Dec 19 2013

Hispania

It was the 17th of December and I needed to book a table for lunch for myself and my friends for the 19th of December and needless to say there were too many Christmas lunches in the city that I could not find any restaurant that could accommodate us. I called 10 restaurants and all were full. Then my friend Cath suggested I go to Hispania, a new Spanish restaurant by the bank station. Luckily as it had recently opened I was able to get a table for lunch for 5 people during the busy Christmas period.
 
Hispania is located on the ground floor of the historical building of Lloyds Bank, which is a National Heritage site. The restaurant is huge (9000 square feet), the ceilings are high (8.5m), so you can tell this is a historical building. On the ground floor there is a more casual dining area where you can sit by the bar and get some food and there is also a Spanish food shop on one side where you can buy Jamon Iberico and other wonderful things. On the 2nd floor they have relaxing sofas as well more formal dining area on one side of the huge room. This is one of the biggest restaurants in London, and they say they are the “largest, most accomplished project devoted to Spanish gastronomy in Europe”. The restaurant was designed by Lorenzo Castillo (who is also an antique dealer), who apparently is one of the best Spanish interior designers, and in the restaurant he combines original elements of the building with Spanish features and materials, such as Andalusian floor tiles and the Macael and Marquina marbles.
 
Neftalí Cumplido is the head chef of Hispania (worked before at Iberica (MMMM), another great Spanish restaurant) and he has been influenced by the honorary chef Marcos Moran, a fifth-generation member chef of the Morán family, who also runs the kitchen of the 1 Michelin star restaurant Casa Gerardo, in Asturias (Spain). The menu created by them consists of soups & stews, rice (like paella and arroz negro that you need to have for a minimum 2 people), 7 main courses, some cured meats & cheese, salads and 22 tapas (tapas on average cost £9/ dish). We decided to have 11 tapas plus a plate of Jamon Iberico and a salad and then share everything among the five of us.
 
The Jamon Iberico was excellent. Truly delicious, like it should be. The other dish that I liked was the “patatas bravas” or fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce and alioli, sort of a very simple dish but the potatoes went super well with the two sauces. I also very much enjoyed a dish called “Secreto Iberico” that had Iberian special pork loin with apple puree. The pork was soft and tender and very tasty. Pan con tomate, or bread with tomatoes was also delicious, they had used artisan bread and topped it with tomatoes. Things that I thought were good, but very similar to how other restaurants do them, were the “padron peppers” or Sautéed green peppers with Maldon salt as well as “ham croquetas”. I like both dishes very much and always order them in a Spanish restaurant, so I am biased and will always like them, but it is pretty standard how Spanish restaurants do them, and they were good in Hispania, but nothing different from other restaurants. The dish that I thought was quite interesting was “Fritos de Merluza” or Fresh hake fritters with confit piquillo peppers, I don’t think I have had these sort of hake fritters before in a Spanish restaurant and I quite liked them.
 
There were also a few dishes that I did not like, like the Cantabrian anchovies with olive juice, anchovy butter & orange zest. It was beautiful how they were plated up on the plate, but they were awfully strong in flavour, and I could not really eat more than one. I also was not very keen on the dish “huevos rotos” which is Crushed fried eggs with hand-cut chips and “chistorra”. The egg was good but I had not read the menu properly and this dish came with chips not potatoes and I have had better versions of this dish with potatoes. Also the salad that we chose, Cantabrian salad, with Hearts of lettuce, roasted pepper, bonito & spring onion, was not amazing and the tuna in the salad seemed quite cheap and as if it had just been taken out of a can, I did very much like the rest of the salad though. Also I was not too keen on “calamares a la andaluza” or Fresh fried squid from Devon with a touch of lime zest and alioli, there was something sort of was missing there for me, and also “albondigas” or homemade meatballs with creamy mash potato were good not amazing.
 
Hispania has a great atmosphere and feel about it, I like the décor, the high ceilings, the sofas and the general feel about it, and I can see myself coming back to sit at the bar and have some Jamon Iberico. The tapas food I thought was good, but I actually think Iberica (MMMM) does slightly better Spanish food.
 
Date: 19/ 12/ 13
Location: City of London
Price for 5 people with some alcohol: £171.31

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Hispania
72-74 Lombard St EC3V 9AY
London
United Kingdom
GB
Hispania Reviewed by Hungry Bee Maija on . Rating: 3