Starting the year as I mean to go on with another restaurant visit to share. Totally been foodie-ing up my January – for good reason though, as late last year I got my hands on a Tastecard – offering either 50% off or 2-for-1 on loads of restaurants across the country. After browsing my options on the handy app, I decided that Spain was calling, and we answered with a ‘date night’ trip to tapas bar and restaurant Salvador & Amanda – with 50% off the total food bill. Tapas is one of my favourite ways to eat – I love trying a mixture of different dishes, and find the ‘family style’ way of sharing plates and eating dinner super-relaxed for casual dining.
Located moments from Holborn station, the Bloomsbury branch of Salvador and Amanda’s was easy to get to. We recieved a warm, friendly welcome and he interior definitely impressed me – we were seated in a small booth in the lower bar area. Unfortunately we didn’t get to look at the upstairs tapas restaurant, but I loved the low-lit relaxed atmosphere of the bar – it might not be everyone’s ideal but for me, it felt cosy and the decor on-point. Providing an intimate and relaxed feel, it’s definitely a great location for impressing a date – or even just dropping in for some sangria before a night out.
Hell yes, I said sangria. I fell a bit in love with the stuff when we went to Spain last year, so I was pretty excited about escaping the drizzly British weather with a glass or three. Unfortunately we’d just missed the 5-7 Happy Hour where we could have got a whole litre of sangria for £11 (bargain), so we ended up just grabbing a half litre to share instead. Although, quite obviously, we then went on to have another half litre before we went. Serious holiday vibes. The sangria itself was a bit sweeter and slightly more syrupy than I’ve been used to previously – but really tasty and moreish nonetheless.
Our Grilled Tomato Bread with Olive Oil came out first, and instantly took me back to the tastes of Barcelona – vibrant tomato taste and perfectly toasted bread. It was followed up quickly by our Ham, Chorizo and Cheese selection – serrano ham, chorizo; manchego, tetilla & mahon cheeses. I’m a big fan of a meat’n’cheese board, and this one was definitely up there with the best – particularly the serrano ham and the manchego cheese.
We ordered a lot of meaty dishes, including some Spanish Meatballs. The meatballs themselves were pretty big (*inappriate snigger*), and the sauce was lovely and rich – a generous enough helping for there to be enough leftover to enjoy with the patatas bravas too. The lamb skewers were tender and tasty – usually, peppers wouldn’t spring to mind as an accompaniment for lamb, but the finely sliced piquillo tendrils really added to the dish.
As well as the main meat dishes, we grabbed a couple of ‘side’ style plates, including a crunchy bowl of Broccoli and Roasted Almonds, and, of course, the tapas staple that are patatas bravas. I actually had some disappointing patatas bravas at another London tapas restaurant, El Molino. It was a great menu but unfortunately the potatoes let it down – tasting more like frozen roasties than the real deal. Thankfully, Salvador & Amanda’s were brilliant – crispy on the outside, soft on the inside with a generous helping of slightly spicy but not overpowering sauce.
However, a special mention has to go to the Chorizo Lollipops, which were totally my favourite part of the meal – a slightly quirky dish, with balls of deep-fried grilled chorizo on the end of skewers. YES. The quince aioli was a perfect compliment to the gentle spice of the chorizo, and I could easily have eaten another whole portion of these to myself!
I liked the way some of the dishes arrived in a slightly staggered way, giving us time to enjoy a few before being presented with a whole new round of treats to dig into. The Andalusian Style Fried Baby Squid actually came out on its own after the other courses – and to be honest, I’d forgotten we’d ordered it! I’d already had enough to eat but wanted to give it a try anyway, and although not the best squid I’ve had or particularly memorable, it wasn’t the worst either. In hindsight I’d probably not have ordered it, mainly due to already having had plenty and it not being a particular highlight of the meal – but it still definitely wasn’t a problem to eat (to be honest, fried squid rarely is…).
For the tapas, two half-litre carafes of sangria and service charge, our total bill came to just over £55 after using the Tastecard. Without the 50% discount on food, it would have been around £80 – pricier than we’d normally go for but we probably ordered enough food for four rather than two. Although I’d go back to eat at Salvador and Amanda’s for a special occasion, without my Tastecard I probably wouldn’t have a full meal here often. However, with the great value happy hour drinks and my love for sangria, I’ll definitely be popping back in for a drink if I’m out and about nearby.