On Christmas Eve I had the unexpected treat of having Matthew around. As he usually works over the Christmas and New Year's period he's ordinarily in the office, but as Christmas Eve fell on a Saturday we got to spend the whole day together. It's my favourite day of the year, so it was lovely to get to share it with him.
As I was so excited I decided to plan a few treats for the day - I dearly love a treat. I booked us both tickets to Carols by Candlelight at the Royal Albert Hall and planned for a walk and some cocktails too. We also decided that we'd pop out for lunch before the concert at 2.30pm - as I'd be cooking for most of Christmas morning I was excited to let someone else take up the pots and pans the night before! We had a look at the available restaurants near the Royal Albert Hall and decided on Casa Brindisa, a small chain I'd heard of but which I'd never visited. We both thought tapas sounded great (it's a real family favourite) and it was close enough to the venue that we could get there in good time and enjoy the meal.
We were seated promptly at a comfortable table and soon furnished with Estrella and water. The restaurant was nicely busy but by no means jam-packed - the days around Christmas lend a real calm to London venues as many people decamp for the festivities. As is traditional for tapas, we selected a few items and shared the wealth. We ordered the dados de manchego, the pan de coca, the croquetas de jamon y pollo, the patatas bravas y aioli, the pimentos de padron and the ensalada de pato.
The dados de manchego were just as expected - sharp yet creamy, served with a little honey to cut the tang. The pan de coca was gorgeously tomatoey and tasty, with a slightly chargrilled flavour. I adored the croquetas - it took all my self-control not to order another round; they were simply delicious.
The patatas bravas didn't arrive, alas - our waitress didn't use a pad (I'm not sure if that's policy or preference) so the request for these never made its way to the kitchen. We did try to flag this but to no avail. The pimentos (a Matthew favourite) were just right, and the portion was generous too. I loved the ensalada de pato, with a lovely dressing, gorgeous little cubes of beetroot, and slivers of tender, moist duck.
If you're in South Ken and looking for a pleasant spot for some tapas, I'd advise you to seek out Casa Brindisa - the perfect little spot for a pre- or post- museum or Royal Albert Hall feast. I'll certainly be returning; I'm determined to try the patatas bravas now!