Tapas Revolution


20A St Lawrence St, Bath BA1 1AN

01225 312917


Parking: Nearby

Disabled access: Yes

Food served: Mon-Thurs 11am-10pm, Fri/Sat to 11pm, Sun to 9pm


Decor 9/10

Food: 9/10

Service: 8/10

TripAdvisor rating: 4.5

YOU expect a celebrity chef to have a passion for the cuisine of his native country, and indeed the charming Omar Allibhoy waxed lyrical about the simplicity of top quality Spanish food when we visited his Tapas Revolution restaurant in Bath.

What was surprising was to learn that there is, according to him, no such thing as Spanish cuisine: instead he feels very strongly that each region has its own style and specialities, and his mission is to bring the best of these to the English palate.

"In Spain we have only recently seen Indian, or Chinese, restaurants, appear in many towns," he explained. "But we have always had restaurants serving, for example, Basque food, food from the coast, and Galician food, from the north.

"They have been our ethnic foods. You could spend a holiday travelling round Spain and eat so many different styles of food - I would thoroughly recommend it!"

Recently Omar, who now has seven Tapas Revolution branches in the chain he began in 2011 in London - Bath is the largest - has been working with Estrella Galicia, the Spanish family brewery based in northern Spain, to raise English awareness of how best to enjoy tapas: with beer, rather than wine.

"You might think of red wine as being the thing to drink, but in fact beer is a much better palate cleanser," Mark Owen, of Estrella Galicia, enthused. "And if you eat tapas that's exactly what you need, because you want to enjoy the taste of each dish separately.

"Estrella Galicia brew several different beers which go perfectly with different types of tapas: our main beer is delicious with lighter dishes, like the tortilla or empanada we're having tonight. While the 1906 Reserva is perfect with stronger flavours like the Jamon Serrano, or the chorizo - and our 1906 Black Coupage is amazing with sweet dishes and with cheese."

To showcase the Estrella Galicia beers Omar has developed a special Supper Club menu, which he is trialling across the chain now. Tapas are made for sharing, and in this case so is the beer, with each pair of diners being presented with dishes of tapas and a bottle of each variety to share between them. Thoughtfully, there was a bottle apiece of the 0.0 zero alcohol version, plus water, available.

We sampled the flagship Estrella Galicia, a golden lager-type and my favourite; the 1906 Reserva Especial, which I found a bit too strong and my partner said was 'definitely chewier' (and more alcoholic) and finally the 1906 Black Coupage, which was indeed almost black, but tasted nothing like that inky Irish stuff. The main flavour I got was black treacle, but the more experienced beer lovers at the table raved over its subtle depths, sipping it like a fine port and clearly enjoying themselves.

And to eat? Jamon Serrano ham, made from pigs fed on Spanish chestnuts - very tasty but I have to say I couldn't detect the nuttiness. The Galician Tetilla cheese on toast drizzled with honey was absolutely amazing, a Spanish rarebit sensation. Omar modestly said the honey had 'simply had olive oil mixed with it' before grilling but I feel there must be a secret ingredient at work - perhaps his Tapas Revolution or Spanish Made Simple cookbooks hold a clue.

Empanada gallega pastries filled with tuna and peppers (just tinned tuna, too) went down a treat, fried Padron peppers not so: sorry, green peppers are too bitter for me and we felt they needed more salt.

The tortilla de patatas, Spanish omelette with potato, was another hit, made with Galician eggs from corn-fed chickens (yes, really, imported just like the beer) - simple ingredients beautifully put together.

Pulpo a la gallega, Galician octopus served with potato and smoked paprika, was again a taste revelation. Forget chewy seafood, this was easy eating and delicious and has, Omar stressed, to be carefully cooked to the exact point at which it reaches perfection and then removed from the heat and eaten before it develops car tyre texture.

Top of the pops with us was the very simple smoked chorizo sausage, stewed in Estrella Galicia beer, which was flavourful but not too smoky, spicy without blowing the roof off your mouth and deliciously moist.

On to pudding, where the 1906 Black Coupage added a distinctive flavour to a lovely chocolate fondant.

Based on our experience, bring on the Supper Club menu, as it was a fantastic way to be introduced to both food and the beer. Omar is also promising to add sharing paella dishes to his menu, the one Spanish treat he feels it currently lacks.

"Paella is like our Sunday lunch, where everyone comes together to eat and enjoy and talk," he said. "I've recently been back to Valencia to get some tips on the perfect paella, and it'll be on the menu soon." Can't wait.

Until the Supper Club evenings arrive, with an expected price of around £25 a head, a selection of tapas would cost you no more than £14 a head, beers from £2.75-£5.25 depending on variety and measure.