The Tapa Room is a wholehearted exploration into the culinary world of the Pacific Rim via a detour of prime British, European and Southeast Asian ingredients.
On the gastronomic plain of Marylebone High Street, where many hunt for their elusive truffle of a table on a Saturday afternoon, there will invariably be a queue for the downstairs Tapa Room outside its modest doorway - and deservedly so. The wine, tapas and breakfast bar is earthy and dangerously alluring. With many small tables sociably close together, opposite exciting works of Aboriginal-style art, this place has an energetic enthusiasm that contrasts with The Providores - the white fine dining room upstairs.
You can’t book the Tapa Room – this is a casual and fast-paced place. Once in, you will enjoy a sense of achievement and then congratulate yourself for pushing your own food boundaries just by ordering the cheese plate. The whole place throbs passionately with Antipodean vigour, including the staff who are as excited about the victuals as they are about serving you. Whether here for breakfast, coffee, dinner or drinks, you will always receive first class attention.
A Tapa cloth is used in the Pacific for celebratory feasts and it’s an apt icon, as the Tapa Room is a celebration of flavour. The first impression can be mild panic at the menu options presented, as the flavours in each dish seem so disparate. However, a brilliant way to ease yourself in is with the chorizo and meats of the tapa plate. The maximisation of complementary flavours reaches out to all tastes and the deep fried organic egg is the perfect instance of that – a spherical ball of white and yolk served with lime juice, chillis, coriander, mint and crispy shallots. Curious green flying fish roe is an innocent garnish until the roe pops in your mouth and you’re struck by the subtle flavour of wasabi. Throughout the meal you never lose that how do they do that? sense of wonder.
The cocktail list is equally as intrepid as the food, with extraordinary ingredients creeping into the programme of drinks to create absolute showstoppers. The cucumber and shiso mojito is refreshing and delicious. The restaurant also boasts what seems to be London’s largest selection of premium New Zealand wines; the choice is immense. They also do house European wines, mischievously labelled Other World Wines.
The Last Word
Zinging with intelligent food, so exploratory that there’s the sense that executive chef Peter Gordon has been foraging wildlife for your benefit, the Tapa Room exudes that winning quality of artless style. Pushing the boundaries of the way we eat, it is as though the boldest flavours have been chosen from each continent and fashioned anew.