Saturday, 17 September 2011

Bar Pepito, King's Cross, London

When it opened a year or two ago Bar Pepito was London's first dedicated sherry bar. Any regular readers may have noticed that I'm a big fan of sherry. Given that fact, and Bar Pepito's location only two minutes walk from King's Cross station I'm surprised I haven't been there before.

Last night's premise was a simple one. How much sherry can we drink in a couple of hours before my train departs? The answer, rather predictably, was lots. We got lucky as a table was vacated just as we arrived, so we grabbed it quickly and ordered a half bottle of Lustau Puerto Fino. An excellent choice, it was dry and tangy with an almost meaty, savoury flavour. I'm not sure that really makes sense, but I know what I mean (can you get umami flavours in a wine?).

In addition to the extensive list of sherries there's also a short tapas menu. There's no kitchen to speak of, just a small assembly area at the end of the bar so we're talking meats, cheeses and the like rather than more complex cooked dishes. For more of a restaurant meal, neighbouring Camino (run by the same people) across the courtyard would be a good bet.

Gordal olives were sublime. Huge, meaty and intensely savoury. The only down side being that I could easily eat about twenty quid's worth.

Plates of lomo iberico and morcilla with romesco sauce. The lomo was disappointing as it lacked the depth of flavour you expect from any iberico pig product, but the morcilla was fantastic. Rich and irony, and a great match with the nutty, garlicky sauce. I'd have preferred it served in chunks rather than thinly sliced though.

Tortilla was the star of the show. Completely different to what I was expecting it arrived in a little glass with two teaspoons. Inside was a layer of the smoothest, creamiest, almost liquid egg mixture imaginable covering an equally smooth, buttery potato layer. It was topped with what I think were caramelised onions that added both savour and sweetness. Wonderful. I wish I knew how to make something so delicious with such basic, everyday ingredients.

Pan con tomate was nice enough, but a bit boring. This time the simplest of ingredients didn't really gel to create something special. There wasn't a great deal of flavour to the tomatoes.

After the food and the first bottle, we inadvertently ordered another bottle of the same. In hindsight that may not have been such a good idea, we should at least have tried something different. Still, it was bloody lovely.

I really enjoyed Bar Pepito. The bar itself is tiny and cave-like, and feels authentically Iberian. The pig leg sat on the bar helps with this! The food is what I'd describe as contemporary Spanish, with small portions beautifully presented and novel takes on the classics (that splendid tortilla). All of it was high quality, but I think I prefer the more traditional, rustic sort of tapas. For me, it was a little overpriced and not everything hit the spot flavour-wise (the lomo, the pan con tomate). Our bill came to £75 for two half bottles of sherry, two beers, the food and 10% service.

I'll definitely return, but will probably dine elsewhere and stick to sherry, olives and perhaps a tortilla here.


Varnishers Yard
The Regent Quarter
King's Cross
N1 9FD

Bar Pepito on Urbanspoon

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