I should start this review with the disclaimer that I was initially on the fence about writing it.
What compelling words could a vegetarian share about a Catalan restaurant specialising in meat, poultry and game (typical of the mountainous region of Barcelona), alongside seafood and other raw or cured items?
Rather a lot, as it turns out…
Helmed by Victor Garvey (chef patron at Encant and Sibarita), Rambla is as vibrant as the spirited street in Barcelona from which it takes its name.
It’s a disarmingly-warm and laid-back space, the sort that caters just as easily for solo diners as for intimate evenings or boisterously-loud gatherings. You might pop in for a glass of Spanish wine and a few small plates, only to stay on for a bottle over repeat orders of the same.
Astonishingly well-priced dishes practically fly out the open-plan kitchen here. Spinach croquetas are a dish we instantly raise our glou-glou glass of red to – the crisp coating giving way to a creamy explosion tempered by a restrained dollop of alioli.
There’s much joy to be found in the baked nevat cheese too, a smooth and milky cheese which lends itself to being easily – and rather liberally – scooped out onto rustic bread and crudites. The simple but cathartic combination is one which I can definitely see myself returning for on a blustery autumnal evening!
Of course it would be criminal not to order a side of blistered padron peppers, while a cold roasted ‘escalivada’ vegetable salad provides a virtuous balance. The marinated slivers of aubergine, peppers, tomato and onions are packed full of flavour, subtly enhanced by the underlying freshness of the veggies.
For the record, my friend’s tuna is flawless too and cooked to her exacting standards. Generous wedges of avocado come sandwiched between the seared and sesame-crusted slivers, a drizzle of truffle oil adding a rich flourish.
We finish with breakfast for dessert: a warm apricot and almond coulant. The golden-topped croissant-like creation cracks apart to reveal a gooey gush of frangipane, and is astutely (if a bit surprisingly) complimented by the tart textures of the homemade frozen yogurt plated pristinely on the side.
So while I can’t speak authoritatively on the other dishes that my foodie compatriots are undoubtedly singing praises of, it’s only dutiful for me to share my experience regardless.
For less than £20 a pop, a medium-bodied Tempranillo-based wine has to be one of the best-value bottles to be found in central London, while most of the (generously-portioned) plates range between £5-£7. All told, the experience has made for one of the most memorable, impeccable and ridiculously well-priced evenings I’ve enjoyed in a long while. Rambla is definitely one for my revisit list.
Rambla London, 64 Dean Street LONDON W1D 4QQ
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