What? Hispanophile Richard Bigg has opened his fifth London Camino, bringing the group’s relaxed Spanish atmosphere and authentic tapas to Shoreditch, where they opened their first bar 22 years ago.
New? Yes, it officially opened on 3rd October – but in the few weeks since its arrival, it has already established itself as a sound eatery among London’s Spanish populace.
Where? 2 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, EC2A 3BL. www.camino.uk.com
On the Menu: In true Spanish style, the menu offers a plethora of nibbles and meat, cheese and seafood plates to share. Alongside generous glasses of Spanish wine, diners can load up their plates with the likes of croquetas de jamón (serrano ham croquettes) and the quintessential tortilla de patatas (an egg and potato combination found atop every bar in Spain). Meanwhile, the charcutería section’s meat offerings include jamon serrano, jamón ibérico cebo or an entire board if you just can’t decide, wonderful alongside cheese options like Idiazábal (smoked ewes’ cheese with walnuts) and La Rozay (cured goats’ cheese with fig and almond). Amongst the premium quality meat plates on offer are the no-nonsense morcilla de Burgos (black pudding with fiery peppers), the chicken skewer with lemon, paprika and coriander marinade or the ibérico pork ribs marinated in Moscatel with roasted apple and frisée salad. But leave room for seafood, because even if you claim you’re not a fan, Camino’s nautical niceties (such as sea trout cured with tequila, apple, grapefruit and olive oil, and grilled red prawns with Basque piperrada and saffron aioli) may well change your mind…
The Look: With three spaces to choose from, Camino Shoreditch features a heated outdoor terrace as well as a tapas bar and a restaurant, separated by a screen made of vintage doors. With colours inspired by the Castile y León region, the venue instantly feels Spanish thanks to its dark woods, blue and white mural tiles and terracotta walls, adorned with Spanish maps, posters and paraphernalia.
What We Ate: After an unforeseen issue with the building’s electrics – and a subsequent 1.5 hour wait, when the waiters rather left us in the dark in all senses – our food was finally served, to the relief of our now rumbling stomachs. Never had that feeling of excitement at the sight of food being brought over been so acute, and although at this point anything edible would have been welcomed with open arms (/mouths), the food lived up to expectation.
Lemon and rosemary manzanilla olives and a bread selection with virgin olive oil and balsamic vinegar were the background to an indulgent, slightly runny tortilla, as well as a charcutería board featuring jamón serrano, jamón cebo and embutidos (sliced cured sausages) and a plate of manchego, with a sweet quince jelly that paired perfectly with the punchy meats and creamy cheese. A highlight was the gambas ajillo, a sizzling bowl of prawns with white wine, chilli and a hefty dose of garlic (perhaps it was our breath that kept the waiters at a distance..?) Meanwhile, a bowl of classic patatas bravas (the, in our opinion, superior Spanish equivalent of British chips – crispy potato chunks with spicy brava sauce and garlicky aioli) satisfied all our cravings. After sharing a feast of tapas between two we were surprisingly full, but in the name of fairness, who were we to say no to dessert? We shared a traditional Galician almond tart, the delicately sweet flavours of which balanced the accompanying salted caramel ice cream.
What We Drank: When, upon ordering our wine, the perfectly innocent “large or small?” question came out, there was a resounding “large!” from the table. Rather than classic Rioja, or Ribera del Duero, we opted for the El Velero Tinto (garnacha and tempranillo) – a light, drinkable red wine that went well with (but didn’t overpower) our varied food.
Go With: The relaxed environment, atmospheric decoration and the sharing focus of the menu here make for a great spot for groups of friends. However, with its bar and terrace (plus its prime location a stone’s throw from Liverpool Street Station), it would be equally well suited to one-on-one drinks and nibbles with colleagues and contacts – no one will be able to resist when plied with some of the best produce from Spain’s vineyards.
Final Word: There was a great deal of Spanish emanating from nearby tables, which can only be a good thing – a Spanish bar and restaurant that’s got the seal of approval from Spaniards. As for the slightly tainted service, an unanticipated lengthy power cut threw them off, and the delicious food and drink more than made up for it. Definitely one to try for some incredible, authentic Spanish flavours.
Camino Shoreditch: 2 Curtain Road, London EC2A 3BL
Images Tom Bird