We'd meant to go for a pre-theatre dinner to Loch Fyne, but to my amazement it was fully booked on a Wednesday. So we crossed the road, rejected a touristy-looking Italian (as I've given up cheese for the month) and ended up here. Much has already been said of the name, so as my punning skills are hardly Olympic standard I think I'll just concentrate on the food. There are tapas, cold meat cuts, a large selection of Spanish cheese (d'oh), a few salads and paellas for those who are not keen on the whole sharing thing. The wine list rather alarmingly lists the numbers of a couple of dishes next to the wine they think goes with them. I say alarmingly because I couldn't possibly justify ordering a different bottle of wine for each couple of tapas plates. Luckily our bottle of Artesano (£17.40) semed to go with the whole lot, so we forgave them for not offering a white rioja.
Tapas-wise, I'll start with the good stuff. Chorizo (£4.95) packed a good punch of flavour, even if the portion seemed a bit stingy. The pimentos del padron (£4.75) heralded a large plate piled high with hot, cute little green peppers ("I could eat a whole plate of these," said the husband, and tried his best to.) The salad of tomatoes, onions and black olives had clean, fresh flavours to slice through the heavy food. In the pulpo a la gallega (£9.75), the octopus was tender and juicy, served in a generous (OK may be not so generous considering the price tag) pile on top of some potatoes. Sausages
Sitting firmly in the "average" league were the patatas bravas (£4.25) and tortilla (£4.50), though the former could have been more crispy. The croq de queso (£4.75) -- deep fried blue cheese balls cheese balls -- were not great and a bit synthetic tasting. (Hey come one, I can still taste other people cheese dishes in the name of accurate reviewing, right?). The two razor clams (navajas fritas £6.25) were quite unnecessarily deep-fried, and thus greasy and a bit rubbery.
They weren't nearly as bad as the stuffed muscles(tigres, £4.50). The mussel shells had been emptied, filled up with what claimed to be mussel mousse but tasted of creamy horribleness with a vague sea aura, covered with bread crumbs and then grilled. The result was quite revolting, and the overwhelming question was "why?".
Serves us right for ordering them though I suppose. The same couldn't be said for the pan con tomate (£2.50), which for me was the biggest disappointment. In Catalona we had lived off large slices of slightly toasted bread, which you then scratch with a raw garlic clove, then rub on raw tomato and finally sprinkle with olive oil. Oops' take though had transferred the dish into a tomato toastie with very little trace of garlic.
Of course the trouble with ending your review on the bad things is that it leaves a rather negative impression. Personally, I would not go out of my way to return, but the meal wasn't bad overall and with careful ordering this place makes a decent stand by for pre-theatre nosh.
Oops... Restaurante & Vinateria, 31 Catherine Street, Covent Garden, WC2B 5JS; Tel. 0207 836 3609; Tube: Covent Garden