Little Galicia, a taste of Spain in Hackney:
Estrella Galicia is an older brewery based in A Coruna in the north-western part of Galicia, Spain. It’s unusual in that it’s been operating since 1906, and is still 100% family owned and run.
Estrella Galicia have teamed up with Omar Allibhoy, a rising star in the UK food scene, to pair their beer with Omar’s take on authentic Spanish street food. Omar has a strong background in food having worked for Ferran Adria at El Bulli, formally the number one restaurant in the world, before taking on El Pirata de Tapas in West London. Omar has since launched the Tapas Revolution group of tapas bars in three locations across London.
Joining forces with Netil 360, Omar has a 2 month residency at the rooftop bar, bringing amazing tapas, matched with several different beers from Estrella Galicia.
I should say now, to get it out of the way, that the weather conditions for the press launch could not have been worse! It’s very unfortunate really as it only went to show just how good the combination of talents assembled could have, and certainly will be! It was a bit like a Wimbledon final, you know it’s going to be great… but you have to accept the frustration thrown at you by the weather….. no one controls the weather! Anyway…. on to the food and drink!
Netil 360 sits atop a bland looking 1960’s office block, all very unassuming. You enter through a set of doors that lead you up the stairs to the roof, which comes as quite a surprise when you exit the stairwell onto it! It has been completely reworked into an Oasis of green Astroturf, hammocks, lounging areas, Hot tubs(yes really!) and occasional film screenings are laid on. Two sides have covered areas containing the bar, and seating areas, mains power for your tech-charging. A tented area has floor cushions to sprawl on, several telescopes are dotted around the perimeter, allowing you to zoom in on many of London’s landmarks. It reminded me of a number of British films and TV dramas where the villains or the heroes are up on a rooftop and are gazing out over our great cityscape…… but anyway, let’s not get too Lock Stock and Two Smoking eh?
First the beer. Estrella presented 3 beers. The first was the classic Estrella Galicia premium lager. A pilsner, pale gold, light and refreshing at 4.7% and very well balanced. You could drink this all day….. if you wanted to. Very well balanced, and a beer that many other manufacturers would love to be able to produce. The second was the 1906 Reserva Especial at 6.5% This is a darker beer with more roasted Hops, and a hoppier flavour. It was rich and full in flavour, and again very well balanced. The third was the beer I actually tried first, the 00. This is an alcohol free beer! Alcohol free beers used to be rubbish! But we are many years down the road now, and much progress has been made. I have to say, and I’m being utterly honest here…. this beer is probably one of the most convincing alcohol, free beers I’ve tried! Were I a nominated driver, or needed not to drink on a social outing…. knowing that the Estrella 00 was available, there wouldn’t be any hesitation.
The food: Accompanying the beer was of course created by Omar Allibhoy. We were offered empanadas, chorizo burgers and padron peppers and all were quite wonderful, and surprisingly filling! If I am able to point an accusing finger at tapas in general, well sometimes if can seem a bit mean in portion size, but not here. Often you need a few dishes of tapas, but the chorizo burger was a meal in itself.
We spoke to Omar, and he filled us in on a few aspects that had brought him to his current place in London’s gastro circuit. He initially came to London to learn new techniques and expand his repertoire, which clearly he did. But along the way he managed to fall in love and start a family and fell in love with London a little too. He decided to put down some roots and the result was Tapas Revolution. His inspiration was his mother’s cooking as a child. She indulged his interest and set him to work chopping and cooking in the family kitchen. Soon he was cooking well above that of a young teenager, and entered into the tough business of professional kitchen work as soon as he left school. Omar was similar to other very interesting chefs we’ve met before…. the passion for the food above all else is clear to see. There’s nothing wrong with having a good business head and making money, which is a necessary evil of course, but you have to have the passion! And Omar clearly does.
Our visit coincided with some of the worst weather we’ve seen for a while, but it was clear to us that when the weather plays ball(which it is of course now that I’m writing the review!) Little Galicia at Netil 360 will be a fantastic way to while away a few hours, good beer and good food, and a great location…. what more could you want!
Little Galicia is at Netil 360 from May the 6th until Friday the 3rd of July.
1 Westgate Street,
London E8 3RL