Authentic Tapas is hard to come by, especially in the centre of Birmingham. Since the opening of the Spanish & Mediterranean restaurant Amantia – a family-run business thriving on the idea of Spanish recipes – it has now put Brum on the map for delivering that unique family-fueled dining experience.
I have visited Amantia twice since its opening in March. Upon entering, you wouldn’t exactly know it was a Spanish restaurant. The setting is simplistic with a neutral grey setting and purple chairs. During my first experience, I noticed the walls were bare, giving the restaurant a very ‘clinical’ feel. In returning a few weeks later, I noticed they have started to build on interior, covering the walls in large pictures of flamenco dancers. Just don’t expect a stereotypical Spanish interior when visiting Amantia, but the food and service completely makes up for what you would expect from a high-quality tapas restaurant.
The place is family-orientated and the food strongly represents the owners heritage and background. Amantia serves a variety of Mediterranean beef, pork and chicken dishes as well as fish and seafood plates, but the main thrust focuses primary on tapas. Upon being asked to come back to sample a tasting menu, I jumped at the chance to try more variety of their dishes and we were offered a jug of their home-made Sangria on arrival. The manager, Marta, came over to greet us and joked that she has now given us our own special table, as we sat at the same table from our previous visit. The staff are incredibly friendly and will put you at ease. Upon arrival, Marta had kindly prepared a set menu for us.
One downside to the restaurant would be the quiet ambience whilst dining. There weren’t as many people in there as expected, especially for a Friday night. However, I am sure it will continue to pick up as more locals are made aware of its existence. The first dish bought to our table was the Calamares rebozados con Alioil – deep fried battered squid strips with homemade spanish garlic and olive oil dip. I’m always sceptical of calamari dishes as they have a tendancy to be rubbery, however the Amantia dish was beautiful executed, a light crispy batter which melted when dipped in the sauce and the squid was tender and succulent. For a dish that would cost just under £7 – you’d expect it to be easily edible.
Undoubtedly, the highlight of the evening was the Galican style Octopus, served on a bed of potatoes with oil and paprika. People moan that food should be served on plates, not chopping boards, however this thought was brushed aside I could have eaten a whole board to myself owing to the sharp flavours and crispy tentacles. Served with this were crunchy salted cod croquettes accompanied with a light dip. The two dishes together were a perfect combination and I would highly recommend the octopus.
For side dishes, we were asked if we would like try the crepes and we opted for the Mediterranea Smoked salmon, yoghurt, cucumber, garlic and dill. I’m used to eating crepes with something sweet inside, so having a fish filling was unusual for me. I wasn’t completely convinced on the texture, so I don’t think I would opt for this dish again. The bread which was served alongside was authentic home-made and had sweet and sour flavours. I’d encourage you to request some, accompanied with olives.
The tasting selection didn’t look entirely filling, but by the end of the meal I was pretty full. It’s scary how tapas can be so deceiving! There are a variety of tapas dishes which I would still like to try, two being the king prawn dish and monkfish. I feel like the portions are generous, a perfect amount for sharing with your other half, but dessert is usually needed to completely round off the meal.
As an extra surprise, we were actually given some of the fried pastry churros with hot chocolate sauce to try. Being a sweet-toothed person, I thoroughly enjoyed this as a dessert as it wasn’t exceptionally heavy, but I would point out that the chocolate sauce was quite rich in flavour, almost like eating spoonfuls of coco powder. Amantia sells a selection of ice creams and cakes for dessert, and advertise cheese boards with a sherry tipples for those who are not driving. To end off our night, we were given cups of deliciously-strong filter coffee to keep us awake after demolishing through our tasting menu.
Overall, I am very impressed with the high-quality service and deliverance of the food. I feel exceptionally lucky to have been invited to try a variety of their best-selling dishes. For anyone who hasn’t been yet, I would advise you to try one of the meat selections for starters, as I have seen many customers finish these with a huge smile of their face. A cheaper option would be to try the tapas dishes instead of main meals. Tapas starts from around £4.95 a dish and you certainly get what you pay for. Watch out for Amantia, the newest tapas bar which I will expect to go far. Full menu can be found
Please note, I was invited to Amantia to try some of their tapas and sangria. Amantia: 9-10 Bennetts Hill, Birmingham, B2 5RS.