Smoking Hot: Morada Brindisa Asador Arrives In Soho
Londonist Rating: ★★★★☆
In London the word Brindisa is synonymous with excellent Spanish food. After all, the company pretty much introduced it to us when it started importing ingredients from Spain back in 1988 — well before EasyJet existed to whisk us away to Barcelona for a long weekend.
Alongside a thriving wholesale business and its flagship Borough Market shop, Brindisa now runs tapas bars in London Bridge and Soho, a deli in Brixton and restaurants Casa Brindisa and Tramontana Brindisa in South Kensington and Shoreditch respectively.
Anyone familiar with the food at these establishments will understand the significance when we say that the latest addition to the pack — Morada Brindisa Asador, on Soho’s Rupert Street — is the best yet.
The name signals its style — morada roughly translates as home, and assador means grill. This is a relaxed restaurant where the cooking is done mainly on a charcoal grill and in a Josper oven and the best seats are the counters by the open kitchen, allowing the same chefs who’ve grilled, carved and plated your dishes to hand them over, across counters flanked with legs of ham and bouquets of dried red chillies.
We don’t pay too much attention to the menu’s varying sections — charcoal grill, charcoal oven, stews and braises etc — simply choosing what takes our fancy and letting the clearly clued-up team bring the small plates to us in whatever order they see fit.
Coca bread (£3.50) is a delightfully rustic DIY pan con tomate, consisting of a hunk of grilled crusty bread along with a warmed tomato to rub on it, along with sea salt and some peppery olive oil. Skewered chorizo fritters (£4.50) look a little like lollipops and have a puffy, slightly sweet batter on them that brings to mind doughnuts or banana fritters — they’re incredibly moreish.
Cantabrian anchovy fillets (£6.50) are salty, sweet-fleshed and gently fishy, and a sharing plate of the ‘charcuterie of the day’ (£18) boasts deep-flavoured and melt-in-the-mouth meats of varying forms — from spicy chorizo to earthy salami with notes of truffle. Both dishes are a reminder of Brindisa’s roots as an importer and subsequent commitment to the crema de la crema of Spanish produce.
Such ingredients don’t come cheap, as is evidenced in a portion of secreto iberico priced at £8 per 100g — we pay over £30 for a portion, but it's enough for at least two to share alongside other dishes. The meat itself is somewhat legendary. It comes from between the shoulder blade and the loin of the highly prized Black Iberian pigs, and is incredibly tender while gaining a full flavour from the breed’s natural propensity to fat marbling. It is served here — as it is done best — quickly grilled on each side and still deep, daringly pink within, as you might a fillet steak.
It’s worth the price, and a house red — Tierra De Castilla Tempranillo, 2013 — that is richly fruity for £19 a bottle helps take the edge off.
Sherry, cava and Spanish craft beers bolster the drinks offering.
Brindisa might feel well within its comfort zone here, but it's boldly treading new ground. The low lighting and slick, sexy styling of Morada is far removed from its other simpler and more rustic-looking restaurants. Instead it recalls Salt Yard Group’s nearby Ember Yard — which also has a smoke-scented Hispanic menu — and the bustling open kitchen and counter dining of The Palomar just a couple of doors down. This is Brindisa at its most progressive, proving that some 27 years after it first got us hooked on chorizo and manchego it is still ahead of the curve on the Spanish food scene.
Impressive, yes. But not nearly as ambitious as another project it has on the go. Later this month the London firm will open La Volta Brindisa Bar Restaurante somewhere that it will be scrutinised by much tougher critics than us — in Barcelona. We reckon it might go down quite well.
Morada Brindisa Asador is at 18-20 Rupert Street, W1D 6DE.
Last Updated 07 April 2015