Opera Tavern Covent Garden
My business partner has been at a conference at the Connaught Rooms and suggested we met up for a drink and a bite to eat on Saturday night. Finding somewhere reasonably priced, informal and not too packed on a Saturday night in December and where we didn’t need to book (as he didn’t know what time he’d be finished) was just a little challenging. I had in mind to visit the Opera Tavern for a while. It’s had mixed reviews, with some criticism of the pricing and the small portion size but with some real rave reports about the mini burger! So, I was rather pleased when we turned up at about 7.15pm and were seated pretty much immediately at the long bar.
Now, it was something of a challenge to decide what to eat! We ordered bread and olives to keep us going and a couple of bar snacks (an empanada for me and Iberico Pork and Foie Gras Terrine for him). And a bottle of Artesano, Bodegas Sueños, which was reasonable value at £24 a bottle.
Then decided on the dishes (well the first dishes!).
We shared the courgette flowers stuffed with goat’s cheese, crispy morsels with generous filling cream cheese and a honey drizzle.
My Hake with celeriac mash, caper beurre Noisette and Jamon was great. Pleasantly salty and tasty and to be honest, if I hadn’t been feeling greedy, enough!
Simon chose the Chargilled Venison Haunch with Chestnut Mash, Red Cabbage, Sprouts and Walnuts. Beautifully pink venison, spectacular tapas.
Our least favourite dish was from the Vegetable section of the menu. Since I don’t like poached egg, I suspect I spoilt the balance of the dish by not having egg with the slices of Jerusalem artichoke. But, for some reason neither of us really enjoyed the mix of Jerusalem artichoke, porcini mushroom, thyme and sherry caramel.
While we were busy eating, there was a great display of Jamon carving going on. You can order a plate of the Jamon Iberico de Bellota if you are feeling wealthy, but we were lucky enough to be given just a little to sample. I went to a Spanish ham carving lesson a few weeks ago courtesy of Cordoniu, so I was very conscious of what I was being given to taste, the really tender, sweet meat that only comes from Iberico acorn fed aged hams!
And, although we were not really hungry at this stage, we went on to order a couple more dishes. For me a Mini Iberico pork and foie gras burger, for Simon as recommended by the bar staff, the Grilled Iberico Pressa with capers shallots and lemon.
Our only disappointment with the savoury dishes was the egg and Jerusalem artichoke, which just didn’t work for us, though it looked beautiful!
And then, well…we had to have some desserts. My stewed quince with honeycomb ice cream was refreshing and beautifully balanced. The chocolate fondant with chestnut ice cream looked outstanding and was so good that I didn’t even get to taste!
All in we had a great evening, not least because of the friendly staff and great ambience. Our bill was around £134 for the two of us, but that included two bottles of wine and a small donation to Streetsmart, which Opera Tavern are supporting this Christmas.
23 Catherine St
0207 836 3680