A bustling, low-key tapas bar a stone's throw from Borough Market, this recent arrival is going from strength to strength.
On the corner of the foodie heaven of Borough Market, Tapas Brindisa is one of the prime examples of South London's culinary renaissance. The restaurant expanded from a market stall and still has its jamoneria, or traditional ham carver, so that you can take a slice or two home with you. The wood panelling and concrete floor of the red and yellow walled room restaurant and bar (which used to be a potato warehouse) give the room a modern and informal energy.
Tapas Brindisa's no reservations policy causes some problems, with diners squeezed into every available seat - even the sills of the floor-to-ceiling windows - and the rest of the space is taken up with drinkers sipping sherry in the bar in the hope of scoring that elusive table. The proximity of the tables means this is not the place for a romantic tete-a-tete unless you are extremely open-minded about the possibility of the couple at the next table overhearing your sweet nothings.
Tapas Brindisa is one of the country's top importers of Spanish food, and when your meal arrives you'll realise why the place is so crowded. The menu, which doubles as a place mat, is divided into hot and cold tapas, with prices ranging from a few pounds for bread and olives, to the high teens for the speciality meats.
You'll find all the usual suspects - patatas bravas, grilled sardines, superb chorizo - but there are also some more off-the-wall dishes worth trying. The pimientos de padron - peppers fried in salt - are tangy, a platter of ham and sausage veers between the delicious and the ever so slightly greasy, and the black pudding with apple is a beautifully-textured surprise.
For cheese lovers, there are two special treats. The first are the potato croquettes, which ooze an unctuous cheese layer when bitten into, and the restaurant's stand-out dish - goat's cheese deep fried in blossom honey, the cloying creaminess of the cheese perfectly offset by the sweet and slightly smoky honey.
Wash the dishes down with a robust red wine from the shortish wine list. Or for the authentic Spanish experience, manzanilla sherry is available by the glass or bottle.
The Last Word
Granted, the Tapas Brindisa experience is informal but don't expect it to be cheap as you'll be hard pressed to stop yourself from ordering a second round of tapas.