Restaurant review by Maria Kuehn and Michael R. Goss
The good thing about being une femme d'un certain age is that you know what you want in life and you no longer need to be subtle about it. So I had no hesitation in asking a good friend to take me to a much talked about local tapas joint, on the Harrow Road, near Scrubs Lane, for a special birthday treat.
There are two things which put a ginormous smile on my face - great company with great food; it’s the hottest combination on the planet. And so it was when I feasted on some spectacularly good tapas dishes in Centro Galego de Londres last Wednesday.
If you're a pair of star crossed lovers in search of a dimly lit, romantic eatery then you'll be disappointed. If however, you're up for a lively atmosphere, a contented crowd, some of which are watching the football (natch) and most importantly, bloody good grub then this is the place to head for. Roman and Oscar have done a fine job in keeping this hidden gem going since taking over a few years back. This is hospitality, Galician style. It’s not some fancy-dan, over priced West end tapas-for-gringos joint, this is the real deal. The fact that most of customers were Spanish sealed it for me, if the natives eat there it must be good!
I didn't go downstairs to the basement which, on a Saturday is both a large restaurant and Salsa club and a perfect party venue. Upstairs there are just a few tables and the bar at which we initially sat, scoffing delicious green olives and some chorizo and potatoes as a free amuse bouche. Nice start.
My erstwhile and convivial dining companion started with a beer, (he always does) a glass of ice cold local brew Estrella Galicia www.estrellagalicia.es and then, once his thirst was quenched, onto the wine. He claimed the wine was consistently great and that he’d never had a bad wine here, and so Oscar’s choice of Antaño Rioja Reserva (2005) www.garciacarrion.es£24.50, tasted like a silky nectar, so smooth, it was like an angel dancing on my tongue before slipping down effortlessly and, by the look on his face, equally savoured by my fellow gastronaut. Red, rich and full of blackberry flavours It reminded me of the first time I had the absolute pleasure of tasting my first glass of Greco di Tufo, or “Tartuffe” as he calls it, as a nod to Molière. http://www.feudi.it/ I love discovering a new wine that you just want to greedily guzzle (or should, I say, ahem, elegantly sip like a princess) - it's like a new discovery that you want to share with your favourite crowd.
I rarely let anyone order for me (what an insult!) but as I had never been to Centro Galego and this was an old haunt for my pal, I let him order away. Well, I had absolutely no idea how damned good everything was going to be. I'm more often than not, very disappointed with the vast majority of restaurants in the UK, but the folk at this joint just know how to do it. With bells on may I add. The small, green roasted sweet peppers Pimientos de Padron (£4.50), naked apart from a little sea salt were just perfect small bite to start. Big deal I hear you say. Well, I could tell that from the quality of the pepper and the way they were perfectly cooked that more good things were to come. The Gambasal Ajillo (£5.95); prawns, again spankingly fresh with that meaty bite to them were suitably immersed in hot oil and garlic, the juices of which were begging to be mopped up with some very fine, rustic bread. There are always ever changing specials up on the blackboard too and my Spanish speaking mate swore by the Gulas, a dish of baby eels cooked in garlic and hot olive oil, which was equally as delicious. The salad too was perfect, crisp fresh lettuce, succulent beef tomato and creamy ripe avocado.
The star for me was the octopus, Pulpo con Cachelos (£7.50) however. I once saw a fisherman on the tiny Greek island of Skyros bashing a dead octopus against some rocks for what seemed an age to tenderise the beast of a thing. This brought back memories of that happy day. Every mouthful was a joy.
The service was just great and there was an air of contentment that was well, comforting and homely. This might have been my first, highly pleasurable culinary experience in Centro Galego, but with so many other untried dishes on the menu, it sure as hell ain't gonna be my last. What the hell is the Spanish for 'Lovely Jubbly' anyway?
Centro Galego de Londres
869 Harrow Road
0208 964 4873
This article was written by Maria Kuehn and journalist Michael R. Goss and it was previously published in their site http://mindingbellieswell.blogspot.co.uk
Michael R. Goss is also co-editor of : https://www.facebook.com/HarlesdenTown