Wednesday, 5 December 2012

A little taste of Spain in the City

The festive season is almost upon us – so almost upon us, indeed, that the festive eating began yesterday, being entertained at Eyre Brothers in the City of London.

A very pleasant venue – which wasn’t there when I actually worked in the vicinity, but that’s beginning to seem like a very long time ago now – Eyre Brothers is dedicated to Spanish cuisine, but not, as is so trendy these days, just tapas.

As we nibbled olives and bread rolls, I ordered Brandada de bacalao (pictured left), which came with a soft-boiled egg, pimientos de piquillo, olives, capers and grilled bread, to start.

Brandade is an emulsion of salt cod and olive oil that’s also familiar in France as Brandade de Morue.

The only time I’ve eaten it previously was in a poor, touristy place in Paris, where it was only memorable for a bone piercing the roof of my mouth.

There was a single bone here too, but it was fished out in time. Otherwise, this was light and airy and a very soothing taste and texture.

The red pepper, olives and capers added a real burst of gutsy flavour and colour, while the thick piece of chargrilled bread brought texture, and the egg – cooked to perfection, with the yolk just running – seemed to bring the diner full circle to smooth, soothingness once more.

This really was a delightful and very satisfying dish.

Next up was roast Barbary duck with savoy cabbage, chesnuts and smoked pancetta.

It didn’t exactly bode well. Like an echo of last year’s pheasant at Blacks, was a leg and thigh, served in one piece, atop the cabbage mix, in a bowl.

That makes it difficult to cut – and indeed, sharper knives would also have helped.

Confit leg would work nicely like this – where the meat flaked easily away from the bone – but this was harder work although, once I managed to get to the thickest, brownest meat, it was tasty.

And the cabbage, chestnuts and bacon was very pleasant indeed, although the cabbage could possibly have been cooked a tad less.

Side dishes included broccoli – but I’m afraid that was taking the old al dente thing to the extreme of near rawness.

To finish, I opted for dulce de leche ice cream, which was pleasant and light.

Since the entire company was eating dark meat/game, we opted for a 2010 Quinta dos Roques from Portugal, which was bold and fruity and very enjoyable.

The fellow diner who also had duck was of the same opinion as me. But those who had the lamb said that it was excellent – and it certainly looked so.

It was good to see an eatery that hadn’t gone all insanely festive with the menu as soon as Advent had dawned, but was sticking with what it does normally.

Service was friendly and very pleasantly unrushed.

For all the small qualms, I’d be happy to eat at Eyre Brothers again.

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