A Google search of ‘Tapas Covent Garden’ highlighted a restaurant on Maiden Lane I’d not heard of before, “Sibarita”:http://sibaritalondon.com/. My friend agreed it sounded interesting and, as we were meeting after she’d finished work, didn’t book (although you can, which is good as so many of the new small, trendy tapas places have no-booking policies, which I hate).
The restaurant is very small with around 10 tables for two down one side and huge barrels and high stools opposite which are definitely not made for women of a certain age. I had the pick of the tables at 5.30pm and whilst waiting, perused the menus. The place gradually filled up and they started turning people away so I was pleased with my choice.
The wine is relatively expensive and although it starts at £17, by the time you’re on the fourth bottle on the list, you’ve suddenly shot up to £32 which was as far as we decided to go – rather than ending up at a whopping £542.
In contrast, the relatively short tapas menu is more reasonable with 3 cheeses for £11 or 5 for £14, charcuterie from £5 to £17 and other tapas, around the £5 to £7 mark.
We started with glasses of cava and padron peppers which were salty and perfectly charred before ordering chorizo, croquettes, pork belly and a fennel and pineapple salad. The thinly sliced chorizo arrived with sour-dough bread, pickled garlic cloves (surprisingly tasty) and caper berries. The croquettes were unusually round, but had a crunchy outside and a soft green-herby middle. The salad was the most disappointing item with what appeared to be tinned pineapple chunks and sliced, bland fennel but it looked pretty with edible purple pansy flowers. The four cubes of pork belly were tender and succulent and served in a wine bottle which had been cut in half length ways so that the meat sat in scrummy juices. When the waitress cleared the plates, we pointed to the bottle and said how much we liked it. She replied ‘it’s made downstairs’. We thought how innovative to have a small glass cutting workshop on site, until she went on to tell us it was marinated for 48 hours. We twigged she was talking about the pork, so we smiled sweetly and said nothing.
At 7.30pm the music ramped up and we were all for finishing the remains of our wine and leaving until a few minutes later, it returned to an acceptable level. So, after finishing our wine, we plumped for three cheeses with the waiter suggesting an accompanying sherry. As he’d recommended it, thought we’d give it a go and were expecting a glass of clear, pale dry liquid. Instead we got a glass of the most divine syrupy, sweet, tawny sherry which we discovered was called Pedro Ximenez. Unfortunately, there was a 20-minute wait before the cheese arrived and so sat on our hands to avoid knocking it back before the cheese, which paired well with the sherry. Because of the wait, the sherry was knocked off the bill and so we don’t know how much it was but I’ve since discovered “Sainsbury’s”:http://www.sainsburys.co.uk/webapp/wcs/stores/servlet/gb/groceries/sainsburys-12yr-old-sweet-pedro-ximenez–taste-the-difference-50cl?langId=44&storeId=10151&krypto=hv2h23txhy%2FBPFoMQb%2BVjBn7vu32c2LC1Ca6T4L9xZufX2%2FWGVhd9tZXrnlBWWaZ%2Bz3WWPT477BYr1BlZcTyIE1MR%2BVwId6IuD9MRZi01x%2FGyK4%2BgrS85cuw2A74GF3Q&ddkey=http%3Agb%2Fgroceries%2Fsainsburys-12yr-old-sweet-pedro-ximenez–taste-the-difference-50cl#BVRRWidgetID do a 50 cl bottle for £8 (and all the reviews say how good it is with Christmas pudding or if you’re making your own pudding or cake, steeping the fruit in it).
Having arrived at 5.30pm, we stumbled out at 9pm. On the train on the way home, I was reading the Evening Standard magazine and a review of Sibarita by Grace Dent, which explains why it was so popular – if you want to see how her review compares with mind read on “here.”:https://www.hot-dinners.com/Restaurant-Reviews/Soho-Fitzrovia-Covent-Garden/sibarita-london-wine-bar