable addition to London’s tapas scene

Ok, I know. “Surprising” is not a word that people usually associate with a good date. In fact, I use it frequently when describing bad dates to friends the next day: “I’m surprised he tried to take me to that speakeasy when he didn’t know the password to get us in”, or “How could he be surprised that I didn’t want to go to a bar where his ex works?”

Tapas Revolution, however, is one of those rare good surprises, and I’ll tell you why.

As well as my usual first-date nerves, I was apprehensive about this Shoreditch restaurant, as its sister sites are in Bluewater and Westfields – places that genuinely make me question my sanity after an hour or two. I needn’t have worried, however. The restaurant is sleek, spacious and bright, with beautiful turquoise tiling and mirrored walls. The counter/bar, central to the restaurant, glitters with hanging wine glasses set against bronze and copper, and would be a perfect spot for pre-dinner drinks. Eager to taste the revolution, though, we headed straight for our table.

The Spanish chef behind the restaurant is the acclaimed Omar Alibhoy, trained by the legendary Ferran Adria of El Bulli. According to the website, his mission is “to put Tapas on the map in the UK”. Living in London, where we are fortunate enough to have restaurants, cafes, pop-ups and food trucks serving seemingly every cuisine from around the world, I’m not sure that ship hasn’t already sailed. However, I do think there is a revolution going on here: an affordable dining experience that doesn’t sacrifice quality.

The menu at Tapas Revolution includes a lot of traditional tapas dishes; melt-in-your-mouth, sweet and delicate Iberico hams (starting from £3.50), generous servings of patatas bravas (£3.75), and my personal favourite, croquetas. Opt for the croquetas de ceps y trufa (£5.50) instead of the traditional jamón variety, as the truffle makes the gooey bechamel sauce even more luxurious.

There were some unusual dishes that I have never seen on a tapas menu before, and would love to see more of. The atún con ajoblanco y vinagreta (£8.95) – tuna carpaccio with almond sauce and citrus vinaigrette – was cleverly constructed, beautifully presented and tasted exquisite. I'm not sure if it’s Spanish, but it’s so good that it doesn’t matter. The pan de la casa (£4.50) and pan con tomate (£2.95) were two simple, delicious breads that showed the team know what they’re doing with their ingredients: they were sun-soaked in oils and rubs (which the restaurant needs to start selling in jars) and kissed with garlic. After two portions, I still wasn’t ready to stop.

Omar’s Spanish mission is clear in the drinks menu as well, with wines and cava from across Spain, sangria, and beer served the Spanish way, in small glasses to keep it fresh. There’s also a selection of gin and tonics infused with herbs and fruit – I opted for the basil and rosemary, which arrived in an enviably large glass and would be a suitably refreshing drink for a warm summer evening.

Tapas Revolution is a great date location; the staff are friendly and helpful and encourage you to take your time and enjoy the experience, the service is prompt and the tapas itself is sincere Spanish cooking – so good you don’t really want to share it. Viva la revolución!

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