Review: Tapas Bar Mas Q Menos’ First London Branch
Published 9 August 2014
MasQMenos, a famed Spanish casual eating chain with 25 outlets in Spain, has opened its first London branch in Holborn. Now, there is no shortage of Spanish restaurants and tapas bars in London, but Mas Q Menos brings across from Spain an authentic and more casual style of Spanish dining than that we have seen in London so far.
“MasQMenos” means “more than less” – more quality, more quantity and more value, with the letter Q being a well-known symbol for quality in Spain. The restaurant typically prides itself on offering a wide range of unique and specially made regional Spanish breads, hams, cheeses and salads, all accompanied by wine from a number of Spanish vineyards.
Existing Spanish restaurants in London are typically more geared towards dinner and for a big meal out. Mas Q Menos is trying to bring a lighter and more casual experience. Its menu is short on cooked dishes, and longer on sandwiches, salads, and plates of great hams, cheeses, and cold tapas.
Although I went for dinner at Mas Q Menos, I think it is much better suited for a lunch or light dinner with drinks. The casual but quiet ambience is suited for leisurely conversation over (many) glasses of wine!
There are lots of sandwiches on the menu, including a whole page with the unique pan de coca (a flatbread made with olive oil). We ended up ordering a selection of sandwiches, salads, and a ham platter to share between the two of us:
Tuna belly and tomato salad
White asparagus and ham salad
Superior Ham selection plate
Veal & tomato on bread
Blood orange sorbet
The first thing that you notice is that all the ingredients are incredibly fresh. The tomatoes were brilliantly juicy and flavourful. The white asparagus in the salad was succulent, although cooked for too long and thus mushy in texture.
The hams were of high quality – not too salty, with a hint of sweetness. The tuna belly in the salad, however, was way over-salted.
Prices were very reasonable for the portions you get. If I worked or lived in the Holborn area, I would definitely be getting take-outs to eat back in the office or for a light dinner. The concept is great – using fresh and high quality ingredients, with minimal cooking, and letting the ingredients speak for themselves. However, where the food was cooked (e.g. asparagus, tuna belly), it was a bit hit and miss.
Service was also a bit hit and miss. When I arrived, I had to wait a few minutes to even be acknowledged and shown to my table. There was only one waiter, and throughout my meal I could see that he was being stretched. Once we were seated though service was back to normal, and the food arrived quickly.
Overall, I think Mas Q Menos is bringing a brilliant new concept of Spanish dining to London, and one that has legs. There were still a few hiccups that need to be ironed out, but that is normal with any new opening. The prices are extremely reasonable, and the quality of the ingredients top-notch.
Come: For a casual lunch or simple dinner. Great place to have a few glasses of great Spanish wines and catch up with a friend.
Don’t Come: If you’re looking for a formal meal or breadth in menu.
Mas Q Menos is located at 272 High Holborn, London WC1V 7EY (in between Holborn Station and Chancery Lane Station). Reservations can be made on 020 7242 2890.