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Review: Casa Brindisa at South Kensington

BY Boon Koh
Published 15 November 2010

I’ve always been a big fan of the Brindisa franchise in London, having bought ham countless times from their shop in Borough Market and dining at Tapas Brindisa after an afternoon of wandering around those railway arches.

I’ve also been to the Casa Brindisa a few times, which is a branch they’d opened in South Kensington. Its literally one of the only choices around South Ken if you don’t want some good food that isn’t way overpriced, chain, or touristy around that area. And in the past, it hasn’t disappointed me.

However, a recent trip to Casa Brindisa proved to be disappointing. It could have been because the menu hadn’t changed, which is always a shame as I feel that in order to attract a regular crowd, a restaurant really must update its menu so that its selection doesn’t become stale. Especially for a tapas bar like Brindisa, which prides itself on a step above other tapas bars in London.

On this fateful day, I was there with a group of 6 friends, and this really brought out a glaring limitation of Casa Brindisa. Having to order around 15 tapas dishes to share, we realised that the menu really is quite short, especially if one wanted to skip the cold cuts and cold appetisers, and counted all the bread options as one.

Order 15 tapas dishes did have its advantage though; it allowed me, for the first time, to deviate away from my usual dishes and try the full range of what Casa Brindisa had to offer, and i came away quite disappointed.

The dishes were very hit and miss. Padrón peppers with Maldón salt was so simple I stared at it for a while, but the flavours were extremely good, with the sweetness and slight tanginess of the peppers mixing well with the bits of salt crystals. Galician style octopus for me was the highlight dish of all of them, with the big chunks of octopus bursting with flavour. In fact, we liked it so much that we ordered it for a second time! Lamb chumps with new potatoes were decent. The lamb was well cooked, but the dish overall lacked a bit of seasoning and flavour.

However, these were balanced out by the dishes that disappointed. Prawns cooked with garlic, chilli and olive oil were just swimming in too much olive oil. The grilled pork with cabbage was likewise a disappointment, lacking any flavour at all, although the pork itself was tender and juicy. It looked, and tasted, like something that could have been served at a school lunch.

When the bill came the cloud that had already settled over our stomachs expanded to our wallets; in the past I really didn’t mind Casa Brindisa’s high prices as the food was top quality and every dish was tantalising, but today it felt like I was overpaying for many average tapas dishes. Casa Brindisa doesn’t come cheap – at between £8 and £12 per meat tapas dish – which is barely two mouthfuls.

I am hoping that Brindisa do brush up the standards at their South Kensington branch, as there is lots of stiff competition in London for Spanish tapas, and while Brindisa might have been one of the first to arrive on the London tapas scene, it could also be one of the first to depart.

Casa Brindisa – South Kensington
Address: 7-9 Exhibition Rd, London SW7 2HE
Booking Tel: 020 7590 0008
Website: www.brindisa.com/restaurants/casa-brindisa/

  • http://www.galicianrustic.com Mark Adkinson

    If you really wanted to try Galician tapas you should cometo Lugo (Galicia) where every drink gets a free hot tapa and normally a cold cut too. I have been here for thirty seven years and this is a gourmets paradise. Most of the tapas you have shown in the article I have never seen here so they aren’t very tipical.
    Basicaly Galician cooking doesn’t need elaboration as the raw materials are of such good quality that their flavours stand out on their own.

  • http://www,frugal-dougal.co.uk Jane Manby

    Wonderful post, Casa Brindisa is one of the places we eat when we visit the city. To us, being visitors from the sticks, we have always found the food very good. This could no doubt be just our provincialness so to speak. there were only two of us so the limited menu didn’t affect us. But maybe next time we will try somewhere else.