If you’ve ever had the pleasure of having tapas in Spain then you will know that it is not so easy to recreate the authentic experience outside of the country. La Parada on Bree Street in Cape Town does a very good job of it, in my opinion.
First of all the setting is epic, the décor of this restaurant was a talking point before it even opened on Bree Street. Despite early concerns about the quality of the food at La Parada, it has remained consistently busy with locals and tourists since it opened 2 years ago. It is impossible to ignore the vibe the restaurant offers – especially when you are just walking past and you catch sight of punters drinking beers on brown leather couches on the pavement.
Colourful re-used tiles, mosaics and mismatched wooden furniture give the place a well-worn feeling, which does not detract at all, but rather adds to the authenticity of the venue. Spanish posters and festive wallpaper all contribute to the attraction that is La Parada. Even after 2 years of full-on trading, the restaurant still has exactly the same appeal. It feels like a hot Spanish day and you are ready to sit down for some tapas and a cold beer (which they have plenty of on tap. Good craft beer too).
Enter the Spanish chef Andres Conde to rectify the food situation. Andres worked at the iconic El Bulli Restaurant, and more recently at Tickets in Barcelona. If you know anything about restaurants you’ll know that is about as impressive a résumé as you can get.
Food24 was invited last week to preview the forthcoming Flavour Fiesta tapas menu at La Prada. And what a feast it was.
We started off with a cleverly presented raspberry sorbet Mojito – refreshing, fun, and a good way to kick off a tapas menu tasting.
Embutidos (the Spanish term for meat products) was our first introduction to the food with salchichón (Spanish salami usually made with pork), Chorizo, lomo (cured pork loin), jamon (ham) and pan con tomate (toasted bread, fresh garlic, ripe tomatoes and olive oil).
I highly recommend you start with this meat platter – Chef Andres makes the chorizo himself - it is outstanding.
Next came the tapas.
Salmon and truffled honey bruschetta.
Olive and orange salad.
Ceviche in lettuce taco.
Crayfish avocado cannelloni.
I thoroughly enjoyed all of the tapas and found the ingredients to be fresh and the flavour combinations different and tasty. Not too delicate but with the more physical flavour that one enjoys with tapas traditionally. The only complaint I had was the ceviche seemed to be a bit overpowered by ginger and even the taste of the lettuce came through over the fish.
The crayfish avocado cannelloni was my favourite and is definitely worth a try when you are next there.
I was then completely floored by the arrival of a whole lamb shoulder (carved at the table) served with vegetables. Tender as you like, and absolutely delicious. The lamb shoulder is always on the menu but only available for larger bookings. At R450 for 1.5kg of pure Heaven – I’d get some friends together and pay La Parada a visit.
If that doesn’t lure you - for the true foodies you can order the suckling pig. This is not on the usual menu and is only available on request (usually by Spanish folk who apparently love it).
The suckling pig is available for R1700 for whole suckling pig of 9kg or R850 for half.
Dessert was described as a warm almond tart - but it was more like a fondant - and served with ice cream, followed by espresso. No complaints there.
When I return it will be with friends for that roast lamb shoulder, unless I can talk them into the suckling pig instead.
- Cathrine Shone