Delectable tapas with a twist, the well-known Rico Libre restaurant has recently moved to Kanteen in the Custard Factory.
I was recently invited down to test the new Rico Libre specials menu and I can honestly say it was one of the most pleasurable meals I’ve eaten in a while. Rico Libre’s recent move to the Custard Factory will undoubtedly do them a huge favour as before, I felt the restaurant was in a remote location and a bit awkward to get to. Since reopening, everything from the wonderful service to the wide selection of piping hot dishes was a smash. If our last meal at Rico Libre was anything to go by, I wouldn’t really expect anything less. More people need to know about the move because the food is without a doubt some of the best tapas in Birmingham. We visited on a Wednesday night and were the first ones in.
The only problem (if you can call it that) with ordering tapas is that you never know how much will be enough. Do you order 3 dishes each? 4? 10? Thankfully the wonderful manager came over and gave us some guidance on their dishes. We were told that around 7 dishes was comfortable enough between 2 people and allows enough room at the end for pudding. Can’t say fairer than that can you. We went with his recommendations on this occasion but I’ve attached some photos of main menu and the specials board (which we mainly ordered from) regardless so you can see what they serve.
Pan de Ajo – Garlic Flatbread
The most important thing to note is that everything is cooked fresh to order and arrives at the table sporadically throughout the serving. I prefer this method as it means you can get excited about the next course en route, but that’s just the huge fatty in me. First to arrive at the table was Pan De Ajo (£3.50) which is toasted flatbread with garlic. It was piping hot, crispy around the edges and drizzled with chunks of garlic and herbs in the centre. It was enough for two people to share but I wanted more, I really loved their style of serving with a dipping pot on the side (might ask for another next time). A perfect way to kick off the meal.
Tempura Prawns & Calamares
A filling selection of both Tempura Prawns with Mixed Spice & Herb Tempura (£7.50) and Deep Fried Squid Rings (£6) arrived shortly after and it was satisfying to know they don’t skimp on portions. I absolutely love battered food, I can’t get enough of it lately which is a real bad thing but never mind. The calamares came with aioli dip which sealed the deal and the tempura prawns were delightfully crisp but tender on the inside. If you’re after some dishes with the perfect amount of crunch, but not too filling, these two are both winning options. I think the salad garnish minus the lemon is unnecessary but we ate it anyway.
Lamb Chops & Grilled Beef
We mixed our order with both fish and red meat dishes, the two most highly recommended being the Lamb Chops (£8.50) which are grilled with a white bean and pesto mint. The Grilled Beef (£8.50) is a top contender for bringing on a meat-induced coma and this comes atop a juicy 5 bean salad. Once again the portions are fairly big so there’s great value for your dosh. The chopped beef strip usually comes pink but we had to ask for it a little more well done for me this time round. Beautiful stuff.
Tortilla De Pasata & Spinach Catalana
The two non-meat dishes recommended were again, both beige, and oh-so-tasty. I really enjoyed having a selection of both carbs and meat which to be frank is my ultimate meal anyway. The tortilla (£7.50) is packed thick and comes in a round shape, with 3 squares of gooey brie on top. The Catalana (£7.50) is also christened with pine nuts, mixed herbs and spices. Amongst the sea of meat and beige, it was actually quite nice to have a bit of refreshing greenery too. When asked for feedback at the table I said a little pot of tomato and garlic sauce for each of these dishes would complete them – but that’s my personal preference as I like to dip my food. They were both equally tasty, reasonable in price and great as veggie options.
Rico Libre Desserts
With enough room left over to squeeze in a dessert, there are only 3 options on there which I personally prefer as you’re not completely overwhelmed by the end. We opted for the Mousse De Maracuya and Crema Catalana – both costing five golden coins each. The custard dessert was thick and creamy, similar to a crème brûlée. Topped with raspberry for that final taste of bitter sweetness, it was an ideal way to end the meal but I didn’t leave feeling full and sickly afterwards.
I think it’s important to mention that Rico Libre has been around for a while, but they don’t pretend to be something they’re not. It’s not pretentious food with a cocky persona and they serve honest portions concocted with care and precision. All of these dishes and more are available from 6PM after Kanteen has closed. To book a table, call: 0121 296 9994 or email the team: [email protected]. Tell them I sent you.
Kanteen Digbeth, Gibb Street, Birmingham B9 4AA
Please note, I was gifted this meal for two people in return for honest feedback. As ever, opinions and photos are my own.