“For me, taste and ease is sometimes more important than ‘authenticity’. I want to show you that Spanish food is not complex or difficult and can be cooked every night”. – Omar Allibhoy
That very paragraph in Chef Omar’s book – Tapas Revolution – is exactly the reason why I’ve been racing home from early work this week. I’ve been dying to try out just a few of his 120 recipes and they are yet to disappoint. 8 years ago, Omar took hold of the reigns of El Pirata Detapas, London and since then decided to open up his own chain restaurant Tapas Revolution to show people how easy it is to cook Spanish food. Tapas Revolution has finally come to Birmingham and people are in for a treat…
The restaurant has been number one on my list of places to try for a while. On arrival, the waiter somehow knew who I was, probably from the grin on my face. They were already expecting me, but the “Welcome Emma”, and straight away handing me a brown bag with Omar’s recipe book inside kind of won me over. It’s a shame Omar wasn’t in the restaurant cooking that night as it would have been lovely to put a name to a face, but the warm welcome certainly set the tone for the rest of the night.
A perfect way to start off a Spanish themed night is by ordering a glass of fresh sangria, so this is exactly what I did. Josh ordered an Estrella Galicia and we were quickly shown to our table, overlooking the station. Tapas Revolution are open from 7am on weekdays, serving a variety of chorizo, ham and egg breakfast options and are pushing the lunch time meal deals. A big thumbs up for the main menu which is easily split into nibbles, hams, meats, fish and vegetarian options; not forgetting that they also provide a ‘set meal deal’ option if you are sharing between two or more people. We were kindly offered a few starters to try, and originally we were only going to order six of the dishes, but somehow ended up ordering 8 (oh dear what a shame). Josh likes to believe he is bilingual and took a chance at ordering our food for us in Spanish:
Gambas al ajillo – Tiger prawns cooked in garlic and chilli oil
Huevos rotos – Baked chorizo sausage, potatoes and egg
Torreznos con mojo dulce – Crispy pork belly with sweet and spicy sauce
Pulpo a la Gallega – Steamed octopus with potatoes and pimentón paprika
Calamares fritos – Deep-fried squid with alioli
Patatas bravas – Deep-fried potatoes with spicy tomato sauce and alioli
Croquetas de bacalao – Deep-fried cod and bechamel croquettes served with alioli
Chorizo a la sidra – Spiced Asturian sausage roasted with cider
We practically blinked and our food was already being brought out to us. The service on the night was right on the mark and exceptionally speedy. I could see other people happily enjoying their tapas dishes, so this was a good sign. The octopus and chorizo were two of the first dishes out, and just a minute or so later, the rest of the food started arriving, piping hot to the table. If you ever visit here, you have to order the Chorizo a la sidra – as it was incredibly tender. For me personally, it was definitely was love at first bite.
The pork belly was no doubt the best part of the meal. It was delicately crispy yet tender and melted in the mouth. I was very tempted to order another plate for myself. Naturally, we always order Patatas Bravas and calamares when we order tapas as memories always flash back to the time we tried some in Barcelona.The food quickly disappeared from the table which which speaks volumes. I always try to be as quick as possible when taking photographs of food as I don’t like to appear rude at the table and it’d be a dear shame to let the food go cold. I do firmly believe that a tapas meal should never leave you feeling too full or bloated for a dessert, so naturally ordering one for afterwards is always the best option…
I was disappointed that they didn’t have any churros in stock as I had heard rave reviews from the London branch. With a little heads up from our waiter, we settled for trying out the Crema Catalana – a traditional Spanish custard made with vanilla, cinnamon and lemon which is served cold. Of course, we asked for two spoons. We arrived at Tapas Revolution for our meal at around 6:45pm and even though the restaurant was busy, were on our way out for drinks by 7:30pm. We were in no way rushed to eat our meals and we left our booth with two happy bellies. I do feel that Birmingham has now upped its game by bringing a new, highly recommended tapas restaurant to the town centre. I’ll be going back for round two by Christmas.
I’m yet to work my way around the food section, but I already feel that Tapas Revolution is one of the many highlights of Grand Central. The dishes are all reasonably priced and won’t break the bank. If you are thinking of going after work one night, it might be a sensible option to book a table in advance as I can image it getting quite busy towards Christmas. I would highly recommend the Torreznos con mojo dulce – crispy pork belly and Huevos rotos – chorizo as two main dishes, you won’t be disappointed. Also seeing as various staff members are Spanish, you could try ordering your mains in their mother tongue – they’ll appreciate it!
Disclosure: Tapas Revolution kindly gifted me the meal, drinks, dessert and Omar Allibhoy’s Tapas Recipe book. I have written a review on my own accord and my opinions are 100% honest and are my own.