I know the friendly matador has been out on the street inviting people in to this place since it was taken over earlier in the summer, but I've not yet been in. Anyone tried it out? Hear it's run by a couple from Valencia, but wondered what general thoughts were on it/the food/atmosphere, etc. Was thinking of meeting mates there later in the week. Worth a go?
I walked past it before it was open and they were still setting up the inside so popped into say hi. I then ate there a week or so after it opened because the person we met was very nice and seemed he have put a lot of effort in. Sadly the food is not. I would really like them to succeed given the effort they have put in as the place is lovely inside and adds a lot to that end of TBR.
We ordered some cured ham which seemed to be sliced with a blunt instrument so was not thin as it should be. And with very little taste. The house speciality was (on that day anyway) paella with squid and black ink. When he bought it out, he had such a proud look on his face so we pretended to really have liked it, which we didn't. Undercooked and tasteless.
Beer was nice though!
I almost thought twice about writing here as would really like him to succeed. May it was just early days and its improved. My wife and decided to give it another go but in few months time as we are suckers for the underdog.
Also, and this does not bother me at all, his grasp of English is basic at best.
Okay, so we went late last week. A mixed bag - nice, simple décor of the kind you'd expect to find in a no nonsense bar in Spain, with Spanish football on in the background on mute, hams hanging from the ceiling, sherry barrels for a couple of the tables, etc. I thought the food was good and generous - we had a plate of Spanish meats and cheese between two that could have fed four as a starter, then the Valencian paella for two, which was very good (my foodie friend pointed out it had the crust on the bottom that the Spanish love and fight over at the end of the meal). A nice man serving, very smiley and friendly, but - and here's the issue - it was comically bad service, to be honest. Almost in the realms of Fawlty Towers at points.
He was wandering into the kitchen to ask the owner who was busy cooking where everything was, whether he'd got the right bottle of wine, opening it in there, etc. so in all it took about 15 minutes from ordering the wine to having it in front of us - all when we were the only table in a really tiny place. He didn't really understand what we wanted to eat first and to follow. Saying which, I would emphasise they really were exceptionally friendly, very concerned we were happy with the food when it did arrive, and it filled up with a couple of quite big groups of Spaniards later on, which has to be a good sign.
In essence, a nice place where communication and customer service seem a bit of a challenge, which isn't the end of the world since everything is well meant and the food is good, but it is probably better to know that going in. I did really like it, and it certainly feels very authentic. I will give it another go, though given it's been open for some months I'm not sure those wrinkles are going to be ironed out. I think you just need to go in feeling quite patient - or with someone who speaks a bit of Spanish!