Opera Tavern

Up to 23 June 2011 - Heston, Opera Tavern 390

Right now as I write this I am craving Opera Tavern’s mini Iberico pork and foie gras burger (£5.95).  It’s just one of those dishes that gets into your head and messes with your mind.  I’m not sure if it is the tender but densely packed burger meat or the topping of dripping melted manchego, aioli and onion jam.  It could be the slightly charred and toasted crunch to the mini brioche bun.  Whatever the secret is, this is one addictive burger.

Those burgers – amazing

Opera Tavern is the latest offering from the people behind established London tapas stalwarts Dehesa and Salt Yard and features a lot more of the same good stuff.  This time the setting is in a converted 19th century boozer where the bar is still in pride of place but now serves its duty as a place to drink sherry and nibble at small plates.  Alongside the bar there are quite a few tables and a separate upstairs section but bookings are the safest way to go. 

I visited Opera Tavern with MTV boyfriend, Greedy Diva and A Girl Has to Eat giving us a good chance to try as many dishes as possible.  The menu features Salt Yard favourite a battered courgette flower stuffed with oozing goats cheese and drizzled with honey (£7.55).  However there were also lots of dishes unique to Opera Tavern courtesey of the charcoal grill on site.  The grill was put to good use with a wide selection of pinchos morunos. We gobble up mini skewers of marinated Iberico pork (£3.25), Gresshingham duck with fig (£3.25), and octopus with chorizo, green tomatoes, cucumber and pomegranate (£3.95).

Courgette flowers drizzled with honey

The back of the menu was divided into fish, meat and vegetable dishes. Crispy squid and sea purslane with chilli aioli (£6.75) was just as addictive as popcorn at the cinema while chargrilled salt mash lamb with faro, peas, broad beans (£7.25) featured pink and tender meat paired perfectly with a handful of wild garlic and some creamy goat’s curd. 

We shared the pudding and all declared our favourite the warm hazelnut cake with lemon thyme ice cream (£5.35) however tonka bean pannacotta with English strawberries and white chocolate almonds (£5.35) was also good.

The hazelnut cake

As is inevitably the issue with tapas our bill mounted up to over £40 a head and it could easily have been a lot more if we had indulged in some of the jamon being lovingly carved at the bar.  For my money I prefer Opera Tavern’s siblings or the always brilliant Barrafina but then none of those options offer that incredibly moreish mini Iberico pork and foie gras burger.

Essentials
Details: Opera Tavern, 23 Catherine Street, London, WC2B 5JS (Ph 020 7836 3680) Tube: Covent Garden
Damage: Pricey. Our bill was over £40 a head.
7/10

Links
If you liked reading this you might be interested in my review of Barrafina or in a post on where the locals eat tapas in Andalucia.  Thanks to Greedy Diva as my camera died during our meal so two of the three photographs posted here are thanks to her.  Opera Tavern on Urbanspoon

8 comments

  1. I tried Opera Tavern the week it opened. It was okay but Salt Yard is still infinitely better.

  2. I visited Salt Yard recently for the first time for a friend’s birthday and absolutely loved it. Those courgette flowers are fabulous, just wish I could find some fresh ones in London to recreate the dish at home. Am still keen to try Opera Tavern, although interested to see you don’t think it quite compares.

  3. Funny you just mentioned this place – I had just seen some great shots on Foodspotting of their hamburgers and thought “I so need to go here next time I’m in London!)
    Sounds quite expensive though…

  4. Oh I’ve been DYING to go here!! Those burgers… :o) and I am a long-time fan of the Salt Yard’s courgette flowers – they are to die for.

  5. I’m with you on preferring the Salt Yard and Dehesa, although I’ve seen others say they love the simple Madrid bar like feel that Opera Tavern is supposed to have. Personally, it feels more Covent Garden than Madrid to me. But those burgers – yuh!

  6. Love Dehesa and Salt Yard is one of my very favourite restaurants, but I’ve heard such mixed reviews about Opera Tavern (mainly the prices) am yet to try it. Those little burgers sure look tempting though. I think it’s the name – subconsiously I think it’s a Wetherspoons rather than an upscale tapas restaurant.

  7. FlowerGirl – Interesting you say that – seems to be a common view

    The Little Loaf – Interested to hear what you think if you make it to both

    Katherina – Yes it adds up but all tapas places do I think.

    Jeanne – The burgers are literally to die for

    Greedy Diva – Let us know after your trip to Madrid…

    KSalty- Funny! I know what you mean – there is a lot in a name.

  8. Thanks for the great company.

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