This fairly new Spanish restaurant in Craighall Park is inspired by the movie of similar name, Vicky Cristina Barcelona. Whilst we have an abundance of Italian restaurants in Johannesburg, Spanish restaurants are few and far between. I love the concept of tapas and sharing food so I excitedly met up here with a dear friend who was visiting from London.
Décor furnishings of chandeliers, golden glass light fittings, red walls, portraits and mirrors make for an original set up. The layout of the restaurant felt disjointed as there is a big empty space when you enter, booths and TVs on the one half and normal table setup on the other.
I get that it is a bar and restaurant and hence that’s why the TVs are there. It does however spoil the intimate vibe and replaces it with a sports bar one. A combination of couches and tables could have worked better as the one half of the restaurant looks incomplete and uninviting. I am really obsessed with this light fitting though – how gorgeous!
We got complimentary olives and peppadews with a sprinkling of cheese as nibbles. This was a pleasant delicious change from the usual bread. Our waiter advised us that two tapas are enough for one person. The tapas are reasonably priced and would cost you less than eating meze at a Greek place.
There are over 20 different tapas to choose from, Spanish flatbreads (a Spanish type pizza) and a few steak/fish/duck/pork main meal options. This is a great choice for vegetarians as there is a wide variety of choice.
We chose the grilled lamb rib chops (pictured at the bottom – didn’t photograph well) for R69 because it came with sweet potato mash. The mash did not disappoint and was delicious but the lamb was basted in a strange sauce that we didn’t like.
The crispy crumbed haloumi garnished with beetroot chips and served with an aubergine dip costs R44. I found the haloumi to be bland possibly because it was crumbed and the dip bitter. The portions were generous but a grilled version would have tasted better.
The paella for R64 had prawns, calamari, chicken and mussels. The flavour of the paella was nice but the chicken was terribly foul and the rice was sticky and slightly hard.
The spicy lemon chicken with lemon, garlic, chilli and herbs for R44 was super lemony but not spicy at all. Props for the chilli and a delicious peppadew sauce served with the food.
For dessert it was an adventurous choice of hot spiced figs with almond nougat and ice cream for R44. I’m not a fan of the flavour of spiced figs and the almond nougat was a texture that didn’t work well with the dish.
I like the interesting choice of desserts which include a lavender creme brûlée, nut tartlets, orange meringue, chilli chocolate lava cake and a baked black cherry cheesecake.
Of course after having not seen each other for two years a few selfies were in order…
The food has potential to be good but each dish had a little something off with the flavour. My friend liked the haloumi and paella while I only thought the chicken was nice. I’m hoping it was an off day in the kitchen as the reviews on Zomato don’t look too bad. I want to go back on a weekend when there is live entertainment of flamenco dancers and a guitarist.
The Spanish flatbread, crispy calamari, crispy fishcakes, garlic prawns, chicken liver pate, duck samoosas and Spanish omelette with salmon are a few of the tapas I still want to try. We don’t have many Spanish inspired restaurants in Johannesburg – give this one a try for something unique and different even if only for a drink.
Ring: 011 325 1263
Hop: The Colony Shopping Centre, 345 Jan Smuts Avenue, Craighall Park
Paella & Tapas,