When we say ‘Tapas Bar’ what we often mean these days is ‘Tapas Restaurant’.
One with tables and chairs and waiters and waitresses. But the true tapas bar is just that… a bar, albeit a bar which also serves very handy, very tasty little plates of tantalizing food, just ideal for soaking up your drinks. In fact, for those of you who don’t know already, that’s what tapas means in Spanish… small plate.
Anyway I digress. I had the pleasure of visiting a small but perfectly formed, genuine tapas bar the other day called Pix Pintxos in Neal Street on the northern edges of Covent Garden. It’s one of four bars in a small chain offering a tapas experience more along the lines of that you’ll find in Barcelona or San Sebastián.
Small, dark, but definitely not dingy, the bar has a smattering of high narrow, artisan type bar tables, surrounded by workmanlike stools. This is not the place for chesterfields or sumptuous chairs. And under our remit here at best bars in London it would be hard to put it in a category.
While they do serve cocktails, this isn’t a cocktail bar. If they have a specialty on the drinks front it’s Cava, with some delicious Spanish fizz on offer, as well as some more expensive champagne. They have a good, if not extensive wine list and a range of good Spanish beer including Estrella.
But it’s the Tapas that makes Pix stand out. It was certainly amongst the best I’ve had, with new dishes regularly brought up from the basement kitchen and dotted around the actual bar top itself. All you have to do is wander up – and believe me we did a number of times – collect a plate of deliciousness and take it back to your table.
Honey glazed cod fritters, iberico ham and bechamel croquettas, chorizo and manchego bocadillo, calamares, vegetarian tortilla and many other delicacies all disappeared rapidly, washed down with hearty red wine and cold Spanish beer. All that was left to show for our endeavours were the little wooden skewers which pierced each plate of tapas… and this is how the bill is totted up too. Each big skewer is £2.95, each small one is £1.95, so its good value too.
The attentive and helpful young staff were even kind enough to bring the latest tapas arrivals to our table. If it wasn’t for our iron wills and various diets we could have stayed all day.
63 Neal St