A shiny new branch of chef Omar Allibhoy’s Spanish-themed restaurant and bar chain Tapas Revolution opened in SouthGate in June of last year. Nine months on and its become a firm favourite on the Bath ‘small plates’ map – no mean feat now that large plates are in danger of becoming a lesser-spotted, bygone days concept.
Set slap-bang in the heart of the city’s most thoroughly modern shopping/merrymaking complex, the Tapas Revolution, erm, revolutionaries cleverly avoided attempting to recreate some kind of faux ‘old’ Barcelona stage set as the backdrop to the new restaurant, opting instead to make the very most of having a brand new space in which to create a spacious, buzzing, contemporary bar and dining room, welcoming at all times of the day from breakfast to post-sunset (there’s a neat little covered/heated alfresco zone out front, too.) And the plan served them well; the whole experience feels as fresh and vibrant as it did when it first opened, but now has a familiarity about it that makes regulars feel totally at home.
The all-important food could be described as a celebration of Spain on several plates, whether you want a little dish of Almendras de Mallorca to accompany a glass of Cava at the end of a busy working day or a full-on banquetear of as many dishes as you choose to make room for. For guidance, however, the menu suggests 3-4 plates per person, and as the staff here are so friendly, open and downright enthusiastic about the food that they serve, why would we beg to differ with their recommendation?
In true Spanish tapas bar style, your selection typically arrives when its ready, with one, then two, then suddenly four, then more, appearing on your table in turn, eventually creating a colourful, harmonious chorus of flavours, aromas and textures.
From previous visits, we knew our selection had to include the utterly divine Torreznos con Mojo Dulce again, because this incredibly glamorous-looking dish brings neat cubes of crispy/silky, succulent pork belly together in a sweet/spicy sauce thrumming with cinnamon – a memorable combination indeed. We also chose to revisit the Berenjenes Fritas (tantalisingly moreish crispy aubergine fingers bathed in a honey and thyme glaze); the silky-smooth Jamón Ibérico (which can only be described is an other-worldly ham-world experience) and the plump, indulgent Croquetas de Jamón: piping hot morsels of béchamel /ham deliciousness that we simply can’t get enough of. But there are a handful of new dishes on the menu too, which is why we instigated our most recent investigation.
One newbie that’s set to become a popular Tapas Revolution classic has to be the Suquet de Pescado – a cod stew that brings fat, fresh fish, potatoes, saffron and almonds (very Spanish, that almond thing) together in perfect harmony. While it’s a great shame, to us, that paella-to-share is no longer an option, this classic Spanish dish can still be enjoyed in small plate portion that actually isn’t that small at all. Beautifully seasoned and featuring a generous smattering of top-notch chicken nuggets in amongst perfectly al dente, saffron-infused rice, it’s proper paella – if you love it like we do, simply double-up on this dish and ditch the bread? Having said that, the Pan Mallorquin – another new arrival: chargrilled bread slathered in soft chorizo, gratineed with Manchego and drizzled with honey – most definitely shouldn’t be overlooked in any circumstances.
And neither, in fact, should Tapas Revolution. Aclamaciones, Omar!